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Elements of Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture

Updated on June 30, 2012


Early Christian's were not very interested in architecture. They believed they would die and go to heaven and that it would not matter what surrounded them. Once the Roman emperor Constantine founded the "New Rome" and became a Christian, they became the leaders in architecture. It was a drastic change. The architecture became more sensuous and more ambitious than before. The Byzantine style withheld astounding domes and richer mosaics.

Multiple Domes

Domes became very popular. On the rooftop of St. Mark's in Venice, there is a dome over each arm of the plan, as well as in the center. They are gorgeous when viewed, both by the interior and exterior.

Tall and Round Arches

The round arch is seen in much of the Byzantine style. It gives the view a sense of higher greatness around them. Round-topped arches are a combination of contemporary Islamic and Christian design.

Masaic-Filled Apses

Mosaics of this time were much different than before. They were even gold to achieve magnificent appeal yet were graphically simple. The power in the art brought light, warmth, and mystery into the churches. Many mosaics were images of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus or other holy individuals.

Decorated Dome Ceilings

As the Byzantine style had many domes, they had to provide decorations for these domes from the interior. Domes initially create open space which cause more light and the appeal of grace.

Onion Domes

The onion dome is characteristic of the Russian Byzantine design. Some of them are uniquely colorful. Yet the strange design is a truly surprising sight for anyone to witness. The design carried into the Baroque time as well.


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