The central building was begun in 1546 under commission by the Venetian patricians Paolo and Francesco Contarini. Controversial is the attribution of the design to the famous architect Andrea Palladio. This first edifice was later enlarged in the late 17th century by Marco Contarini.
The magniloquent baroque appearance that the Villa Contarini displays today is, in all probability, the result of the seventeenth-century transformation of a villa designed by Andrea Palladio in the 1540s for Paolo Contarini and his brothers. The attribution is not certain and there were made also the names of Vincenzo Scamozzi and of Baldassare Longhena.
Traces of palladian work linger on in maps and archival documents, although little is now visible of a building which was transformed in several campaigns from 1662 on. In 1676 the right wing was enlarged and remodelled, with a two-storey order of rustic columns and telamons, and a program of ostentatious sculptural decoration which invades the principal villa block too.
The chapel is one of the most important works designed by Tommaso Temanza.
Front and section of the main building of the villa (drawing by Francesco Muttoni, 1760)
The left wing (in the background); at left, the chapel, designed by Tommaso Temanza
The barchessa (right wing)
The porticoed hemicycle of the piazza
- Villa Contarini in CISA website (source for the first revision of the historical section, with kind permission)
- Official website (Italian) ((English) abstract)