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Art Appreciation - Essay Example

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The basic design of the basilica conformed to the architecture of a Roman Basilica - a longitudinal hall, which includes "an atrium; a narthex or porch; a long nave flanked by side aisles; a transept hall crossing the nave; and a semicircular or polygonal apse opposite the nave." ("EARLY CHRISTIAN ART AND ARCHITECTURE," 2007) The Old St…
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Download file to see previous pages It had a gabled roof, which was over 100 feet at the centre. The atrium of Old St. Peter's Basilica was known as the "Garden of Paradise." It had five doors leading inside the church. The atrium was added in the 6th Century. ("Old Saint Peter's Basilica," Wikipedia 2007) The nave ended with an arch holding a mosaic of Constantine and Saint Peter. The walls had 11 windows and were decorated with frescoes.
The Basilica contained the tomb of St. Peter in the apse of the church. The most significant architectural element was the 'transept,' which marked the cross axis to the nave. "The cross axes of the nave and transept allowed for the concentration of attention on the tomb of Peter." ("The Romanization of Christianity," 2007)
The Hagia Sophia, built as the new cathedral of Constantinople by Emperor Justinian in 532 to 537 A.D., is supposed to realise the "ideal" Byzantine model. ("Hagia Sophia," Great Buildings Online 2007) "It combined a longitudinal basilica and a centralised building, with a huge main dome supported on pendentives, and semi domes on either side." ("Hagia Sophia," 2003) This was the first instance of the use of pendentives, which "enable the round dome to transition gracefully into the square shape of piers below." ("Hagia Sophia," Wikipedia 2007)
The building itself measures 102 feet by 265 feet along its main floor. The central space is a 100 feet square, which is extended to 200 feet by adding two "hemicycles" covered by semi domed "exedras" to the east and west of it. These are extended further with three minor apses eastward and two to the west. The main dome is 102 feet in diameter, and 184 feet high. It contains a corona of 40 arched windows, which reflects light into the interior of the nave. "Flanking the nave on the north and south are side aisles, with galleries over them." ("Hagia Sophia," 2003) Their massive vaults are carried at both levels by monolithic columns, thus receiving the weight of the dome and its arches.
The Dome of the Rock
This is the earliest architectural monument of Islam. It was constructed to cover the Noble Rock, in 691-2 A.D. in the old city of Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock is octagonal shaped. It consists of a Dome which is 20m 20cm in diameter and its height is 20m 48cm. The dome rises to a height of 35 meters over the Noble Rock. The Noble Rock is surrounded by inner circular and outer octagonal arcades. Each side of the octagon has a door and 7 windows. ("Dome of the Rock," Islamic Architecture Org 2007)
Common Structural Elements
The Old St. Peters Basilica and The Dome of the Rock are, both, built in the shape of a Byzantine "Martyria." A martyrium is used for the housing and veneration of saintly relics. ("Byzantine Architecture," Wikipedia 2007) In the former case, it is the tomb of St. Peter, and in the latter the Noble Rock, venerated by Christian, Jews, and Muslims alike. The church of Hagia Sophia and the Old St. Peters Basilica, both follow the basic Roman architectural design of a longitudinal basilica. But, a central or circular type of structure is also found in the Hagia Sophia, and it is very similar to the domed circular structure of the Dome of the Rock. The windows on the main dome of the Dome of t ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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