façade

[facade of the cathedral of Cremona, Italy] The face or front of any building, in ecclesiastical architecture; usually the west front, sometimes the transept fronts. The façades of the basilican churches were very simple with either a central gable or a screen façade. Often the surface was covered with mosaics. Over the lower portion was a projecting portico. Byzantine façades consisted of the narthex with sometimes a gallery above, lighted with narrow windows. The central door was called the Beautiful Gate. In Lombardic churches by using the continuous shape of the gables the false façade was introduced higher than the roof of the church which became a characteristic of Italian architecture. Romanesque façades have buttresses of slight projection, a rose window over the central door, and circular mouldings on doors and windows. In Gothic a satisfactory design was hardly ever realized. As a rule the façades, though beautiful, disguise the character of the church. In English churches the portals are generally insignificant. There was a fondness in Germany for acute open gables over the portals and towers with spires. Flatness is the predominating feature of Italian façades. They have a large central window and are often decorated with colored marbles. Spanish Gothic, when not showing French influence, favored openwork spires and extreme decoration. Sometimes they are very simple. The style adopted in the Renaissance shows the influence of classic models.

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