The Palace of Fine Arts in San francisco, California.

The San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts is a monument of unusual architecture with Roman columns in pale pink hues. It is a place of popular events and a tourist site. We are in 1915. The First World War had just begun. An earthquake had devastated San Francisco less than a decade earlier. When the city was chosen as the site of the Panama and Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco’s leaders wanted to create a lasting symbol of beauty while encouraging trade. A California architect who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris, Bernard Maybeck, was chosen to create the Palace. The purpose of his project was to recall the past vestiges, inspiredd by the ruins of the Roman Empire. Like the other structures built for the World’s Fair, the palace was only intended for temporary use. But while most of these other structures were demolished after the event, the palace remained. It was restored in the sixties and seventies. For a while it housed the famous San Francisco Exploratorium Museum. In 2013, the Exploratorium found a new home at Pier 15, located on the historic San Francisco Pier. Only a few structures from the 1915 exhibition remain, and the palace is the largest of them all. Australian eucalyptus trees and swans, geese and turtles can be seen walking through the park. The pergola located near the rotunda and near the lagoon is also a popular site with greenery and floral arrangements that harmonize with the surrounding lush landscape. In addition to private events, the Palace of Fine Arts periodically hosts events open to the public. These include festivals, special exhibitions, etc.

The architecture of the Palace.

The interior.

The outside.

The rotunda of the palace is an open-air octagon supported by eight triangular pillars that frame arched openings. The pillars consist of paired Corinthian columns, placed on a raised base outside the rotunda, and tiered planters that serve as platforms for giant ovoid urns. Inside the rotunda, the pillars have a single Corinthian column rising from the ground. The underside of the 162-foot-high hemispherical dome is terminated by polygonal caissons. Colonnades extend north and south of the rotunda. They bear a lintel entablature with a Greek-fretted architrave, a simple frieze, and a projecting cornice supported by mutules with an egg-and-dart moulding. The bays are defined by Corinthian columns along the planters at ground level. The capitals of the columns reach to the top of the entablature to support box-like structures originally intended to hold vines. Colossal “mourners” stand at the corners of these planters looking inward.