Late post: From Early Christian Italy to Byzantium

The Advent of Constantine: The First Christian Emperor

Rome acquired some of its most magnificient buildings in terms of scale, technique and decoration; including the largest and the facinating thermal complexes, the Bath of Caracalla and the Bath of Diocletian.

The castle of Diocletian was organised like a military castrum on a cross axis inside a nearly perfect square set of walls. His castle had three enterences and octoganel guard towers. There was two streets which intersected and divided the castle to four equal peaces. They were linead with colonnades, which instead of an entablature carried a series of arches, one of Diocletian’s many break from classical tradition. His architects created fastigium a stage like space for the imperial appearances. This motif was taken from Hellenistic style of Southern Asia. There was a small rectanguşa temple and an octoganel mausoleum next to the castle. Very intresting I found about this castle is that from the sea, the facade was presenting a continuous acheded gallery between the corner tower.

The son of Constantine erected the new city walls as his father did. He also erected one of the  largest baths in Rome and adjacent  to the stadium an imperial palace with a formidable basillica. It was built entirely with brick and the roof was wooden, it presented an axial rectangular hall. The side walls rose on tall arches. Hypocausts under the pavement heated the basillica like a thermal bath.


Constantine’s Basillica

Rome after Constantine: The Last Classical Buildings

After Constantine, the power of the Church gradualy declained. However, churches were the only instutation left. After Constantine, we can see the last traces of classical traditioned Christian basillicas of Roman Architecture. Rome went under a great recovery under the papal leadership. They sponsored several churches including the Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Stefano Rotondo.

Santa Maria Maggiore was completed with flawless Ionic capitals supporting well proportioned flat entablatures. Santa Stefano Rotondo never had a completed central dome. To help to support the pitched roof over the cylindrical core, they improvised an incongruous arcaded plane that sliced the central space n half. While Rome was struggling with floods, plagues and such more problems, the popes transformed monuments of the city into shelters.


After Constantine transfered his capital to Byzantium, he started producing his first city which commanly included Chrstian churches as a primary urban component. There were also projects were the dome was covering the tomb. The central city plan became an alternative to the longitidunal basillica for the church design.

Constantinople: The First Christian Capital

He both installed the Christianity as the principal religion of the Roman Empire and imposed the major types of its principal cult buildings. He kept sponsoring new churches, palaces and capitals where ever he went. His new capitals established three models of churches: the aisled basillica, the central plan memorial churchs and the pavilion like baptistery. His greates work was building the city Constaninople. He put his palace, hippodrome, platine church, triumphal plazas and mausoleum. Santate House and Chalke was placed right next to the Augusteon Forum. The imperail enclave had a formal dining halls, basilica meetings chambers, and domestic courtyards. The palace looked over a stadium, the Hippodrome. The Hippodrome was long U-shaped.

His churches had nodal points on the new city. The palace church of Hagia Sophia directly adjacting to the palace complex. The Apostoleion was an inspration of the basilica of St. Mark. It had Greek cross plan with arms of equal length in all directions. Its five dome formed a quincunx scheme. It had baths, dining halls, guard houses and fountains. The change from collaneded spaces of imperial Rome to oriented church halls of Christians took root in Constantine’s reign. Another difference from Roman churches was the use of upper gallery in the naves for the matroneum reserved for women.


Hagia Sophia Church

Ravenna: The Byzantne Satellite in Italy

Ravenna was a small safe city away from Rome and Milan. There were lots of churches, baptistieries and mausoleums built in the city. Ravenna was a Roman castrum town plotted on a grid.The canals were used to set the boundaries of the city. The female patron Galla Placiadia was the first to be. She traveled alot and did lots of marriages. Rigth after she came back from Constantinople, she built the large three aisle Basillica of St. John. She also built the church of Santa Croce. Galla Placiadia also sponsored Ravenna’s new cathedral and baptistery.


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