1902 Encyclopedia > Campanile


CAMPANILE, the bell tower attached to the churches and town-halls in Italy. Bells are supposed to have been first used for announcing the sacred offices by Pope Sabinian (604), the immediate successor to St Gregory; and their use by the municipalities came with the rights granted by kings and emperors to the citizens to enclose their towns with fortifications, and assemble at the sound of a great bell. It is to the Lombard architects of the north of Italy that we are indebted for the introduction and development of the campanile, which, when used in connection with a sacred building, is a feature peculiar to Christian architecture,—Christians alone making use of the bell to gather the multitude to public worship. The ocampanile of Italy serves the same purpose as the tower or steeple of the churches in the north and west of Europe, but differs from it in design and position with regard to the body of the church. In the north and west the tower forms an integral part of the building; it is frequently placed at the west end or at the south or north side of the nave, in which case the ground story forms a porch to the church; sometimes it is at the intersection of the nave and transepts, in which case it rises as a grand central feature round which everything else groups, as seen at Salisbury, Lincoln, Norwich, &c. In Italy the campanile is almost always detached from the church, or at most connected with it by an arcaded passage. In Italy there are (with one or two exceptions, such as San Ambrosio, Milan, and at Novara) never more than one campanile to a church, whereas in the north and west the number varies from one to seven.

The design of the campanile differs entirely from its northern type. It never has buttresses, is very tall and thin in proportion to its height, and is square on plan, ooccasionally round, as at Ravenna and Pisa, and in one or two cases, as at San Gottardo, Milan, octagonal. The campande generally rises from base to summit without-break; the faces are divided vertically by flat pilasters, and horizontally by string-courses, arcades, or windows. As a rule the openings increase in number with the height of the stage. Many, perhaps the finest examples, have openings at the top only.

The chief architectural defect of the square campanile is the covering. This is generally a short conical roof, either square, circular, or octagonal on plan; but its junction with the tower was never successfully managed. The campanili in the north of Italy and in Rome are nearly all built of brick. In Tuscany, as at Pisa and Siena, and further south, as at Viterbo, they are veneered with marble of various colours.

The tallest campanile is the one at Cremona; it rises to a height of 396 feet. Probably the grandest and richest is that designed by Giotto in 1334 for the cathedral at Florence. It measures 275 feet high and 45 feet square ; it is entirely veneered with black, red, and white marble, and is divided into five stages, the upper three only having windows. Giotto intended to have finished it with a spire 90 feet high, but Taddio Gaddi, who succeeded Giotto as architect, thinking that the tower would not be improved by it, left it as it now exists. Some of the best examples of church campanili are to be found in Venice, Verona, Modena, Cremona, Parma, and Pisa.

The campanili belonging to the municipalities have generally a distinct character from those attached to sacred edifices; they have a smaller section on plan in proportion to the height. They want the conical roof, and are generally battlemented ; some have an upper and smaller stage, wherein the bells are hung, as at Florence, Siena, Vol terra, and Montepulciano. Their faces are rarely divided by pilasters ; there are few windows, generally small openings only to light the staircase ; and they are more frequently incorporated with the body of the build-ing than the church campanili, often rising from the wall heads and not from the ground to great heights. The most remarkable campanili are those at Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Siena. The campanile of St Mark's at Venice stands in the great square in front of the cathedral. Its erection was commenced about the beginning of the 10th, and completed up to the belfry about the middle of the 12th century. The belfry was erected and finished by Bartolomeo Buono in 1517. From the level of the piazza to the belfry stage, it is constructed of brick; the belfry and surmounting pyramid are of marble. The total height is 323 feet, and it is 42 feet square at the base. The gallery at top is reached by an inclined plane, and there are no windows other than small openings lighting the ascent.

The leaning tower or campanfle of Pisa, built by the citizens to rival that of Venice, was erected by Bonanno, and begun in the year 1174. It is circular on plan, and about 51 feet in diameter and 172 feet high. Not includ-ing the belfry it is divided vertically into seven stages, all of which, with the exception of the lowest, are decorated with an open arcade. The conical covering of the belfry-was never constructed. This tower overhangs its base upwards of 13 feet, and for long it was supposed to have been built so. It is founded on wooden piles driven into boggy ground. When the tower had been carried up about 35 feet it began to settle to one side. That no such settlement was ever anticipated may be asserted from the fact that a gurgoyle or water-spout to throw off the water from the first arcade, may be observed on what is now the highest side. As the work was carried on, the levels were altered so as to keep the centre of gravity within the base. This tower was finished by an architect called William of Innspruck. The outside is entirely constructed of white marble, and the inside of stone from Verruca. There are many campanili, notably the Garisendi and Asinelli towers at Bologna, that incline to one side,—all from the same cause as at Pisa.

The campanili of Florence and Siena are somewhat similar in design. The one at Florence is built of stone, and is about 20 feet square and about 300 feet high. That at Siena is built entirely of brick, and measures about 21 feet square and 282 feet high. Both are battlemented and have a smaller upper stage for the belfry. Several other important examples exist at Volterra, Monte-pulciano, Figline, Oppi, &c, &c. (R. AN.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries