City Gates

 

BACKGROUND

 

Locations

In ancient and medieval times, cities were generally surrounded by large walls for defense.  Access was limited to the points where major roads from the surrounding towns passed through the walls.

 

Function

Gates allowed the city inhabitants to block access to the city at night and when threatened by hostile forces.

 

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF ROMAN GATES

 

Appearance of Impregnability

Ancient city gates were intended to not only be impregnable but also look impregnable.

 

Arcuated Construction

As with other types of Roman construction, the round arch was used.

 

Ornamental Use of the Orders

Using the orders to decorate city gates added an element of refinement to the masonry masses.  The decorative element was important because gates expressed the prestige of the state.

 

Rustication

The rough surfaces and prominent joints of the rusticated masonry contributed to the fortified appearance of Roman gates.

 

 

INFLUENCE ON LATER ARCHITECTURE

 

Influence of Weaponry

Later, with the invention of gunpowder and the development of the cannon at the beginning of the Renaissance, city walls became more emblematic than practical.

 

Renaissance

The adoption of Roman models for Renaissance gates was especially appropriate in the case of fortified architecture because of Rome's past military might.  The ancient Roman use of heavily rusticated masonry and ornamentation by the orders were used in the Renaissance by architects such as Sanmicheli and Michelangelo.

 

 

EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT CITY GATES

 

Etruscan Gates

Porta Augusta, Perugia  

 

Roman Gates

Porta Appia (Porta San Sebastiano), Rome
Porta Maggiore, Rome, AD 52
South Gate, Jerash, Jordan, 129-30

 

See more about Fortifications in the Renaissance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Classical Architecture 13 of 18

Outline

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Porta Appia (Porta San Sebastiano today), Rome