Constantine produced the first Roman city plan to include Christian churches as primary urban components. The emperor also sponsored projects in Jerusalem, including a dome to cover the tomb of hrist. Its central plan form, the common type for imperial mausoleums, became an alternative to the longitudinal basilica for church design. The domes of subsequent Byzantine churches rose as prominent sybols of Christianity.

Constantinople: The First Christian Capital

  • Constantine bothe installed Christianity as the principal religion of the Roman Empire and imposed the major types for its principal cult buildings.
  • Three major church types still in use: the aisled basilica, the central plan memorial church and the pavillion like baptistery.
  • Constantine’s greatest work, the foundation of Nova Roma , New Rome soon took on his name as Constantinople as extension to the ancient Greco Roman city of Byzantium.
  • The Mese, a grand colonnaded central boulevard dominated the urban structure of the peninsula. Every half kilometer or so the thoroughfare opened to a shaped public plaza. In the midst of the Mese’s final stretch, the curved Forum of Constantine focused on a colossal column.
  • The urban sequence culminated at the Milion, the original milestone marker, and the Augusteon Forum, lied with colonnades on all sides.
  • The zoning laws of the next century prohibited buildings more thn 30 m hgh, indicating that multistoried insulae continued to be built in new Rome wth all the attendant problems of fire safety, sanitation and crowding. Because the city’s fabric included primarily timber buildingd, it suffered constant conflagrations leaving few buildings from this period.
  • the change in architectural attitudes from the extroverted colonnaded spaces of imperial Rome to the mysterious inwardly oriented church halls of the early Christians too root during Constantine’s reign.
Church of Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
  • Among the most visible projects stood the original churh of Haga Sopha begun by Constantine in 326 as an adjunct to his palatine complex. The plan clearly followed the examples of the Lateran and Old St. Peter’s: a five aisled basilica entered through a short atrium. Its rounded apse pointed east, setting the standard for later churches. Another difference from the Roman churches was the use of upper galleries in the nave for the matroneum reserved for women, in the tradition of Jewish synagogues.
  • Constantine’s Haga Sophia shared much with the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, designed during the same years by the same team of designers.
  • Church of Holy Sepulchre repeated the five aisle basilica plan, adding a second story galleries over the central nave. The rounded apse contained an underground crypt. Behind the apse, a peristyle court served as a transitional space between the basilica and a domed martyrium known as the Anastasis.


Haga Sophia after Constantine

  • the rebuilt of church contained a minimum of flammable materials in its construction, with arches, vaults, and a dome made of stone, bricks and lime.
  • A shallow drum pierced with forty clerestory windows supported it so that it seemed to float. These windows opened at the points where cracking could be witnessed in solid domes such as the Pantheıb in Rome.
  • Hagia Sophia’s  complex succession of concave hollows, suspended above the nave with no apparent mass for their support.
Hagia Sophia, built by Justinian
  • but unlike Roman engineering, where the relation of vault thrust to wall mass was clearly visible, the structure of Hagia Sophia seemed less clear, its vaults appearing to levitate.
  • While the space of he nave of Hagia Sophia appeared unştary, its details showed great discrepancies. The number and scale of th columns from one level to the next did not correspond.
  • like most early churches, Hagia Sophia had no real façade.
  • Unlike a Mesopotamian ziggurat or a Greek temple, for which the combination of architectural parts led to a coherent whole, Hagia Sophia’ profile cannot be reduced to a simple figure made of proportional elements.
  • Hagia Sophia’s central dome collapsed 2o years after completion, rather than abandoning the design, Justinian had it rebuilt, raising the dome highrt on ribs and thicknening the buttress.