The Most Important Buildings of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Cultures

Topics: Roman Empire, Hagia Sophia, Byzantine Empire Pages: 7 (2827 words) Published: September 23, 2013


The Most Important Buildings of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Cultures

We have been impacted every parts of our lives by influence of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic cultures, which is not only architecture but religion, art, and so on. Especially, influence of these cultures can be found all over the world in today’s architecture. Before talking about the architectural importance of these cultures, we should briefly know the relationship among these three cultures in terms of historical views. The start point of the three cultures was Early Christian culture, produced by Christians or under Christian patronage between about 350 and 525. After 550 at the latest, Christian architecture is classified as Byzantine, or of some other regional type, and the Islamic architecture was heavily influenced by the Byzantine architecture. As the following of historical times, the three cultures are inseparable factors each other. These factors have descended to today’s architecture.

First of all, as the start point of these three cultures, Early Christian culture is one of the important periods that show how these cultures had descended. Christian architecture developed drastically from its lowly beginnings through its illustrious history. Early Christians held meetings in converted Roman houses. The exterior would appear as a common Roman dwelling, marked only by the Cross painted above the door. The insides, however, were decorated and painted with Christian symbols and Biblical accounts. As Christianity became more accepted, they were able to experiment with their buildings. Like these historical factors, there is a significant Early Christian buildings; Old St. Peter’s in Rome [1]. Since many of the graves in Rome were at the outskirts of the city or in cemeteries outside the walls, the Christianization of Rome created an entirely new geographical profile previously unheard-of in the history of Western urbanization. It was no longer a forum, agora, or palace that dominated the city and its image, but rather the dozens of monasteries, baptisteries, and churches scattered in clusters in the farther reaches of the city and its environs. Whereas the St. John Lateran in Rome [2] is a basilica that had been established by imperial flat as the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, Bishop of Rome, it continues to serve as the political, religious, and administrative center of the Church. Constantine founded the original church over the tomb of St. Peter around 320 CE. Though a basilica, St. Peter’s had a slightly different shape than St. John Lateran, reflecting its status as a martyrium. A broad flight of stairs led to the atrium, built on a vast platform over the sloping ground. The platform itself was constructed over a Roman necropolis, with the tops of the various tomb structures cut off and the intermediate spaces filled in. The church itself, because of its use, was 112 meters in Lateran. The nave can be described as a covered street with colonnades on both sides. The columns were not built for the church but were taken from pre-Christian Roman buildings. The nave became a place where those who could afford the cost could be buried, and the floors were soon carpeted with graves. Part street, part graveyard, and part sanctuary, on feast days, it became the site of boisterous family celebrations. The rather dark nave, illuminated only by high clerestory windows, led not to an apse, as at St. John Lateran, but to a large transept, which was a unique space. As its focus, over the tomb of St. Peter in the crypt below and just in front of the apse, was a baldachino, or canopy, resting on four columns. Though today the nave-and-transept combination might seem common, that was not the case in the 4th century. The transept only became ubiquitous after the Carolingians made it a central part of their churches in differentiated the more popular martyrium church from an imperial basilica like St....
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