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