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At Jarash in Jordan the church of the Apostles and Martyrs is a cross inscribed in a square, heralding a typically Byzantine plan of later centuries. John the Baptist, and to St. George consists of two basilicas flanking a rotunda with an ambulatory — and an apse in the east. The sanctuaries of Egypt were also influenced by those of Constantinople, the Greek countries, and Italy. Menas, nearer the coast first half of the 5th century , combine the influences of Constantinople and Italy in the three-lobed sanctuary, the transept, and the long basilica room with three aisles.

The ties between the Latin West and the Greek East, particularly strong in the 4th and 5th centuries, relaxed in the 6th. Beginning with the reign of Justinian, a true Byzantine architecture developed from the new capital.

In the western Mediterranean, the end of the ancient world and of early Christian architecture came with the fall of the Roman Empire in When Constantine began to build his new capital on the Bosporus, a mass of artisans was assembled for the purpose. The majority of them were drawn from Rome, so that, at first, official art was early Christian in style and was, in fact, virtually Roman art: the Classical basilica was adopted as the usual type of Christian church; portrait statues of emperors were set up as in pagan times, and sarcophagi were elaborately sculptured; floor mosaics of Classical character were widely used; and works in ivory and metal retained a basically Roman character.

Change was in the air, however, even before the capital had been moved from Rome. In architecture the post-and-lintel style in stone, which had been taken over from the Greeks, was already giving place to an architecture of arches, vaults, and domes in brick, whereas sculptural ornament was becoming more formal and less naturalistic. These changes were accelerated at Constantinople partly because of the proximity of the city to Asia Minor and Syria, both fertile centres of new artistic ideas that had developed independently of Rome.

The Sculptural Decoration of the Doric Order ca. 375 - 31 BC

Indeed, church architecture in those areas progressed considerably between the 4th and the 6th centuries, while in the visual arts a style that favoured formality and expression rather than the idealized naturalism of Classical art had begun to find approval at an early date. The religious structures he set up were of two principal types: longitudinal basilicas and centralized churches. The former, usually with three aisles, were intended for congregational worship; the latter, which were circular, square, or even octagonal, were for burial or commemorative usage.

Both types were to be found over a very wide area, though there were, of course, numerous local variations. It was through a subtle combination of the two types that the characteristic church of the Byzantine Empire emerged, thanks to some experiments made in the eastern Mediterranean area in the 5th century.

The progress cannot be followed exactly because so much has been destroyed, but the earliest surviving church in Constantinople, that of St. John of Studium Mosque of İmrahor , shows that this process had already gone quite far by the year it was built, It is a basilica in that it has an eastern apse and three aisles, but in plan it approaches a centralized building, for it is nearly square, in contrast to the long basilicas in vogue in Rome.

A similar change characterizes the sculptures that adorn its facade, for they are in low relief, in contrast with typical Roman high-relief sculpture, and the motifs are treated formally, as pieces of pattern, rather than as depictions of natural forms. The process of development that began in such examples had greatly advanced by the end of the century, as recently discovered remains of the church of St.

Polyeuktos show.

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The church was founded by the princess Juliana Anicia granddaughter of Valentinian III , whose name is known from an illuminated manuscript dated The change was advanced still further some 30 years later, thanks to the patronage of the emperor Justinian, one of the greatest builders of all time. He was responsible for four major churches in Constantinople: Saints Sergius and Bacchus, a centralized building; the church of St.

Eirene Irene , a basilica roofed by two domes in echelon i. The distinctive feature of all these structures was the form of roof, the dome. In Saints Sergius and Bacchus it stood on an octagonal base, so that no great problems were involved in converting the angular ground plan to a circle on which the dome could rest. But in the others the dome stands above a square, and the transition from the one to the other was complicated. Two separate processes of doing this had evolved: the squinch, a niche or arch in the corner of the square, which transformed it into an octagon, over which the dome could be placed without great difficulty; and the pendentive, a spherical triangle fitted into the corners of the square, its vertical sides corresponding to the curves of the arches supporting the dome and its upper side corresponding to the circular base of the drum.

This served to brace and support the weight and to transfer it downward to the ground at the same time.


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The squinch served its purpose well enough and continued in use for many centuries, but it had certain weaknesses; the pendentive was one of the great architectural inventions of all time, transforming what had been mere building, where stress was counteracted by mass, into organic architecture, where thrust was compensated by thrust and strength depended on balance. So far as is known, the squinch was first used in Persia and the pendentive in Syria.

In plan it is almost square, but looked at from within, it appears to be rectangular, for there is a great semidome at east and west above that prolongs the effect of the roof, while on the ground there are three aisles, separated by columns with galleries above. At either end, however, great piers rise up through the galleries to support the dome. Above the galleries are curtain walls non-load-bearing exterior walls at either side, pierced by windows, and there are more windows at the base of the dome.

The columns are of finest marble, selected for their colour and variety, while the lower parts of the walls are covered with marble slabs. Like the elaborately carved cornices and capitals, these survive, but the rest of the original decoration, including most of the mosaics that adorned the upper parts of the walls and the roof, have perished.

They were all described in the most glowing terms by early writers. It was built as the result of the destruction in a riot of its predecessor, the basilica begun by Constantine, and the work of rebuilding was completed in the amazingly short period of five years, 10 months, and four days, under the direction of two architects from Asia Minor, Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, in the year From the little known it would seem that similar changes were taking place in secular architecture.

The walls of the city, which still in greater part survive, were set up under Theodosius II — early in the 5th century, and already the method of construction where a number of courses of brick alternate with those of stone and the forms of vaulting used to support the floors in the numerous towers show several innovations. The walls themselves, a triple line of defense, with towers at alternate intervals in the inner and middle wall, were far in advance of anything erected previously; they were, indeed, so well conceived that they served to protect the city against every assault until the Turks, supported by cannon, attacked with vastly superior odds in Also distinctive were the underground cisterns, of which more than 30 are known in Constantinople today.

They all took on the same character, with strong outer walls and roofs of small domes supported on tall columns. Some are of great size, some comparatively small. In some, like the great cistern near Hagia Sophia called by the Turks the Yerebatan Underground Palace, old material was reused; in others, like the even more impressive Binbirdirek Thousand and One Columns cistern, new columns of unusually tall and slender proportions and new capitals of cubic form were designed specially.

These cisterns assured an adequate supply of water even when the aqueducts that fed the city were cut by an attacking enemy. Many of them were still in use at the end of the 19th century. Contemporary texts show that the houses were often large and elaborate and had at least two stories, while the imperial palace was built on enormous terraces of masonry on the slopes bordering the upper shores of the Sea of Marmara.

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The palace was founded by Constantine, but practically every subsequent emperor added to it, and it eventually became a vast conglomeration of buildings extending over more than acres 40 hectares. Many of the buildings were of a very original character, if the descriptions that survive are to be believed; unfortunately, nearly all have been destroyed in the course of time.

A common theme in the history of Byzantium of this period is the attempt to ban the veneration of icons the representation of saintly or divine personages. This Iconoclastic Controversy raged for a century, from the time Iconoclasm became an imperial policy under Leo III in until icon veneration was officially proclaimed as Orthodox belief in The emperors were not necessarily opposed to all building and art, however.

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It is known from texts that Theophilus — was responsible for numerous additions to the Great Palace. The most understanding of the emperors in the years immediately succeeding Iconoclasm was Basil I — Like many of his predecessors, he built in the area of the Great Palace, his most interesting contributions being two churches, the New Church and the church of the Theotokos of the Pharos. These set a fashion in church building and decoration that was to exercise an influence for many centuries.

Neither survives, but something is known of them from written descriptions; it would seem that both were typical of what was to be the mid-Byzantine style. Broadly speaking, the churches of this age conform to a single type, usually termed the cross-in-square. It is made up of three aisles, each one terminating in an apsidal chapel at the east, with a transverse nave, known as the exonarthex, at the west. Invariably, there was a dome over the central aisle, supported on four columns, with four vaults radiating from it to roof the central aisle to the west, the sanctuary to the east, and the central portions of the side aisles to the north and south.

These vaults rose above the roofs of the other portions of the building, so that the church was cruciform at roof level.

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Excluding the exonarthex, the churches were usually almost as broad as they were long, making the basic plan virtually a square. Occasionally, additional columns were used to extend the nave westward, producing a type known as the domed basilica; sometimes the walls separating the eastern ends of the side aisles from the central presbytery were extended westward as substitutes for the two eastern columns upholding the dome, but the essentials of the plan were always retained.

Subsidiary domes were sometimes added, either in place of the vaults on the arms of the cross, producing a true five-domed type such as St. These domes were usually comparatively small and were set on drums, which tended to become narrower and taller with the progress of time. The eastern extremities of the side aisles formed chapels which played an important part in the liturgy, that to the north being termed the prothesis and that to the south the diakonikon.

Both the chapels and the main sanctuary were separated from the body of the church by a screen, which also became taller and heavier until it developed into the massive iconostasis that constitutes such a characteristic feature of Orthodox churches today. As in earlier periods, the lower portions of the walls were, in the richer churches, covered with marble slabs; and there were elaborately carved cornices and capitals, though ornament was always rather formal and in low relief.

The main church at the monastery of St. Luke near Delphi, in Greece c. In general they are on a small scale and follow the plan of those of the middle Byzantine period. But their appearance changed quite considerably, with the domes becoming smaller and higher, while the wall surfaces of the exterior were usually elaborately decorated, either with intricate patterns in brickwork or by setting glazed pottery vessels into the wall to form friezes similar to work in tile.

In Constantinople elaborate blank arcading also played an important role, as, for example, in the church of the Pammakaristos Virgin Mosque of Fethiye; c. The building material varied with the locality, though generally brick was preferred to stone. In the details of planning and in the handling there was considerable regional variation, and numerous local styles may be distinguished. Grandeur was generally lacking—except perhaps in the churches set up for the Comnene emperors of Trebizond, a state on the south side of the Black Sea, ruled by Greeks — —but all the buildings have considerable charm and deserve fuller consideration than they have sometimes received.

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Good work was done even after the Turkish conquests, especially on Mount Athos, Greece, and in the Romanian region of Moldavia, where the large-scale painted churches, which mostly date from the 16th and 17th centuries, are often both magnificent and very beautiful. Even at this period, little is known of secular architecture, but a portion of the Blachernae Palace at Constantinople may be noted, as well as the monasteries, particularly those on Mount Athos; though they have been much restored or even wholly rebuilt, the general layout of most follows a Byzantine scheme.

Kievan Rus was converted to Christianity in , and in Kiev, its dominant political and cultural centre, mosaics dating from about were created by Byzantine craftsmen. Other Byzantine artists and artisans worked intermittently in the area from that time onward, so that Russian art as a whole was founded on a Byzantine basis. Architecture and icon painting grew up as important independent arts, both having their beginnings during this period.


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  6. From Kiev the Byzantine style of architecture soon spread throughout the principalities of Novgorod and Vladimir-Suzdal. The emphasis of the Byzantine church on the physical splendour of its edifices was a cardinal factor in determining the characteristics of Russian ecclesiastical architecture.

    Everything connected with the design and decoration of the new churches followed the Byzantine pattern; and the standard scheme of the Greek church—the cross inscribed in a rectangle and the dome supported on piers or on pendentives—became the accepted type for Orthodox churches. The design and support of the central dome or cupola, together with the number and disposition of the subsidiary cupolas, remained for a long time the principal theme of Russian architecture. The main monuments of Kiev were the church of the Tithes — , the cathedral of St.

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    Sophia , and the church of the Assumption in the Monastery of the Caves — All of these churches were built in the Byzantine tradition, though certain influences from Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia can be discerned.