Passions & Places


Luciano Laurana 
"...engineer and leader of all masters"

Luciano Laurana was a fine Dalmation architect. Born in Zadar in 1425, little is known of his life until 1468. His direct contacts with teachings by Leon Battista Alberti and Brunelleschi may only be inferred until 1468, but in that year his name started to appear on documents that bear witness to a fervent Renaissance period in Italy.

In 1468 Laurana (his original surname was Lo Vrana) was designated by Federico from Montefeltro engineer and leader of all masters, for the building of what is still considered a real architectural jewel; the Ducal Palace of Urbino. Since then he has been considered, and will always be, one of the greatest architects of all times.

Laurana worked in the creation of the huge architectural structure providing valuable intuitions. The Ducal Palace is a “città in forma di palazzo” (a town shaped as a palace), as Baldassar Castiglione wrote, and now hosts the rich National Gallery of the Marches and the Archaeological Museum. Laurana’s style is visible in small details (such as the colonnade of the Cortile d’Onore, whose corners do not interrupt the balance of the portico thanks to supporting L-shaped pillars), as well as in larger details, such as the Torricini, the towers that have become the symbol of Urbino. They were designed to connect the pre-existing Jole Palace to the Medieval Castle, and gave the world an elegant masterpiece that is perfectly integrated with the surroundings.

Laurana left Urbino in 1472, because he was probably involved in other projects, Francesco di Giorgio Martini took his place in the completion of the Ducal Palace. Laurana probably restructured the Corte Alta of Fossombrone, a summertime residence of the Montefeltro family, designing a light, pensile open gallery, which now hosts the Civic and Archaeological Museum.

In 1474, when Laurana was already working for the King of Naples, Alphonse of Aragon, to the building of the Triumphal Arch in Naples (at the entrance of the Anjou Donjon), the architect went to Pesaro. There, he designed the Rocca Costanza for Costanzo Sforza. It is a four-sided stronghold, characterized by huge towers surrounded by solid walls. It now hosts the local offices of the State Archive.

Giovanni della Rovere called Laurana to Senigallia in 1479. There he completed his last work, restructuring the stronghold. Its centuries-old structure needed to be fortified, to better resist invasions by the Turks.

Laurana’s refined and harmonic style may be found in the painting La città ideale (The Ideal Town), attributed to the architect and now visible at the National Gallery of the Marches. In it Laurana proposed the perspective view of a beautiful and imaginary Renaissance town, marked by the perfect proportion between spaces that Laurana sought.








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