Vicenza is known as the city of Andrea Palladio (1502-1580), who started out as a mere mason and became one of most influential architect of all time. Founded in the 2nd century B.C. in northern Italy, Vicenza prospered under Venetian rule from the early 15th to the end of the 18th century. The work of Palladio, based on a detailed study of classical Roman architecture, gives the city its unique appearance. Palladio's urban buildings, as well as his villas, scattered throughout the Veneto region, had a decisive influence on the development of architecture. His work inspired a distinct architectural style known as Palladian, which spread to England and other European countries, and also to North America. Walking around the city, it is interesting to study the evolution of his distinctive, and often copied style. In the center is a monumental basilica which also served as town hall, all around are the palaces he built for the city's weathly citizens, and in the periphery of the town are several villas. The City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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