DECLINE OF ROME
• “Dark Ages”, but not for urban design
• Military strongholds, castles, monasteries, towns
• Acropolis and Capitoline Hill
• Built atop hills, enclosed by circular walls
• Radiocentric growth
Christianity had its birth in Judaea , an eastern province of the roman
empire, spread and carried by St.Peter, St.Paul and other missionaries
to Rome, as the center of the World – Empire.
Early Christian architecture at Rome was influenced by, and was the logical
outcome of, existing Roman architecture, modified in other parts of the empire
according to the type already recognized as suitable for the geographical
situation of those countries, such as Syria, asia minor , north Africa, and Egypt
Geological influences may
be said to have acted
indirectly on Early Christian
architecture for the ruins
of roman building often
provided the quarry where
obtained. This influenced
the style, both as regards
. Columns and other architectural features, as well as fine sculptures and
mosaics from older building, were incorporated into basilican churches of the
North Italy has the climate of the temperate region of Europe . Center Italy
is genial and sunny. Southern Italy is almost tropical. This variety of
climatic condition is sufficient to account for diversity of architectural
features and treatment in the peninsula itself
The climatic conditions in Roman provinces as Egypt , Syria, and North Africa
where christianity was established were varied , and naturally modified the
style in those countries where the fiercer sun and hotter climatic necessitated
small windows and other Eastern features.
• In all human history there is no record so striking as that of the rise of
Christianity a phenomenon so outstanding as the rapidity with which it was
diffused throughout the civilized world, and, not only in this period but also
in all subsequent ages.
• Christianity has inspired the building of some of the greatest architectural
The number of Christian communities established by the Apostle Paul
in his missionary journeys round the Eastern Mediterranean, in Syria,
Africa, Greece, and Italy, might lead us to expect many more ruins of
Early Christian basilican churches throughout these districts.
Old St. Peter's Basilica
• In this connection, however, it must be remembered that the God preached
by S. Paul was " not like unto gold or silver or stone graven by art and device
of man," nor a God that dwelled " in temples made with hands " like those of
the old Greeks and Romans which were built to shelter the statues of the
• Purpose of the Christian church was to shelter worshippers who met for
prayer and praise to an unseen Deity, and, during the unsettled conditions at
the beginning of Christianity, various places were adapted for this worship.
• Building of pagan temples ceased before any attempt was made to build
• In A.D. 313 Constantine issued his celebrated decree from Milan, giving
Christianity equal rights with other religions.
• in A.D. 323 he himself professed Christianity, which became the official
religion of the Roman Empire, and the Christians then began to build churches
of a type suit-able to their needs and ritual.
• Constantine changed the capital of the
Empire from Rome to Byzantium in
A.D. 324, when the old Roman political
system came to an end, and reigned as
an absolute monarch till his death in
• Christianity suffered disabilities upon
the division of the Roman Empire,
which first took place in A.D. 365 when
Valentinian became Emperor of the
West and his brother Valens of the East.
Colossal marble head of
Emperor Constantine the Great,
Roman, 4th century
Theodosius the Great (A.D. 379-395) reunited, for a time, the Eastern and
Western Empires, and in A.D. 438 Theodosius II published his legal code, an
important work on the constitutions of the Emperors from the time of
The series of Emperors in the West came to an end in A.D. 475, and the
Eastern and Western Empires were nominally reunited by Zeno, who reigned
Theodosius the Great
Zeno depicted on a Tremissis; the coin's
design celebrates Zeno's victories, and
was issued during his second reign.
-Then again the seat of power was changed, and
Theodoric the Goth reigned in Italy (A.D. 493–526)
during a period of peace and prosperity
-Byzantine art influenced Early Christian art by
way of Ravenna, which rivaled Rome in
importance and was the capital of the Gothic
Dynasty A.D. 493–552 with the exception of a
short period when it was subdued by Justinian
Bronze statue of
Theoderic the Great
-Kings were now elected for the separate states of
Spain, Gaul, Northern Africa, and Italy, where King
Odoacer recognized the supremacy of the one Roman
Emperor at Constantinople.
-Emancipation of Western Europe from direct Imperial
control resulted in the development of Romano-
Teutonic civilization, it facilitated the growth of new
states and nationalities, gave a fresh impulse to
Christianity, and eventually strengthened the power of
the Bishops of Rome.
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
Basilica of San Vitale
• The Early Christian period is generally taken as lasting from Constantine to
the death of Gregory the Great (A.D. 604), although in Rome and many
Italian cities it continued up to the tenth century.
• Huns incursions into Germany about A.D. 376 eventually brought about
invasions from the north into Italy, and in A.D. 410 Rome itself was sacked
by the Goths under Alaric.
Spread of the new religion was
arrested during this period of change
and upheaval, till A.D. 451, the defeat
of Attila, King of the Huns, at the
battle of Chalons aided in the
consolidation of Christianity in
Battle of Châlons
• In A.D. 568 the Lombards penetrated into Italy and held the northern
part for 200 years. In A.D. 800 Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope
in Rome, and from this date the Empire was styled the Holy Roman
Empire, a title retained till A.D. 1800.
Miniature depicting Pope Leo III crowning Charlemagne
emperor on Christmas Day, 800
Under Pope Gregory the Great (A.D.
590–604) Early Christian
architecture, the latest phase of
Roman art, gradually fell into disuse,
and for the next two centuries
architectural development was
practically at a standstill in Europe
Even though the influence of
Byzantium asserted itself, old Roman
traditions were in abeyance till the
time when Romanesque architecture
Pope Gregory dictating the Gregorian chant
Parts of an Early Christian Basilica
1) Propylaeum- the entrance building of a sacred precinct, whether
church or imperial palace.
2) Atrium- in early Christian, Byzantine, and medieval architecture,
the forecourt of a church; as a rule enveloped by four colonnaded
3) Narthex- the entrance hall or porch proceding the nave of a
4) Nave- the great central space in a church. In longitudinal
churches, it extends from the entrance to the apse (or only to the
crossing if the church has one) and is usually flanked by side aisles.
5) Side Aisle- one of the corridors running parallel to the nave of a
church and separated from it by an arcade or colonnade.
6) Crossing- the area in a church where the transept and the nave
7) Transept- in a cruciform church, the whole arm set at right angles
to the nave. Note that the transept appears infrequently in Early
Christian churches. Old St. Peter's is one of the few example of a
basilica with a transept from this period. The transept would not
become a standard component of the Christian church until the
8) Apse- a recess, sometimes rectangular but usually semicircular, in
the wall at the end of a Roman basilica or Christian church. The apse
in the Roman basilica frequently contained an image of the Emperor
and was where the magistrate dispensed laws. In the Early Christian
basilica, the apses contained the "cathedra" or throne of the bishop
and the altar.
Old St. Peter's in Rome
Parts of an Early Christian Basilica
5) Side Aisle-
8) Apse- a recess,
Old St. Peter's in Rome
•Early Christian architecture may be taken to have lasted from about 300 to 600 AD.
•The Early Christians, as Roman craftsmen, continued old Roman traditions
•Utilized as far as possible the materials from Roman temples which had become useless
for their original purpose for their new buildings.
•Their churches, modeled on Roman basilicas, used old columns which by various devices
were brought to a uniform height.
•Early Christian buildings hardly have the architectural value of a style produced by the
solution of constructive problems.
EARLY CHRISTIAN ARCHITECTURE- INTRODUCTION
o Basilican churches had either closely spaced columns carrying the
entablature, or more widely spaced columns carrying semicircular arches.
o The basilican church with there or five aisles, covered by a
simple timber roof, is typical of the Early Christian style as
opposed to the vaulted Byzantine church with its central circular
dome placed over a square by means of pendentives and
surrounded by smaller domes.
o It s long perspective of oft-repeated columns which carry the eye along to the sanctuary; a
treatment which, combined with the comparatively low height of interiors, makes these
churches appear longer than they really are, as it seen in S. Paolo fuori le Mura, and S.
An old Syrian Christian church with architectural
similarities of a temple in Chengannur,
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EARLY
CHRISTIAN CHURCH BUILDING
The church building as we know it grew out of a number of features of the Ancient Roman period:
1. The house church
2. The atrium
3. The basilica
4. The bema
5. The mausoleum: centrally-planned building
6. The cruciform ground plan: Latin or Greek cross
a . S i m p l i c i t y i n D e s i g n a n d T r e a t m e n t
b . C o a rs e n e s s i n E xe c u t i o n
Early Christian Architecture is Transitional Architecture
and have no own structure
When Early Christian communities
began to build churches they
drew on one particular feature of
the houses that preceded them,
the atrium, or courtyard with
a colonnade surrounding it. Most
of these atriums have
A fine example remains at the Basilica
of San Clemente (Rome)
Basilica typical plan. Types of Apse
A, A, apse 1. Semi-circular (Italian)
B,B’, secondary apse 2. Polygonal (German)
C, high altar 3. Square (English)
G, transept 4. Compound (French)
Interior of a basilica at Pompeii
Is a rectangular early
Christian or medieval
church, usually having
a nave with
clerestories, two or four
aisles, one or more
vaulted apses, and a
Monumental form of tomb.
A mausoleum is a house of the dead, although
ii is often as much a symbol as a sepulcher.
This term has been employed for large,
monumental, and stately tombs, usually
erected for distinguished or prominent
individuals. Mauseleum of Costantia (d. 534), featured a taller, domed, central circular
section surrounded by a vaulted ambulatory.
5. Latin cross and Greek cross
Greek cross; Latin cross; rotunda
These terms usually refer to the shape of a church.
A Greek cross church has four arms having the same length.
A Latin cross church has the arm of the entrance longer than the other arms.
Greek cross- the plans of SS. Martina
Rotunda- the plans of S. Bernardo alle
Latin cross plan- building process of S. Pietro in Vaticano
• Timber roofs covered the central nave, and only simple
forms of construction, such as king and queen post
trusses, were employed.
• The narrower side aisles were occasionally vaulted and
• Apse was usually domed and lined with beautiful glass
mosaics, which formed a fitting background to the
330 A.D. TO 1443 A.D. AND
Byzantine was renamed after
its imperial founder
and was inaugurated as the
capital of the Roman Empire
in 330 AD.
This is situated at the junction
of Europe ad Asia, in
addition it was a big centre
of trade and commerce.
Byzantine stood on seven hills.
It is at the junction of Europe and Asia, which are divided by
a narrow strip of water.
This gives the commanding and central position for government to
expand the Roman empire.
It was also at the intersection of two great highways of
commerce- the water highway between black sea and
Mediterranean sea and the trade route between Europe and Asia.
Constantinople had no good building stone there
fore local material such as clay for bricks and
rubble for concrete had to be imported. Marble
was brought from quarries in the island and along
the shores of eastern Mediterranean sea to
The climate was rather Hot, therefore small
windows at high level and few openings were used.
Flat roof in combination with domes and the open
courtyards surrounded by sheltering arcades
features are predominant.
Constantine established Christianity as the state
religion of Roman Empire and it followed that the
chief erected in byzantine is new capital were
churches for new region.
It represents fusion of oriental and roman classical Architecture.
The massive decoration had its origin in the ‘Babylonian Style’ while dome construction was
incorporated from Rome.
Horizontal lands were introduced the domical roof created an impression of vast
Interiors were decorated with massive glass work.
Use of centrals square plans. On square divisions to accommodate domes for roofing
system is the measure characteristic feature.
Modifications in Basilican plan consisted of
a. Deletion of atrium court
b. Incorporation of Narthex or vestibule as on Basilica of Constantinople
c. Deletion of Belfry towers.
Square plan of the eastern churches were termed as ‘Greek Cross Plans’
The form of eastern churches was mainly characterized faithful correspondence between
internal and external roof profiles.
A smooth profile due to absence of belfry towers, just a position of dome on the sky line
gives the style a distinct character in strong contrast of the spiky profile of early Christian
Externally Byzantine churches were characterized by brick work in courses and marble bands
on the brick walls.
Practice of horizontal bands of marble called striations was introduced.
The structural use of marginal columns made them massive.
A primitive form of dome and the barrel
vault is of great quality.
In some districts vaults were compelled to
built-in stone, brick or mud, because there
was no wood and tools to work.
In all such cases some form of dome or
tunnel vault had to devised for shelter.
In tracing the growth of the dome in
horizontal times, it has been regarded as an
out come of the eastern empire, because it
was at Constantinople and in the byzantine
province that it was employed in
But it was the Romans who in reality
developed the use of dome as of all other
applications of the semicircular arch from
Rome, gets carried to Constantinople and
from the same source different parts of
General facts and features
Hagia Sophia or the church of the holy wisdom is the most accomplished master piece in the
history of architecture
The church was constructed in 532 A.D. by Emperor Justinian in Constantinople now Istanbul
Hagia Sophia was the greatest vaulted space without intermediate supports that has ever
been built and it remained so throughout the history of the Byzantine Empire.
Its architects were Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, professors of geometry at the
University of Constantinople
The church provides an expert solution to the problem of how to place a dome on a square
The solution was to use pendentives
Hagia Sophia is covered by a central dome 102 feet (31 m) across, slightly smaller than
The dome seems rendered weightless by the unbroken arcade of arched windows under it,
which help flood the colorful interior with light
The dome is carried on pendentives
The weight of the dome passes through the pendentives to four massive piers at the corners
Between them the dome seems to float upon
four great arches
These four concave triangular sections of
masonry solved the problem of setting the
circular base of a dome on a rectangular base
The church form is a combination of centralized
and longitudinal structure
Longitudinal direction is defined by domes to
the east and west
St Mark is also a notable example of Byzantine architecture
It lies on St Mark's Square, one of the most famous squares in the
The church has five domes each topping a square
The church is based on a Greek cross floor plan, based on part on the
Hagia Sophia and the Basilica of the Apostles, both in Constantinople
Each arm of the cross is of the same length and is covered by a dome
A dome also covers the square space at the center
While the basic structure of the building has been little altered, its
decoration changed greatly over time
The front façade is Gothic and was added much later
Buildings and other Architectural Elements
Early Christian and Byzantine architecture was a continuation from the Roman Empire
Buildings and building practices continued from the Roman period to the Early Christian
and Byzantine period
All Roman civic and Residential buildings were used during the Early Christian and Byzantine
The only new element and the focus in the examination of the Early Christian and Byzantine
Architecture is the Christian church
The spread of Christianity in Rome led to the evolution of the Christian place of worship
The form of the early church was not new but an adaptation of the Roman Basilica
The Byzantine church form evolved much later than the Early Christian church forms
Materials, Construction and Techniques
The Early Christian and Byzantine period also had access to similar building materials and
construction technology as the Roman civilization
Where materials were not available, they were imported from colonies of the empire
In construction technology, the greatest contribution during the Early Christian and Byzantine era
was the discovery of the pendentive and Dome on pendentive
Using pendentives and Dome on pendentive, Byzantine architects were able to adapt the
circular profile of a dome roof to a square plan
By using several overlapping domes, Byzantine architects were able to create an intricate
interior structural system and external roof system
Intricate interior structural systems combined with decoration and lighting created
fascinating interior effects
The Early Christian and Byzantine period saw the most extensive use of clerestory windows
From early basilica churches to Byzantine churches, clerestory windows were used to provide
lighting in the interior of churches and together with decoration enabled the creation of
Principles of Architectural Organization
The various ritual that comprise Christian religious worship played a fundamental part in the
evolution of the Christian place of worship
Design closely mirror rituals of the religion
The initial choice of the Basilica was because of its easy adaptability to a Christian church
Later when practices started changing, the alternative church forms evolved
Ritual practices and function played a more significant influence on church form during the
Early Christian period than during the Byzantine period
Symbolism also played a significant role in the evolution of the form of the Christian church
Spirituality and mysticism were integrated into the experience of church spaces
During Christian architecture, Symbolism in the experience of space become a predominant
issue in design
The use of light and decoration to create fascinating interiors but function still predominated
During the Byzantine period the Church itself became a symbol of the faith
The Church is viewed as a house of god and its design and construction as a reflection of this
The scale of the church was therefore increased and its decoration became more complex
In this respect we see a contrast between an overriding emphasis in Early Christian
architecture on function and rituals, and in Byzantine architecture on symbolism
MEDIEVAL ERA TOWN DESIGN
3 MAJOR EVENTS MARKING TRANSITION
FROM MEDIEVAL TIMES
• Dawn of science
• Fall of Constantinople
• Discovery of the New World