What is a Venetian Window?

Diane Goettel

A Venetian window is a kind of window designed in the style of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio, who lived and worked in the 16th century. This kind of window consists of three windows, the central one being larger than the other two and topped with an arch. As the design is often attributed to Palladio's work, these kinds of windows are also sometimes called Palladian windows. Yet another name for these kinds of windows is Serlian windows, which comes from the writings of Sebastiano Serlio, who live in the late 15th and early to mid-16th century and wrote about the design in a multi-volume book about architecture.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

There is some variation in the Venetian window design. Furthermore, as it is a design that has been in use for many hundreds of years, it has been reinterpreted a number of times. In the basic design for a Venetian window the two smaller windows that flank the central window are rectangular in shape, without arches on the top. Some variations on the design, however, include arches at the tops of the two smaller windows in addition to the arch that is commonly used to top the central window.

Other variations in Venetian window design have to do with the sizes of the windows and the shape of the arch. In some cases, the arches are quite high and some are even pointed at the top. In other cases, the central panel of a Venetian window may be topped with a very shallow arch. The variations in the arches of the central panel in a Venetian window also appear in the two side panels.

Another variation has to do with the width of the flanking windows in comparison to the width of the central window. Sometimes the side windows are as much as half the size as the central windows. There are other cases, however, where the side windows are quite thin in comparison to the central window. They may be as narrow as one-fifth or one-tenth the width of the central windows.

In modern construction and home design, the term "Venetian window" is sometimes used quite loosely. It may be used to describe three windows that are used to make up a bay window. It may also be used to describe three windows that include one central window but do not have any arches.

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