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A Renaissance theme park: the lost ‘garden of marvels’ at Pratolino

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Darwin Lecture Theatre

Gower Street

London

WC1E 6XA

United Kingdom

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In the late 16th century Grand Duke Francesco de Medici had a garden built in the hils near Florence, to please his beautiful and reckless Venetian mistress Bianca Cappello. This park at Pratolino became hugely famous in its time as a place of marvels, its influence spreading through gardens across Europe. Francesco’s designer Bermardo Buontalenti filled the park and villa with games, grottoes, automated statues, water jokes, artificial rainbows, artificial birdsong, and pipe organs that played themselves without human intervention. Pratolino was arguably the world’s first theme park. The entertainments soon fell into ruin however and in the 19th century were all swept away. This lecture will recreate Pratolino and take the audience on a tour of this strange and mythical place.

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Darwin Lecture Theatre

Gower Street

London

WC1E 6XA

United Kingdom

View Map

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