Also known as Palazzo della Ragione, the Basilica Palladiana is a monumental symbol of the city of Vicenza. It sits squarely in the city's heart, in Piazza dei Signori. Designed by renowned architect and Vicenza native Andrea Palladio, it incorporates the existing Gothic buildings of the 15th century into the building's unique (at the time) redesign. The first attempt at redoing the structure resulted in a crash - and in the eventual commissioning of Palladio to take over the project.

The structure needed to exude the power of the city, since it was the meeting place of the city's leaders. It was given a loggia and a portico, both with column-supported arches, giving it a sense of Renaissance elegance. The form of the arches on the loggia would be later adapted to windows, which appropriately enough became known as "Palladian windows". It's completed in white marble from Piovene Rocchette, extracting the last of the stone from that quarry.

In the portico is the grand Gothic staircase that leads up to the main floor and the vast salon that was the meeting place of the Council of 400, the civic leaders. The enormous room was completed without any interior intermediate support. Half-way up the staircase is the Mouth of Truth (bocca della verita', in Italian), where citizens could place letters of anonymous accusations and complaints.

From the upper floor there is a view over three piazzas: Piazza dei Signori, Piazza delle Erbe, and Piazzetta Palladio; next to it is the Torre della Piazza. It is capped with a copper roof. Viewing the building from the tower makes it look like an elegant jewelry box. While it was officially known as Palazzo della Ragione, Palladio dubbed it "the Basilica" because he based it on the ancient Roman concept of a basilica, which was the meeting place for civic business. Now it is the site of meetings and art and architectural exhibitions.

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Address in Vicenza:

Piazza dei Signori.

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