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Charlemagne’s Basilica

Being one of the most eloquent representatives of Constantinian churches, the Old St. Peter’s Basilica became a deep symbol for early christians. Although the church was a modification of the older imperial basilicas, it’s form was upgraded due to the specific requirements of christian worship. While the entrance was moved from the middle of the basilica to the end, the altar was also relocated — in the the Old St. Peter’s Basilica it was placed at the other end of the church, in the semicircular apse.

The church also had a transept attached to the nave, which made the basilican form resemblant to the form of a cross. Therefore, all the alterations in the form of the basilica not only made it symbolic to early christians, they also served utilitarian needs. As a result, such coexistence of utility and beauty made the Old St. Peter’s Basilica a trend setter, so to speak. It’s form was lately reproduced the other basilicas, such as: Santa Sabina or San Appolinare. Therefore, the deviation from the initial forms of imperial basilicas facilitated the development of christian architecture.

Byzantine Hagia Sophia, Constantinopole To build of the main churches of the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia, its creators brought together two forces: the experience of Roman architects and techniques of local builders. The sumptuous building also offers an impressive interior space. The central nave is covered with the huge dome, built of brick and stone only. The belt of the windows at the base of the dome together with the shining marble and mosaics create an exceptional sense of light flowing from the above.

The appearance of the church from the outside is no less impressive — massive strict walls and domes are supported by buttresses in the form of pylons and towers, which are devoid of any ornaments or decorations. Hagia Sophia is the structural unit, in which the creators managed to modify, enrich and optimize Roman construction methods, by bringing new aesthetics to them. Astoundingly colorful materials and unusual ornamental techniques made Hagia Sophia a model for other great mosques of the Byzantine Empire.

Carolingian Palace Chapel of Charlemagne, Aachen The Aachen Palatine Chapel of Charlemagne is a great sample of architecture of the Carolingian Renaissance era. The chapel is the most famous example of the antique architecture models imitation. Being the part of the Charlemagne’s palace complex, the chapel reconstitutes one of the types of the ancient Roman architectural design — central area in the form of an octagon, surrounded by 16-sided ambulatory with galleries.

Created by Odo of Metz, the palace chapel resembles the Byzantine Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, however it looks heavier and it has more visual logic. The chapel — is the result of Roman architecture revival, thanks to which Roman building traditions were preserved for the future generations. The building was rather multifunctional: it was not only the palace chapel, but also the emperor’s private tomb, as well as the place for his relics collection. Also, the chapel served as a platform, from which Charlemagne appealed to the audience on special occasions.

For these purposed, there was a courtyard build, which adjoined the chapel on the western side. Romanesque Sainte-Foy, Conques Though being a vivid example of roman architecture, the Sainte-Foy Church, built in 1130, has incorporated the newest features of that time architecture. The new plan arrangement, developed at Tours, solved the problem with the big number of pilgrims, coming into the church, disturbing the processing monks. The church consisted of two spatial shells: the choir and the continuous ambulatory passage.

The passage made it possible for the pilgrims to pass completely around the church, accessing all the rare reliquary treasures, that were displayed in apsidal chapels; and the priesthood occupied the choir and celebrated Mass. The stone vaulting in the church, located over all internal spaces provided the Sainte-Foy with a feel of an impressive stateliness. At the same time, the absence of the clerestory windows was a cause of the low level of overall lighting in the church, which was not a nuisance, but rather a distinctive feature of the roman architecture representative.

Gothic Notre-Dame de Amiens, Amiens Pointed arches, broken rib vaulting, flying buttresses on the outer side of the building, and the overall skeletonized form — these are the things that come to mind when one thinks about Gothic architecture. And the most precise representative of the fully developed French Gothic architecture is the Norte-Dame cathedral at Amiens. Inspired by the lightness, it is a drastic deviation from the dark and heavy roman style. All the design elements of the cathedral reach upward, making the walls dissolve in light.

Unlike the preceding cathedrals, the Notre-Dame of Amiens has a bigger choir, and more elaborated entrances to serve the needs of the monks and pilgrims. The cross shaped form of the cathedral resembles the romanesque churches, at the same time demonstrating the complexity and magnificence of Gothic architecture. The Notre-Dame de Amiens cathedral, with it’s little or no modifications of the standardized plan and basic components of Gothic architecture is one of the greatest examples of the vertical line domination.

Although it is an example of Gothic architecture, the Salisbury cathedral is much different from the continental gothic churches. While a vertical line dominates in french gothic buildings, one can notice a horizontal line domination in English architecture of the High Medieval Period. The distinctive features of the Salisbury cathedral, being its lateral extension and the existence of two transepts, makes it the most precise example of English Gothic. The curved chevet, inherent to continental architecture of that period was replaced with a stained-glass window wall illustrating the exemplary English attributes.

The Salisbury cathedral inherited a very strong horizontal aspect from the Cistercian monachal models, in comparison with the decidedly vertical cathedral in Amiens. Unlike the Notre-Dame de Amiens, an example of gothic urban church, the Salisbury cathedral was built in a rural area, where more free space was available. That was a prerequisite for the outstretched from of English Gothic buildings, proving that the environmental determinism concept can also be applicable to architecture.

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