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Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture Architectural History ACT 322 Doris Kemp.

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Presentation on theme: "Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture Architectural History ACT 322 Doris Kemp."— Presentation transcript:

1 Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture Architectural History ACT 322 Doris Kemp

2 Topics Byzantine Architecture Byzantine Architecture The Ideal Byzantine Church The Ideal Byzantine Church Central Plan Central Plan Domes Domes Lighting and Decoration Lighting and Decoration Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Other Justinian Structures Other Justinian Structures

3 Byzantine Architecture In the years around 500 A.D. the Western Empire laid in ruins In the years around 500 A.D. the Western Empire laid in ruins Rome had been sacked twice and Italy was in the hands of the Ostrogoths Rome had been sacked twice and Italy was in the hands of the Ostrogoths The Eastern Empire lived on The Eastern Empire lived on Constantinople was the capitol of the Eastern Empire Constantinople was the capitol of the Eastern Empire Had been built on the Hellenic city of Byzantium (modern day Istanbul, Turkey) Had been built on the Hellenic city of Byzantium (modern day Istanbul, Turkey)

4 Byzantine Architecture A formal shift from early Christian to Byzantine architecture can be seen in the early sixth century A.D. A formal shift from early Christian to Byzantine architecture can be seen in the early sixth century A.D. Timber-roofed Latin basilican churches gave way to domed, central-plan structures in the Eastern Empire Timber-roofed Latin basilican churches gave way to domed, central-plan structures in the Eastern Empire

5 Byzantine Architecture: Ideal Byzantine Church No two Byzantine churches were identical No two Byzantine churches were identical Features of the ideal Byzantine church: Features of the ideal Byzantine church: Central plan Central plan Pendentive dome Pendentive dome String focus on structure, lighting, and elaborate decoration String focus on structure, lighting, and elaborate decoration

6 Byzantine Architecture: Ideal Byzantine Church Central Plan Central Plan The axis descended away from visitors The axis descended away from visitors Leaves no possible active participation except weakly around a central axis Leaves no possible active participation except weakly around a central axis In most Byzantine churches, the centralized building core was square In most Byzantine churches, the centralized building core was square

7 Byzantine Architecture: Ideal Byzantine Church Domes Domes Central core of the church formed an integral part of a larger structure that included supporting structure and vaulting as well Central core of the church formed an integral part of a larger structure that included supporting structure and vaulting as well The dome complimented the spatial core of the church The dome complimented the spatial core of the church Domes were generally placed over cylinders, as at the Pantheon Domes were generally placed over cylinders, as at the Pantheon

8 Byzantine Architecture: Ideal Byzantine Church Domes Domes Occasionally, domes were placed over polygons or even squares Occasionally, domes were placed over polygons or even squares Created certain structural problems Created certain structural problems Pendentive Pendentive Provided a way to set a circle (dome) atop a square Provided a way to set a circle (dome) atop a square A Roman invention, though rarely used A Roman invention, though rarely used Byzantines used pendentives very often Byzantines used pendentives very often Domes were used to invoke powerful images of the Christian heaven Domes were used to invoke powerful images of the Christian heaven

9 Byzantine Architecture: Ideal Byzantine Church Photo: Sullivan

10 Byzantine Architecture: Ideal Byzantine Church Lighting and Decoration Lighting and Decoration Articulation was very important in Byzantine architecture Articulation was very important in Byzantine architecture No visible surfaces were left in a natural state No visible surfaces were left in a natural state All was dissolved in color and light: All was dissolved in color and light: Glowing marble pavements Glowing marble pavements Richly veined marble walls Richly veined marble walls Extensive mosaic cycles Extensive mosaic cycles Rich patterns of light created by glass and structural features Rich patterns of light created by glass and structural features

11 Byzantine Architecture: Ideal Byzantine Church Photo: Sullivan

12 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Symbolizes the “ideal” Byzantine church Symbolizes the “ideal” Byzantine church Built as the new Cathedral of Constantinople by the Emperor Justinian in 532 – 537 A.D. Built as the new Cathedral of Constantinople by the Emperor Justinian in 532 – 537 A.D. Intended to be the keystone of Justinian’s massive architectural campaign Intended to be the keystone of Justinian’s massive architectural campaign

13 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Photo: Sullivan

14 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Justinian believed that only natural scientists and philosophers would be able to create the structure he had seen in his dreams Justinian believed that only natural scientists and philosophers would be able to create the structure he had seen in his dreams Designed by two men: Designed by two men: Anthemius of Tralles Anthemius of Tralles Natural scientist Natural scientist Mathematician Mathematician Isidorus of Miletus Isidorus of Miletus Professor of stereometry and physics at Constantinople Professor of stereometry and physics at Constantinople

15 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Photo: Sullivan

16 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Built in an amazing five years Built in an amazing five years Its first dome was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 563 A.D. Its first dome was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 563 A.D. Was converted to a mosque by the Ottoman Turks Was converted to a mosque by the Ottoman Turks

17 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia Has some structural problems Has some structural problems Main piers are of excellent solidarity, built of massive ashlar masonry Main piers are of excellent solidarity, built of massive ashlar masonry Rest of the building, however, was built of brick in thick mortar beds Rest of the building, however, was built of brick in thick mortar beds The dome generates tremendous pressure The dome generates tremendous pressure Corners are supported by pendentives but the sides have little support Corners are supported by pendentives but the sides have little support

18 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Photo: Sullivan

19 Byzantine Architecture: Hagia Sophia Photo: Sullivan

20 Byzantine Architecture: Other Justinian Structures No other Byzantine churches approach even half the scale of Hagia Sophia No other Byzantine churches approach even half the scale of Hagia Sophia Two churches bear a resemblance to Hagia Sophia Two churches bear a resemblance to Hagia Sophia SS. Sergious and Bacchus SS. Sergious and Bacchus S. Vitale S. Vitale

21 Byzantine Architecture: Other Justinian Structures SS. Sergius and Bacchus SS. Sergius and Bacchus Located in Constantinople Located in Constantinople Built as a palace chapel between 527 and 536 Built as a palace chapel between 527 and 536 Many historians believe it was an experimental version of the Hagia Sophia Many historians believe it was an experimental version of the Hagia Sophia

22 Byzantine Architecture: Other Justinian Structures Photo: Sullivan

23 Byzantine Architecture: Other Justinian Structures S. Vitale S. Vitale Located in Ravenna, Italy Located in Ravenna, Italy Very precise and strict double-shell form that featured a dome Very precise and strict double-shell form that featured a dome Featured mosaics of Justinian and his queen, Theodora, and their court Featured mosaics of Justinian and his queen, Theodora, and their court

24 Byzantine Architecture: Other Justinian Structures Photo: Sullivan

25 Byzantine Architecture: Other Justinian Structures Church of St. John the Evangelist Church of St. John the Evangelist Built at his tomb in the Hellenistic city of Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor Built at his tomb in the Hellenistic city of Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor c. 548 A.D. c. 548 A.D. Photo: Sullivan

26 Byzantine Architecture: Other Justinian Structures S. Marco S. Marco Located in Venice, Italy Located in Venice, Italy Although built in the Romanesque Period (c – 1094), it is considered more Byzantine in style than Romanesque Although built in the Romanesque Period (c – 1094), it is considered more Byzantine in style than Romanesque Photo: Sullivan

27 References Sullivan, Mary; Sullivan, Mary; Trachtenburg/Hyman; Architecture: From Prehistory to Postmodernity Trachtenburg/Hyman; Architecture: From Prehistory to Postmodernity Wodehouse/Moffett; A History of Western Architecture Wodehouse/Moffett; A History of Western Architecture

28 Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture Architectural History ACT 322 Doris Kemp


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