Architect-engineer Giovanni Branca was born on 22 April 1571 in Lizzola, near Pesaro.

By Costanza Beltrami

Architect-engineer Giovanni Branca was born on 22 April 1571 in Lizzola, near Pesaro. He studied mathematics and architecture in Rome before being nominated resident architect of the Holy House of Loreto, a sanctuary which is said to contain the very house where the Virgin Mary lived, miraculously translated from Nazareth at the end of the thirteenth century.

Branca is remembered for his inventions, published in two treatises, Architecture Manual (Manuale di architettura, Ascoli, 1629), and Machines: New and ingenious volume on how to obtain marvelous results with both air flows and animal power (Le machine, volume nuovo e di molto artificio da fare effetti meravigliosi tanto spiritali quanto di animale operazione, Rome, 1629). Both texts were really successful, especially a section of 32 aphorisms on hydraulic engineering contained in the Manuale, still widely read in the eighteenth century.


Reference: Enzo Pozzato, ‘BRANCA, Giovanni’ in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 13 (1971). http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giovanni-branca_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/.

Ionic capital and base, from Manuale di Architettura (Ascoli, 1629). Photo: Archive.org.

Procedure to double a square, from Manuale di Architettura (Ascoli, 1629). Photo: Archive.org.

A machine to move boats, from Le machine, volume nuovo e di molto artificio da fare effetti meravigliosi tanto spiritali quanto di animale operazione (Rome, 1629). Photo: Archive.org.

A wind-powered cart, from Le machine, volume nuovo e di molto artificio da fare effetti meravigliosi tanto spiritali quanto di animale operazione (Rome, 1629). Photo: Archive.org.

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