The Baroque style evolved in the early 17th century in Rome . It is characterized by curved outlines and ostentatious decoration , as can be seen seen in the Italian church details (right) . The baroque style was particularly widely favored in Italy , Spain and Germany . It was also adopted in Britain and France , but with adaptions . The British architects Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksomoor , for example, used baroque features – such as the concave walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the curved buttresses of the and volutes of the Parisian Church of St. paul-St . Louis are relatively plain. In the second half of the 17th century , a distinct classical style (known as neoclassical) developed in Northern Europe as a reaction to the excesses of baroque . Typical of this new style were churches such as the Madeleine (a proposed facade is shown below ) , as well as secular buildings such as the Cirque Napoleon (opposite) and the builds of the British architecture Sir John Soane . In early 18th century France , an extremely lavish from from of baroque developed , known as rococo . The balcony from Nantes with its twisted ironwork and head-shaped corbels is typical of this style .