Byzantine Architecture

Byzantine architecture was a very important aspect of European culture, especially in the eastern half of the continent, during the medieval ages. The key hallmarks of the architecture were found in the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople.

Medieval Constantinople

Medieval Constantinople

Early structures erected in Constantinople showed Roman influences but from the 6th century onwards, Byzantine architecture began to evolve independently.

Some of the most notable examples of Byzantine architecture include the magnificent church of Hagia Sophia, the Great Palace of Constantinople, and the Walls of Constantinople among others.

Notable Elements of Byzantine Architecture

Byzantine architecture had a lot in common with the Roman style of construction. But the Byzantine style also introduced many aspects of its own.

The most notable elements of Byzantine architecture were the basilica and the domes. Both were popularly used in churches and other ecclesiastical buildings constructed in the Byzantine Empire.

Domes, such as the ones built at the church of Hagia Sophia, were built with stylistic innovations allowing for their greater size. The most notable change in the design of church buildings in the Byzantine Empire was the construction of cross-plan churches which comprises a central area for mass and four arms extending on all four sides from this central portion.

Domed Roofs

Domed roofs were popular architectural elements used in Byzantine buildings, especially in the churches built under the Byzantine Empire. To be able to erect vast domes over church buildings, the Byzantine architecture devised unique devices of their own.

These included the use of a squinch which set up each corner of a plain square with an arch, letting it support the dome; or the use of a pendentive.

Notable Byzantine Architecture

Byzantine Emperors had a number of grand buildings constructed during the prime of the Empire in the early medieval era. Some of these buildings exist to this day. Most notable among these is Hagia Sophia which was the jewel crown of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople and today is located in Istanbul.

Constantinople in Medieval Times

Constantinople in Medieval Times

The church is a beautiful example of the Byzantine style of domed roofs. Other examples of Byzantine architecture include the Hagia Irene church, Basilica Cistern, the great walls of Constantinople with 192 towers that helped guard the city over many centuries, and Saint Catherine’s Monastery.

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Influences of the Byzantine Architecture

The Byzantine Empire stretched over vast regions of Asia Minor and the neighboring regions during its golden age. As a result, the architectural style of the Empire came to be reflected in regions stretching from Russia to Arabia to Greece and modern-day Turkey.

Map of the Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Empire

Many of these regions have extant examples of Byzantine architecture. The style informed many subsequent cultures, most notably affecting the development and evolution of the Muslim architecture under the Omayyad and Abbasid caliphates.

Byzantine Architecture Church

The enduring and iconic architecture erected by the Muslims in Moorish Spain during the medieval ages is also cited as inspired by Byzantine architecture. The style continued to flourish in the Orthodox countries for a long time and directly impacted the evolution of architecture there.

Byzantine Medieval Church

San Marco Beautiful Architectural Style Byzantine Medieval building

Learn more about Byzantine Architecture at Wikipedia

Examples of Byzantine Architecture

Byzantine Architecture
Famous Byzantine Architecture
Byzantine Architecture Hosios Loukas monastery Osiosloukas
Famous Byzantine Architecture