This chapter discusses a theatrical approach to architecture known as the baroque, which shaped Rome’s architectural and urban space in the late sixteenth century and throughout the seventeenth century. The baroque was an architecture of persuasion that sought to convey the completeness of secular political power as well as transcendent religious experience. Originally celebrating Catholicism, its princes, and the pope, its air of unreality was particularly suited to propaganda. The shift from Renaissance to baroque classicism in Rome was spurred by threat to Catholicism posed by the Protestant Reformation in the first half of the sixteenth century. Though the Catholic Church was slow to reform itself, the Council of Trent completed its precepts for the revitalization of faith in 1563, which ultimately led to the drama that characterized seventeenth-century Italian architecture and urbanism.
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