Byzantine Architecture is a name for the style of architecture introduced at Byzantium in the 5th century, derived from the Roman, but distinguished from it by the plans of the buildings, and by the general use of the dome or cupola. The plan of the Grecian or Byzantine churches was usually that of the Greek cross, with a large cupola rising from the centre, and smaller cupolas crowning the four arms. The arches were generally semicircular, sometimes segmental, or of the horse-shoe form. The capitals of columns were little more than square blocks, tapered downwards, and adorned with foliage or basket work. The doorways were commonly square-headed, with a semicircular, and occasionally, in later specimens, a pointed arch over the flat lintel. The Byzantine style had great influence on 'subsequent styles, both in England and on the Continent. The Gothic styles are derived quite as much from this as from the Roman.
This style prevailed through Christian Asia and Africa.' and extended to Sicily.
It was the modification of Roman architecture by an Eastern element. There were four periods of the art:
(i) 330-537 rock churches, and round or octagonal churches;
(ii) 537-1003-marked by the multiplication of domes and polygonal apses;
(iii) 1003-1453-when the narthex became less prominent, and choirs were made more important; frescos were replaced by mosaics; the women's galleries, hitherto erected over the aisles and narthex, disappeared; and the cruciform shape lost its significance by the absorption of the aisles;
(iv) 1453 to the present time.
The arrangement was originally an external square, containing a circular building within; but there are several modifications:
(1) the round church; (2) the basilica, with apsidal ends to the transept; and (3) the cross of four equal arms, with a dome over the crossing and each arm.
The style penetrated to Provencen through commercial relations between Marseilles, Greece, and Constantinople, and thence to the north and centre of France; and also to the banks of the Rhine, under the patronage of Charlemagne. The dome took the place of the Western vault, as most suited to a circular building; and, to Procopius,-poetically seemed to be suspended by a golden chain from heaven, and the whole style combined the basilica with the round church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Like the basilica, the Eastern church had its colonnaded atrium, or forecourt (peribolos), the narthex (propyla, pronaos), or advanced portico; galleries for women over the aisles of the nave or trapeza; the chorus cantorum, known as the solea-the presbytery was in it; the holy bema, a raised stage, so called from its steps, or hierateion, or hagion; and the sacristies (pastophoria) here called the paratrapezon, or prothesis, on the north, and the skeuophylakium, or diaconicum minus, on the south. Over the bema of the readers, which resembled the basilica ambon, rose the royal door. There was only a single altar, but 'in some cases parecclesiae, or side churches for daily services, with altars, were added; the chancel screen was called, from its pictures, the iconostasis, with its central door curtained, and two lateral doors: the kiklis occupied the place of the podium; over the altar rose the dome, or trullus. There were four doors: the holy, which were veiled, between the bema and soleal;. the royal, between the solea and nave; the angelic, between the nave and narthex; and the beautiful, great, or silver, between the narthex and anterior porch (prothyrum). The influence of the style is seen in, the cupolas of Russia; those of France, introduced by Venetian colonists and commerce; the ornamentationa of capitals, the polygonal apses, and round churches of Western Christendom.
A stream of Italian art came to the south and south-west of France, and thence moved northward in course of gradual development, and also spread down the Rhine, diverging right and left, influencing the border provinces of Framice-the two developments meeting in the Ile de France, as they had previously been combined at Torcell. The Byzantine modification of the basilica in Italy received a new form in Rhinelanid and again in France; and the turret-like treatment of steeples, the huge triforium, and low central lantern, became common features.