Architectural design between 300-725 C.E.
In 313 the Emperor Constantine successfully introduced Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire and for the first time the young faith was able to exist without the threat of persecution . Almost immediately , Christianity became a public institution and with its new status came a degree of stability and authority . The first major development to evolve from this recognition was a drastic re-evaluation of the scale and impact of religious art . Within a few short years of Constantine ‘s rise to power officially sanctioned churches were being built on the [banner_entry_middle]
sacred sites of Christendom . The Church – Christ ‘s house ‘ – quickly became the sustained focal point for Christian art interests , and thus it is in the area of architecture that one is granted special access to some of the most important qualities of faith .Old St . Peter ‘s Basilica was one of the first architectural expressions of the new faith . Built in Rome , it was designed to house various relics from the Apostle Peter ‘s martyrdom , and was held in particularly high regard as a place of contemplation and pilgrimage by the faithful . The design was simple and austere and it laid the foundations for Church architecture for many centuries . It appears from archeological evidence (the actual structure was destroyed in the Renaissance to make way for the current St . Peter ‘s Basilica ) that the faithful entered the shrine through an enclosed courtyard , which was to the basilica proper . The interior plan was evidently modeled after the secular architecture then popular in Rome , the so-called basilica design and is likely to have been a reflection of the earlier Christian sites of worship , which were generally the home of the faithful . As a result the house of the faithful ‘ or God ‘s house ‘ tended to follow a very particular Roman legacy , mirroring not so much temple architecture as the intimacy of the domestic housing that had been the solace of the early Christian community
To understand the fundamental structure of the basilica plan , it is necessary to consider the union of form and function as each pertains to the complex proper . The basilica was constructed with a long central nave which helped focus attention on the services conducted at the far end of the church . The nave was intersected by the transept , which would later be introduced further down the nave to make a cross form – symbol of crucifixion . Originally , the transept was designed as a means of creating space around the altar so that the congregation could be more centralized . To light the building , windows were placed on a second level which rose above the central portion of the nave . This ingenious device gave worshippers the impression that the natural illumination was a sign of God ‘s grace . The design enabled the natural light to fall from the above rather than raking on the diagonal or horizontal , which inevitably cast strong shadows . The ability of basic elements such as directed light and a cruciform ground plan to… [banner_entry_footer]
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