Social Straits and Urban Consequences in Renaissance: Public Power in The Squares of Sforzinda

Aksoy, Merve
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This paper aims to investigate the use of space and social and cultural meanings in the city squares of "Sforzinda"- the ideal city designed by the Florentine architect Filarete in his architectural treatise written in the first years of 1460. Analyzing firstly the concept of "ideal squares" in the Renaissance period both theoretically and practically, the research will focus on the squares of Sforzinda in a social and cultural context.Ideal city concept has shown itself in many form of art including architectural treatises. In Alberti's "De re Aedificatoria", the ideal city is a perfect organism for a civilized, ideal life achieved by the architect. Leonardo da Vinci has also dealt with the "Ideal City" theme in his set of books - Codex Atlanticus. In the Renaissance period, ideal squares, as presented in "Urbino Panoramas", are conceptualized as a representation of an ideal city. The ideal city example which turned into physical reality is Palmanova - a nine-pointed star-city planned for military defense. Besides, the squares in small cities such as Pienza, Urbino, Mantua and Ferrara are designed according to the "Ideal city" concept with the intellectual and financial support of the ruling elite- the newly-emerged wealthy bourgeois in the Renaissance period. The geometrically and symmetrically ordered city squares represent both the society which is ordered adamantly and the virtues and power of the ruling Prince. Sforzinda's plan consists of an eight point star formed by two squares on top of each other without overlapping and a circle surrounding it which brings forward the defense function. The idealized geometrical forms - circle and square - in the Renaissance period, express the desire for "ideal". A similar typology of star-shaped layout of Sforzinda can be seen in the Yedikule Castle built in 1457 in Istanbul which will be further discussed. Staying in line with the concept of humanism in that period, people-oriented city square Sforzinda is located at the core of the city. The main square of Sforzinda is surrounded by the Cathedral, the Ducal Palace, the Episcopal Palace and two merchants' squares including the public buildings of the city. Thus, the importance of religious authorities, the Prince and public needs are emphasized. The merchants' squares in Sforzinda are organized with public buildings. In one of the merchants' square, the City Hall is located right in the middle of the square representing the idea of public power. The City Hall, in communication with the Governor's Palace is surrounded by the merchants's squares, twin churches, customhouse, prison and guilds of major and minor arts. Both of the merchants's squares surrounded by the administrative buildings include public baths, taverns, brothels as well.The paper will focus on the social and cultural dynamics of 15th century, leading to the design of the ideal city Sforzinda. The effect of the social hierarchy on the structure of city, the importance of public power in relationship with the ruling power, the organization and regulation of commerce, guilds and education will be put forward in the research.
City Square, Public Power, Renaissance Ideals, Ideal City, Şehir Meydanı, Kamu Gücü, Rönesans İdealleri, İdeal Şehir