As we continue our stroll, we’ll discuss the lives and achievements of our two polar-opposite architects. Soon we’ll cross the Tiber River on the Ponte Sant’Angelo. Of course we’ll stop to talk about it! After all, Bernini redecorated this ancient Roman bridge with gorgeous theatrical angels to celebrate the brief pontificate of Pope Clement IX. Then, in Piazza San Pietro, we will focus on the monumental colonnade that Bernini designed at Pope Alexander VII’s request. Classical inspiration meets Catholic aspirations. The colonnade that embraces the faithful as they enter the Piazza is a hymn to Greek and Roman temple architecture.
Inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, we’ll admire the Canopy (aka Baldacchin) over the High Altar. Young Bernini had just become Chief Architect of Saint Peter’s, when Pope Urban VIII assigned him this project. While a brilliant sculptor (and businessman), Bernini was less familiar with architecture. So he farmed the job out to Borromini. Using Borromini’s design (and paying him a fraction of what he deserved), Bernini cheated the timid architect out of his share of recognition. And even today, most people credit Bernini with the creation of the Baldacchin! This low blow would only intensify their rivalry.