Course Content (Syllabus)
The course offers a thorough introduction into the architectural production of the Byzantine Empire. Lectures are organized chronologically and present the development of settlements and the creation of religious and secular buildings and complexes. The focus is on the methodologies used to extract historic information from examining architectural production while discussing the relevant issues from recent bibliography. The analysis pertains to buildings and complexes as instances to discuss architectural creation and the interpretation the social forces that shape it. The course is enriched with the presentation of texts from the period that testify to the perception of architectural production in the time of its creation. Moreover, several visits to existing byzantine monuments all over Thessaloniki are planned. If the conditions permit an excursion is organized to visit several monuments in central Greece (Virgin at Skripou, Hosios Loukas Monastery, Hosios Meletios Monastery etc.)
Εβδομάδα 2η The Fifth century – Imperium and Christianity II
Constantinople as Capital. Mapping Christianity in New Rome. Similarities and differences in architectural creation between East and West. Transformations of public space. Creation of pilgrimage sites. Martyria. The “holy fever” of finding sacred relics and the buildings that housed them. Church building donations as imperial ideology and policy. Developments in sacred architecture and ecclesiastic controversies. The churches. Basilicas and circular buildings. Archaeological record and problems of explaining and interpreting findings.
Εβδομάδα 3η Zenith – Saint Sophia – Justinian I
The historic context of Justinian’s reign and its connection to architectural production of the period. The conditions for the formation of architectural creation at the start of the 6th c. Churches and dome construction. Basilicas, circular buildings, combinations and explaining choices between. Saint Sophia as a symbol. The building’s history and its phases before Justinian. (re)Construction of Saint-Sophia. Its place among world architectural heritage. The many faces of Saint Sophia. The building’s history and its role in Byzantine history. The aftermath of Saint Sophia in the shaping of Byzantine architecture. Its effect to other cultures.
Εβδομάδα 4η Zenith – Saint Sophia – Justinian II
Architectural creation beyond Saint-Sophia. Justinian’s role as patron of architecture. Propaganda and church building. Procopius’ De Aedificiis. Main trends of church architecture. Secular buildings and structures. Differences East-West. The development and establishment of domed typologies. Innovation and conservatism.
Εβδομάδα 5η Age of transition = Transitional architecture?
Architectural theories and evolutionary theory. Recent overviews on Byzantine architecture and problems of methodology. From late antiquity to the middle ages. Historical assessment of the period and its connection to the evaluation of architecture. Progress, decline, recovery and the lack of securely dated material. “Dark ages” and their architecture. The cross domed church. The transformation of cities. “From the city of late antiquity to the Byzantine castrum”. Assumptions and realities.
Εβδομάδα 6η ‘Renaissance’ and ‘Classicism’ in the Macedonian era
The historic context of the Macedonian “Renaissance” and the meaning of “classical” in the study of Byzantine culture. Forming building typologies and construction methods. Defining types and classification of buildings in the study of Byzantine architecture. The inscribed-cross –domed church type and its place in recent scholarship. Theories of its origin and dissemination. Variations and simplifications of the prototype. The relation between architecture and painting. The so-called Athonite type. Theories of its origin. The cross octagon. The church complex of Hosios Loukas. Theories of its origin. Assessing the period’s production.
Εβδομάδα 7η Prime and Fall in the Comnenian era – Byzantium’s radiance
The Comnenian era as a turning point in Byzantine civilization. Its effect in architectural creation. Transformation of institutions. The effect in the practice of founding ecclesiastic foundations as political action. Centre and periphery. Vanguard and provincialism. Validating the theory for the preeminence of the inscribed-cross-domed church type. Byzantium’s influence in the architectural production of neighboring countries. Western Europe, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria. The influence of Byzantine architecture in the buildings of the Islamic world.
Εβδομάδα 8η After the 4th Crusade – Trebizond, Nicaea, Arta
Architectural creation in the various centers of the fragmented Byzantine dominion. Latin building activities and its influence in local practices. Hybridity as categorical classification in the study of historical architecture. The creation of new urban centres (capitals) in Byzantium’s periphery. Trebizond, Nicaea, Arta. Defining urban space and imperial identity. Echoes of Constantinople. Influences, regionalism, experimentations. New building typologies and new ways of spatial composition.
Εβδομάδα 9η Final gleaming – Palaiologan Era – Constantinople and its environs
Restoration of state, reconstruction of Constantinople and rehabilitation of older structures. Renovation as restitution of historic continuity. Churches, monasteries and houses. Investing in old buildings by creating new. Increased complexities and refinement. Historic buildings and new constructions. Architecture of the period in Constantinople’s hinterland.
Εβδομάδα 10η Final gleaming – Palaiologan Era – Thessaloniki, Mystras
Thessaloniki’s role during the Palaiologan era. The abundance of the monuments and the paucity of the sources. Palaiologan monuments of Thessaloniki. Typology, building techniques, morphology. Problems of identification and dating of the churches. The relation between churches in Thessaloniki with concurrent trends in the Capital. Mystras as the seat of a local government. The city’s function and its urban space. Church architecture in Mystras and connections with the capital. Houses and palaces.
Εβδομάδα 11η “After” Byzantium
Developments in church architecture after the fall of Constantinople in Greece and the Balkans. The conditions of postbyzantine church architecture in recent scholarship. Basic concepts of periodization and classification of the material. Regional “schools”, their validity and time span of their prime. Ecclesiastic architecture in the newly found Greek state. Return to Byzantium?
Εβδομάδα 12η Monastic Architecture
Monasteries as paramount structures of Byzantine society and agents of culture. Monastic complexes echoing Byzantine building tradition. Analyses of the elements comprising a monastic settlement and the basic facts of monastic life. Examples from every period and region of Byzantine dominion. Mount Athos. Athonite monasteries as a microcosm. Theories of spatial organization. Components of the building complexes. Primary and secondary spaces. In and out of the courtyard. Monasteries in western Europe.
Εβδομάδα 13η Buildings that change – The long life of buildings in Byzantium
Reexamining theories of typology and evolution in Byzantine ecclesiastic architecture. Reconsidering cases of churches that were reshaped and ways of examination. Facts and theoretical constructions. Problems of dating. Examining specific examples. (i.e. The Rotunda in Thessaloniki, Saint Demetrius, the church of the Virgin in Ephesus, The church in Amorio, The Nea Mone in Chios island, The Paregoretissa in Arta, The Hodegetria in Mystra).
Additional bibliography for study
R. Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, New Haven 19864 (Αναθεωρημένη έκδοση από τους R. Krautheimer και S. Ćurčić)
C. Mango, Byzantine Architecture, New York 1976
T. F. Mathews, The Early churches of Constantinople. Architecture and Liturgy, University Park 1971
T. F. Mathews, The Byzantine Churches of Istanbul: A Photographic Survey, University Park 1976
W. Müller – Wiener, Bildlexikon zur Topografie Istanbuls, Tübingen 1977
R. Ousterhout, Master Builders of Byzantium, Princeton 1999
Γ. Βελένης, Μεσοβυζαντινή Ναοδομία στη Θεσσαλονίκη, Αθήνα 2003
Ν. Γκιολές, Βυζαντινή Ναοδομία (600-1204), Αθήνα 1987
Χ. Μπούρας, Βυζαντινή και Μεταβυζαντινή αρχιτεκτονική στην Ελλάδα, Αθήνα 2001
R. G. Ousterhout, Eastern Medieval Architecture. The Building Traditions of Byzantium and Neighboring Lands, Oxford 2019