of the most important building of the particular styles:
Early Christian, Byzantine, Islamic, Gothic
Each period of history has its own particular, specific art style, which contains its own significant masterpieces. It doesn’t matter what kind of art is it: painting, sculpture, architecture, etc. For example, for the Early Christian Era, such masterpieces are: The Basilica at Trier in architecture and Jesus healing the bleeding woman, depicted in the Catacombs of Rome. Talking about Byzantine period, it is important to mention such works as: the Church of Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia in the architecture and the most famous mosaic of this church in Constantinople – the image of Christ Pantocrator on the walls of the upper southern gallery.
Islamic world has its own masterpieces too, in both – art and architecture. It is The Badshahi Mosque, built between 1671 and 1673 in Lahore, and different decorative and stylistic arts that are creating the face of the Islamic world, for what we know it now. For the Gothic period, it is a miniature “Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux”, by Jean Pucelle in Paris in the 1320s in art and, of course, the most famous, popular and touristy religious catholic building – Notre-Dame Cathedral. As the main topic is concerning the architecture, in this essay few basic aspects of each significant building from different above mentioned time periods and regions will be discovered.
Starting with the Early Christian architecture, it is inappropriate to omit that fact that till the beginning of the fourth century Christianity has become a growing mystery religion in the cities of the Roman world. Its fast spread was caused by its cultural integration. (Smarthistory.Early Christian Art & Architecture after Constantine. (n. d.)) According to this, more and more Christian art works were appearing during that time period. This stream has influenced the architecture as well. The Basilica of Constantine or “Konstantin Basilika” in Trier, in Germany is a great example of it. This building is a remnant of this city’s prominent Ancient Roman history. Originally, The Basilica served as an audience place for Emperor Constantine the Great and it was part of the city’s development, held by the Emperor from 306 AD (Historvius. Basilica of Constantine – Trier.(n.d.)).
Nowadays, it is used as a church, but still, the interior of it closely resembles an ancient basilica. A big amount of windows – is a part of the painted decoration. Although, the roof and part of the wall are not authentic, it still resembles the ancient original. The reconstruction was held in the nineteenth century. It was based on ancient originals like the San Paolo Fuori le Mura in Rome, which was also built by Constantine (Livius.org. Trier: Basilica. (n.d.)). According to this, it is appropriate to suggest that both constructions have their similarities. The ceiling of the Basilica is divided in squares, which also brings the visitor into the ancient times. The Basilica itself is elongated; its shorter wall was built in semi-circle, which also visually lengthens the building.
Generally speaking, the origin of the Roman basilica has been variously traced back to Greek stoas (covered colonnades) and Hellenistic audience halls. The word “basilica” is Greek and it
means “royal” (Rome Alive: A Source Guide to the Ancient City, vol. 1, Bolchazy-Carducci: 2004). Nevertheless, the form came into its own in Roman towns, where it became the main center of business, as well as the venue for certain types of trials, such as the one, which is described by Pliny (Rome Alive: A Source Guide to the Ancient City, vol. 1, Bolchazy –Carducci: 2004).
Even if looking from the exterior the Basilica seems to be unfinished, it doesn’t need any additional works. The church itself is considered to be the building from the past and it should be standing out on the general city’s background. The Basilica et Trier was built as part of a palace complex in Trier which served as his northern capital. Although, as it was mentioned above, a fairly simple architectural form and now stripped of its original interior decoration, the basilica must have been an imposing stage for the emperor (Dr. Allen Farber. Early Christian art and architecture after Constantine. (n.d.)). It is one of the best representations of the Europe’s past.
The Byzantine style itself, has its own remarkable buildings as well. One of such is The Church of Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia, may be taken as a great example of it. Its real name is the Divine Wisdom and it was built for the Emperor Justinian in the 537AD after the riots. Its scale of the building exceeded any domed building, which was built before this church and it tested the abilities of the Emperor's architects, though, its process emptied the state treasury. (Hagia Sophia: The Deesis Mosaic. About Hagia Sophia the Church of Holy Wisdom.(n.d.)). The names of the Sophia’s architects are Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus. Nowadays, it is a component of a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is called the Historic Areas of Istanbul (designated 1985) (Encyclopædia Britannica. Hagia Sophia. (11-4-2014)).
Talking about its structure, it is important to mention that the building’s construction that is standing nowadays is the original one from the 6th century. It combines the lengthwise basilica and a centralized building in its wholly original way. The church’s dome is supported on pendentives and two semi domes. If to look on the plan of the building, it is clear to notice that its shape is almost square (Encyclopædia Britannica. Hagia Sophia. (11-4-2014)).
The Church of Holy Wisdom has survived after few earthquakes that partly destroyed the church, but still, it rebuilding again and again. After the Turkish invasion in the 1453, the Hagia Sophia has become a mosque. In the 1934 the mosque was secularized by the Kemal Atatürk and the next year, in the 1935, it has become a museum. Because of the windows that are piercing the walls above the galleries and the base of the dome, in the daylight it seems like the canopy is floating on the air (Encyclopædia Britannica. Hagia Sophia. (11-4-2014)).
The Hagia Sophia combines two cultures- Byzantine and Ottoman. It is a perfect example of how not only two religions, but also, two cultures can be mixed together by one monument, one beautiful building. Even nowadays, Hagia Sophia is attracting tourists from all over the world. This Christian church in the past and later the mosque has become a museum, as it was above said, and shares its history, combined with the beauty, uniqueness and power to the modern world. (Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia. (n.d.)). According to this, not only aesthetic, but also cultural value is noticeable. This building is unique for its background, construction, and building plan, for the mosque’s appealing and the interior. This great monument is a significant architectural work of its period of time.
As it was above said, the Islamic world has its own masterpieces too, and the architecture is not exclusion. Such example of it may be, of course, the Badshahi Mosque from Lahore, Pakistan. It has another name – the “Emperor's Mosque" and it was completed in 1673 by the
Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The process of the construction of the mosque took about two years – from May 1671 to April 1673. Being the largest mosque in the world for a long time, it is bold, vast and majestic in its expression (Sacred Destinations. Badshahi Mosque, Lahore. (n.d.)). According to the Badshahi Mosque’s plan, the shape of the mosque is – square.
Within the courtyard, the prayer hall features four minarets that echo in minature the four minarets at each corner of the mosque's perimeter. For the flooding prevention, The Hazuri Bagh, the future garden, appears to be at a lower level than the mosque since the latter was built on a six meter plinth. The Badshahi mosque is one of the most significant architectural monuments, which were built during Emperor Aurangzeb's long rule from the 1658 to the 1707.(Historical Architecture of Asia.Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan.(n.d.)).
No wonder that it is the most famous Pakistan’s mosque. It hosts more than 100,000 prayers at one time. Together with its architecture, the exterior of the mosque is considered to be the best representation of the Islamic culture and religion as well (Umar Farouq. Badshahi Mosque: The Jewel of Lahore. (4 Sep, 2013)). Its internal and external features are significant. The interior of the mosque has rich embellishment in stucco tracery and panelling with a fresco touch. All of it is in bold relief, as well as marble inlay (Umar Farouq. Badshahi Mosque: The Jewel of Lahore. (4 Sep, 2013)). Indeed, it is a greatbuilding. The view on the the grand red-bricked Badshahi Mosque on entering the historical city of Lahore, which links Pakistan’s northern and southern regions, is breathtaking.
Geographically and chronologically moving, it is appropriate now to talk about the Gothic style. This style has appeared in Europe in the 12th century and lasted till the 16th century. The general superiority of French Gothic work was fully shown through its decorative details. Especially it was fully done through the figure sculpture, which in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries attained true nobility of expression, combined with great truthfulness and delicacy of execution (A History of Architecture. Gothic Architecture in France: Towers and Spires. (n. d.)).
Some of its finest productions may be found in the great doorway jambs of the west portals of the cathedrals, and in the ranks of throned and adoring angels which adorned their deep arches (History of Architecture. Gothic Architecture in France: Towers and Spires. (n. d.)). Within this style it is unacceptable not to point out on one of the most remarkable buildings of that time – it is, of course, Notre Dame Cathedral or Notre Dame de Paris. According to the tradition, the Notre-Dame’s first stone was laid in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III.
The first anonymous builder started his work with a double side aisle plan without a salient transept, a four story construction with tribunes, large, 32.5 meters sexpartite arches, predominantly horizontal lines, original architectural work in the curved part of the deambulatory, alternating “strong” and “weak” pillars between the first and second aisles (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. Building history.(n.d.)).It is interesting to note that this church has rich background, its own specific prehistory. First, on this place the Celts had their sacred ground. Later, the Romans built a temple to worship Jupiter.
It is also important to mention that a specifically Christian basilica was built in the sixth century and the last religious structure before the Notre-Dame construction started was a Romanesque church (A view on cities. Notre Dame Cathedral – Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. (n.d)). The Cathedral was to be built in the new Gothic style and its main purpose was to reflect Paris's status as the capital of the Kingdom France.
Another specific feature of the Notre-Dame de Paris is that it was built on the monumental scale – the first one among the cathedrals and because of it, the Cathedral has become the prototype for future cathedrals in France. The church itself is an overwhelming building, 128 meters long (420 ft) with two 69 meter tall towers (226 ft) and its spire over the crossing, which was added to it in the nineteenth century, is reaching 90 meters (A view on cities. Notre Dame Cathedral – Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. (n.d)).
Talking about the Cathedral, it is important to mention about its three wide portals on the frontal west façade:the Portal of the Virgin, the Portal of the Last Judgement and the Portal of Saint Anne. The Portal of the Virgin is on the left side of the façade. This portal embodies the prophets who announced Mary her glorious destiny and the kings from whom she descended. This portal shows the faith and hope of those who are baptized. (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The Façade and the Portals.(n.d.)).
The Portal of the Last Judgement is located in the center of the façade. It represents Jesus, who is welcoming us while Mary and Saint John pray for men. Below it, there is a depiction of the Resurrection. The middle portion of it shows the visitor the weighing of the souls, where the chosen people are taken to heaven by angels, and those, who did not choose to love God and their fellow man, are taken to hell by demons. On each side of it, the largest statues are representing the twelve apostles framing Christ. He stands between the two doors on a central pillar, which is called the trumeau (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The Façade and the Portals.(n.d.)).
The third front portal - The Portal of Saint Anne is on the right side of the façade. The purpose of the portal’s building was to honor the mother of Mary, Saint Anne. The sculptures depict episodes from the life of the Virgin, such as: the annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, and, of course, are representing Jesus’ grandparents, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim(Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The Façade and the Portals.(n.d.)).
The Cathedral also has two more portals: The Saint Stephen Portal and The Cloister Portal. The Saint Stephen Portal was built by the King of France – Saint Louis, on the south side of the cathedral as homage to Saint Stephen, who was stoned for preaching the Gospel. It represents scenes from life of Saint Stephen. Jesus is also embodied on the portal – he is present at the top of the scene, blessing Saint Stephen and welcoming him to Heaven (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The Façade and the Portals.(n.d.)).
The Cloister Portal was built on the north side, around 1250, by an architect called Jean de Chelles. It also has a 13-meter’s window above it. This portal shows Mary’s role in Jesus’ childhood. The purpose of it was to show the humanity of the manger scene and other following scenes from the Jesus’s childhood (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The Façade and the Portals.(n.d.)).
This portal also consists of the sculpture of the legend of Théophile, which took place on the cathedral’s parvis in the Middle Ages. Théophile was a deacon, who sold his soul to the devil to take the place of his bishop. childhood (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The Façade and the Portals.(n.d.)) But, with the forgiveness of Mary he was saved and he gained his freedom.
Talking about the Gothic style, it is important to mention such recognizable feature in the gothic architecture as spires. Usually, Gothic cathedrals are characterized and best known for their large towers and spires. In this case, Notre Dame de Paris is not exclusion. The first spire was built at the transept crossing around 1250. Originally, it was a bell tower, which, in the 17th
century, housed up to five bells. Later, it was taken down from 1786 to 1792 (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The spire. (n. d.)).
During Viollet-le-Duc’s restoration of the Notre Dame de Paris, he decided to build a second spire, whose structure would be independent from the main cathedral, on an octagonal base supported by the four transept pillars (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The spire. (n. d.)).
In 1860, he entrusted the carpenter Bellu with this work. He used the 1852 two-story spire from Orléans as a model. It is a clear departure from the 13th century spire. In addition to it, it is important to mention that it is not a bell tower (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The spire. (n. d.)).
The spire dominates the verdigris copper statues of the twelve apostles with the symbols of the four evangelists. Viollet-le-Duc represented himself as Saint Thomas holding a square. He seems to be contemplating the top of his “Great Work”. A few impressive figures: 500 tons of wood, 250 tons of lead, 93 m in height (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The spire. (n. d.)).
Eventually, the rooster was set at the top of the spire, holding three relics: part of the Crown of Thorns, one of Saint Denis’s relics and one of Sainte Genevieve’s relics. It is a true “spiritual lightning rod,” protecting everyone who praises God inside the cathedral. It is the icon of heavenly Jerusalem (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The spire. (n. d.)). Cardinal Verdier, archbishop of Paris, has placed them there in the presence of the canon chapter on 25 October 1935 (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The spire. (n. d.)).
The cathedral was damaged; it had desecration during the radical phase of the French Revolution in the 1790s. During that time much of the Cathedral’s religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. But, during the 19th century, there was completed an extensive restoration project. After it, there was a returning the cathedral to its previous appealing.
The twentieth century seemed intent on compensating the Cathedral for the neglect and abuse of earlier times. In 1909 the cathedral hosted the beatification of Joan of Arc, an event which moved spirit of the nation itself. Since Paris has become the artistic center of Europe, the Notre Dame cathedral has become the heart of Paris.
Slightly damaged by shelling in 1914, the cathedral survived in both World wars virtually intact. Talking about its modern history, there was an extensive program of maintenance being
undertaken, expected to reach the completion in 2001. Under the managed care of the National Trust for Historic Monuments, it was assured that the Grand Lady of Paris or The Notre dame Cathedral, shall safely bear her legacies into the centuries of the new millennium (Earthlore Explorations. Notre Dame de Paris. Constructed 1163 – 1285. (n.d.)). The Cathedral – is a remarkable example of the Gothic style not only in architecture, but also in general.
Notre-Dame de Paris’s structure is considered to be one of the oldest in Paris. Together with Saint-Pierre de Montmartre (1147), the principal remains of the great Dames de Montmartre abbey founded by Queen Adelaide of Savoy and parts of Saint-Germain des Prés (1160-1170). She was married to King Louis VI the Fat (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. Framework. (n. d.)).
The nave structure of the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris was built between 1220 and 1240. The work in the nave began in 1182. Right after the time, when the choir was dedicated (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. Framework. (n. d.)).
It may have begun in 1175, before the dedication. Work stopped after the time, when the fourth bay was built, leaving the nave unfinished, but façade construction started in 1208. Nave construction would start again in 1218, to strut the façade (Cathѐdrale Notre Dame de Paris. Framework. (n. d.)).
As a conclusion, it is important to mention that all represented buildings are tightly connected with the religion – whether it is Christianity or Islam. It may be followed by their significant features. Those features that are making buildings be recognizable among other styles.
For example, in Gothic style every single detail is seems to be reaching the sky. Even the portals have slightly sharp tops. Another it’s significant feature – is the spire. It is tall and sharp as well. It strictly must have the highest point of all Cathedrals or other building of this particular style.
Talking about mosques, for example, here their own specific significant features will be their square shapes, first of all. Second of all, domes –usually three. And, of course, third of all, towers – spires, supporting the architectural work.
Mosques must have a huge territory. It is all because they were built with that purpose that they must host worshipers. Usually, their number is huge. As it was said above, the biggest Pakistan’s mosque hosts 100,000 prayers and it is quite important for such type of the building.
According to this, an evident sign comes out, which is uniting all of these architectural works. It is their religious purpose. These buildings were constructed to serve as a sacred place. It happens, because it is well known that religion was playing a huge role in the mankind’s life and was a significant part of their existing.
All of them are considered to be world’s best architectures, constructed and designed in their specific styles. No wonder that even nowadays these buildings are attracting people from all over the world. They specific role in the history of the mankind is making them touristy places. Each of them is unique and is attracting people from all over the world.
It is not only about those, who are coming there to pray, but also simple tourists. This makes these religious buildings even more famous day-to-day. The specific style is opening the background of a particular building to the viewer.
Together with this it brings up new sources for the further investigations and scientific works. They are attractive not only in specific religious way, but from different sides. Even if their styles are absolutely or slightly different – their purposes are still similar.
First of all it is to serve as sacred places. Second of all it is to be an attraction, a “pearl” of the land, where these buildings are located. Third of all it is to remind people about their history not only through facts and dates, but also, through artificial and architectural specific features. These make these buildings to be even more specific in their own way and representative in their particular artificial and architectural style, according to the time, the period of history.
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