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The Church of the Gesù (Italian: Chiesa del Gesù; Italian pronunciation: [ˈkjɛːza del dʒeˈzu]) is the mother church of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order also known as the Jesuits. Officially named Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesù all'Argentina (English: Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus at the "Argentina"), its facade is "the first truly baroque façade", introducing the baroque style into architecture. The church served as model for innumerable Jesuit churches all over the world, especially in the Americas. The Church of the Gesù is located in the Piazza del Gesù in Rome. First conceived in 1551 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits Society of Jesus, and active during the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent Catholic Reformation, the Gesù was also the home of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus until the suppression of the order in 1773. Although Michelangelo, at the request of the Spanish cardinal Bartolomeo de la Cueva, offered, out of devotion, to design the church for free, the endeavor was funded by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III, the pope who had authorized the founding of the Society of Jesus. Ultimately, the main architects involved in the construction were Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, architect of the Farnese family, and Giacomo della Porta. The church was built on the same spot as the previous church Santa Maria della Strada, where Saint Ignatius of Loyola had once prayed before an image of the Holy Virgin. This image, now adorned with gems, can be seen in the church in the chapel of Ignatius on the right side of the altar. Construction of the church began on 26 June 1568 to Vignola's design. Vignola was assisted by the Jesuit Giovanni Tristano, who took over from Vignola in 1571. When he died in 1575 he was succeeded by the Jesuit architect Giovanni de Rosis.. Giacoma della Porta was involved in the construction of the cross-vault, dome, and the apse. The revision of Vignola's façade design by della Porta has offered architectural historians opportunities for a close comparison between Vignola's balanced composition in three superimposed planes and Della Porta's dynamically fused tension bound by its strong vertical elements, contrasts that have sharpened architectural historians' perceptions for the last century (Whitman 1970:108). Vignola's rejected design remained readily available to architects and prospective patrons in an engraving of 1573. The design of this church has set a pattern for Jesuit churches that lasted into the twentieth century; its innovations require enumerating. Aesthetics across the Catholic Church as a whole were strongly influenced by the Council of Trent. Although the Council itself said little about church architecture, its suggestion of simplification prompted Charles Borromeo to reform ecclesiastical building practise. Evidence of attention to his writings can be found at the Gesù. There is no narthex in which to linger: the visitor is projected immediately into the body of the church, a single nave without aisles, so that the congregation is assembled and attention is focused on the high altar. In place of aisles there are a series of identical interconnecting chapels behind arched openings, to which entrance is controlled by decorative balustrades with gates. Transepts are reduced to stubs that emphasize the altars of their end walls. The plan synthesizes the central planning of the High Renaissance, expressed by the grand scale of the dome and the prominent piers of the crossing, with the extended nave that had been characteristic of the preaching churches, a type of church established by Franciscans and Dominicans since the thirteenth century. Everywhere inlaid polychrome marble revetments are relieved by gilding, frescoed barrel vaults enrich the ceiling and rhetorical white stucco and marble sculptures break out of their tectonic framing. The example of the Gesù did not completely eliminate the traditional basilica church with aisles, but after its example was set, experiments in Baroque church floor plans, oval or Greek cross, were largely confined to smaller churches and chapels. The church was consecrated by Cardinal Giulio Antonio Santori, the delegate of pope Gregory XIII on 25 November 1584.
Genoa A city of art, the capital of Liguria in northern Italy and metropolis looking onto the sea, Genoa has grown up around the city's port - a natural cove that has always been the site of thriving traffic and commerce. Its ancient heart, Europe's biggest historic medieval center, is crisscrossed by a tight weave of alleys that capture the multicultural soul that has always characterized the city's history. Here, among workshops, eateries, and beautiful shops, glimmers a glimpse of the noble past of Genoa, "La Superba", consisting of sixteenth-century villas, Baroque votive aedicules, and prestigious churches giving onto small squares nestled between the buildings. Modernity is a few steps away, in places returned to the people and tourists by restoration and great urban renewal projects conducted over the last decade. Genoa offers a dizzying mix of the old and the new. The Expo with the Aquarium, Via San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Ducale, and the splendid Via Garibaldi full of museums. The city's charm can also be found in the numerous delegations from Nervi to Voltri - autonomous cities until the 20's - where visitors can explore villas surrounded by nineteenth-century parks, picturesque sea strolls, and museums large and small. Text: www.turismo.comune.genova.it