Chora Church Museum
Byzantine church architecture is characterised by soaring domes, cavernous interiors and dazzling mosaics. The style developed in the wake of the Roman Empire and lasted for a thousand years. It flourished throughout the Byzantine Empire leaving a legacy throughout Greece, the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean, Palestine and Armenia. Byzantine church architecture has influenced the design of churches in Eastern Europe. Byzantine church architecture influenced the design of mosques in the Ottoman Empire. Byzantine architecture developed from Roman architecture. Byzantine buildings, including churches, are typically made from small flat bricks, as was the Roman way. In the interior the Byzantines typically faced the brick with marble slabs and rich mosaics. On the exterior, Byzantine churches are often adorned by fanciful brickwork. Watch for chevron designs and patterns made by bricks of different colour.Whereas early Christian churches follow the form of the Roman Basilica with a high central nave and lower side aisles Byzantine church architecture take a different form. Watch for the high central dome. The dome is a major Byzantine innovation. A Byzantine church has a characteristic square plan which is crowned by a circular dome or domes. Annexes often reach out from the central square so that the floor plan takes the shape of a square cross. Architects in the time if Justinian perfected the smooth transition from square walls to circular dome using architectural features known as squinches or pendentives. Chora meets all of the mentioned characteristics.
The building has six domes, two on esonartece, one on paracclésion and three on the naos.
The largest dome in a dimension of 7.7 m diameter and is located in the center of the naos.
The largest dome retains its original splendor, and as a Saint Sofia, the impression one gets from looking the dome is that it’s “floating in the air.” This effect is due to the position of the windows, that illuminating the base of the dome does not allow us to directly recognize the support points.
In Saint Sofia this technique reaches its maximum splendor, albeit with technical architectural and structural much more complex.
One of the elements that personally it is more difficult to understand is the “spur” in front of the window of the exedra.
I have not found other cases like this in other Byzantine churches.
“A recent article includes the Kariye Museum in Istanbul among the top 30 must-see museums in the world.
Patricia Schultz, author of the book, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” Ranks The Kariye Museum in Istanbul alongside such internationally celebrated art museums as The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain; The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia; Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; and The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.”
To make it even more difficult to understand this decision (although clearly responding to a structural need) is the importance of these churches give to the opening. Is from the windows that enters the “divine light”.
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