In the 7th grade, we are exploring the concept of civic pride in the Italian city-states during the Renaissance. One of the ways this loyalty to the city-state manifested itself was in a rivalry over which city-state had the most impressive, most innovative, most beautiful cathedral. Yesterday, we explored two such buildings, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and the Milan Cathedral. We noticed how the Gothic architecture of the Milan Cathedral reflected the outlook of the late medieval period the students explored in sixth grade. Over 130 spires draw the viewer’s eye directly up to heaven and God, illustrating the medieval focus on religion and the afterlife. In distinct contrast, St. Mark’s embraces the Byzantine style with domes and rounded arches. These shapes hug the earth, drawing the viewer’s attention toward the secular world as Renaissance humanists would have valued. The classical features of St. Mark’s, including its many columns, also demonstrate the humanists’ celebration of ancient Greece and Rome. When the beautiful photographs of these gorgeous structures went up on the StarBoard in class, there were gasps of appreciation from the students, and we enjoyed basking in the splendor of these two cathedrals.