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The Ultimate Book on Rose Windows


Troia - West Facade


Typically the Puglian Norman Cathedrals had wagon wheel rose windows ("Rosone") in the West facade and at the South (and sometimes North) end of the transept.  The Puglian rose windows relied on intricate patterned stonework surrounds and sometimes Islamic style screening (called transennae) for their effect, and were glazed with clear glass or alabaster - and sometimes (if screened) not glazed at all.


Troia has the ultimate screened rosone - 22 separately patterned marble transennae made during the period 1160 - 80.  Troia is not a Norman built Cathedral in the sense that the town was outside the Norman controlled area of southern Italy, but the masons and artists travelled widely within southern Italy, and latterly spilled north (the elder Pisano for example came from Puglia).


It is likely that the windows below would also have been surrounded by impressive medieval bestiaries and seasons of the year signs and every day life scenes, plus the four symbols of the Evangelists.   though the ravages of time and sea air have caused the disappearance of many of these. 


By contrast, in the great cathedrals of northern France such as Chartres, and England, the focus within the rose windows was on leaded stained glass set in complex stone tracery, which allowed imagery and narrative within the window.  Some of them (such as Notre Dame de Paris) incorporated illustrations of seasonal life and zodiac signs.


Back in central Italy, wagon wheels give way to occuli - large round windows with leaded narrative stained glass but no fancy stonework.  Duccio, Donatello and others all tried their hands at this form of artistic expression.


Trani       South Transept (above - a unique design)     West facade (below)
Ruvo di Puglia, West Facade
Bitonto       West Facade (Above)    South Transept (Below)



Photo Holly Hayes, Sacred Destinations


Altamura - Cattedrale dell'Assunta



Acquaviva *

between Bari and Altamura (sort of)



Ostuni Cattedrale *

NW of Brindisi - built later (1400s)



Giovinazzo (Transept) *

just south of Molfetta




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Photos marked * come from this excellent coffee table book



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