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Byzantine Architecture


									Byzantine Architecture
Byzantine Empire
When he Roman Empire fell in 476 AD the Middle Age started. However,
before its fall, the empire was divided into the Eastern and Western
Roman Empires. In 476, the "Western Roman Empire" fell, while the Eastern
Roman Empire, whose capital became Constantinople, preserved Roman
culture (and architecture) and became the Byzantine Empire.
The religious buildings and their designs are the first achievements of
the Byzantine Empire. Another important advancement was the development
of bacilicas. Bacilicas were early Christian or medieval churches. This
style was common in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Byzantine and Islamic architecture share a common trend: that is, the use
of the dome. One example is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which was
Islamic architecture, but illustrates the influence Byzantine bestowed as
the dome style passed on to the Muslims. They often used "Persian' dome.
We modernly refer to this as the Onion Dome. The most celebrated example
is the Taj Mahal (A.D. 1630) at Agra, India. Byzantine's advancement in
developing the dome created a new style in global architecture, for no
other civilization had designed buildings, especially religious
buildings, as did the Byzantines.
Structural evolution
As early as the building of Constantine's churches in Palestine there
were two chief types of plan in use: the basilican, or axial, type,
represented by the basilica at the Holy Sepulchre, and the circular, or
central, type, represented by the great octagonal church once at Antioch.
Those of the latter type we must suppose were nearly always vaulted, for
a central dome would seem to furnish their very raison d'etre. The
central space was sometimes surrounded by a very thick wall, in which
deep recesses, to the interior, were formed, as at the noble church of St
George, Salonica (5th century), or by a vaulted aisle, as at Sta
Costanza, Rome (4th century); or annexes were thrown out from the central
space in such a way as to form a cross, in which these additions helped
to counterpoise the central vault, as at the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia,
Ravenna (5th century). The most famous church of this type was that of
the Holy Apostles, Constantinople. Vaults appear to have been early
applied to the basilican type of plan; for instance, at Hagia Irene,
Constantinople (6th century), the long body of the church is covered by
two domes.
Hagia Sophia
The Golden Age of Byzantine Architecture was under the rule of Justian in
527-565. It was during this period that the most famous examples of all
Byzantine Architecture was built, including the Hagia Sophia. The Hagia
Sophia was rebuilt from 532 to 537 after the previous church was
destroyed by riots and fires. This church has some unique features which
became the patterns for Byzantine Architecture for years after.
The style of the Hagia Sophia or Church of Divine Wisdom, was to have a
large dome in the middle of the structure. The dome has a unique form in
that it rest on 4 massive pillars which are arranged in a square.

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