FONTANA, Domenico
(b. 1543, Melide, d. 1607, Napoli)

Palazzo del Laterano with the Loggia delle Benedizioni

1589
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Piazza San Giovanni, Rome

The Lateran Palace is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence. Adjacent to the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, the cathedral church of Rome, Italy, the Lateran Palace is now occupied by the Museo Storico Vaticano which illustrates the history of the Papal States.

In 1586 Pope Sixtus V destroyed what remained of the ancient palace of the Lateran and erected the present much smaller edifice in its place. The architect he employed, immediately upon his election, was Domenico Fontana, who was engaged in alterations to the basilica at the same time. Fontana's strong restrained style, influenced by Giacomo Vignola and modelled upon Palazzo Farnese for its regular and harmonious if somewhat bland major façade, and Fontana's sound engineering basis and power of co-ordinating a complicated architectural program on a tightly constrained site, which Sixtus urged forward at top speed, are remarkable. The palace was completed in 1589.

The benediction loggia at the Lateran Palace was constructed on the order of Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303). It was used by the pope to bless the faithful.