2. Architectural Character
• Saint Mark-Venice
• Sanit. Sophia, Constantinople
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.
• Geographical Influence
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
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.
2. Architectural Character
It represents fusion of oriental and roman
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 enclosed space.
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 Nartex 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
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 ecclesiastical structure.
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 western empire.
In Eastern Christianity the dome became the
dominant factor in church design. (e.g. single dome
at St. Sophia Constantinople (built 532-537 AD) or
a central dome encircled by other domes as at St.
Marks, Venice or a row of domes at Angouleme.
The primitive Eastern dome seems to have been
on a very small scale to have used for subordinate
It has a spacious nave covered by lofty cultural
dome carried on pendentive.
A succession of smaller domes carries interior of
size 102ft x 265ft and built up to a main dome
of size 102’ in dia and 184’ in height
A dome carries a corona of 40 arched windows
shedding light in interior. At east end of nave, is
vaulted sanctuary apse and at west end a great
narthex which opens into a atrium.
On the north and south sides, side aisles
carrying massive vaults supported on green and
white marble columns.
The interior surfaces are cladded with
polycomarbles and gold mosaic. Encrusted upon
the brick core of structure.