We continue learning about history of architecture of various nations and Countries, and creations of great architects from both past and present. In this article we will take a look at Byzantine architecture and its distinct features.

Learn more about archaic and classic architecture and their main differences here.

Byzantine style in architecture

The capital of Roman Empire had been moved to Byzantium (future Constantinople) by a Roman emperor Constantine The Great in 330 AD and became known as Nova Roma (New Rome).

Byzantine was developing as a separate cultural and artistic unit. And you could find a strong influence of ancient Roman style and artistic culture of the East in its architecture.

Foremen solved a whole slew of technical and constructional problems

The walls were built from bricks applied to thick layers of calcareous solution mixed with crushed bricks.

Byzantine architecture

They ignored the concrete since natural concrete could only be gathered in Italy and Byzantine lacked cheap slave forces to mix artificial solutions.

They began building domes above the middle part of their temples

By that point domes existed for a few centuries but Romans, Syrians and the rest always placed them on top of circular foundations that didn’t look graceful and took a lot of space.

Byzantine architectureByzantine architecture text

Byzantine temples featured a gallery with columns and arches surrounding the area under the dome. And columns lost their important role now being only an addition to the main décor of the temple.

Byzantine architecture temple

Another characteristic feature of Byzantine style in architecture is arched windows (tall vertical arch filled with a colorful glass mosaic).

Almost every ancient cathedral was adorned by heavy rugged doors made of bronze and decorated with overlays.


Interior became the core part of artistic development

While on the outside the temple walls were decorated only with arched windows the inside interior was embellished with expensive cladding that included marble columns & incrustations, mosaic under the vault & on the floors, and sometimes even golden caisson ceilings.

Hagia Sophia in Constantinople Hagia Sophia in Constantinople 1


The most well-known and impressive example of early Byzantine architecture is Hagia Sophia in Constantinople that was conceived as an ideological centre of a huge empire. It was supposed to overshadow The Pantheon of Rome with its greatness.

Byzantine architecture also reached great heights in bridge building, roads, aqueducts, water & other solution reservoirs.

It had a great influence on formation of Romanesque & Gothic architecture and spread across the entire Christian East. In some places, especially in Russia it remained popular even after the fall of Constantinople (1453 AD)

Byzantine architecture in Russia

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