Book Description: Byzantine Architecture is one of three major forces in the architectural world during the Middle Ages of Europe. In 476, the "Western Roman Empire" fell, while the Eastern Roman Empire, whose capital became Constantinople, preserved Roman culture (and architecture) and became the Byzantine Empire.
Though this civilization wasn't the first to concentrate their architecture on religious themes, it was a strong feature among Byzantine architects. Most works were to glorify the Church, in this case, the Eastern Orthodox Church, or the Emperor. Much of Byzantine architecture was created to express religious experience & mediate between the believer & God. Taken in its architectural context, the iconographic program of the mosaics and frescoes of the Kariye Camii envelopes the believer within scenes of the Old Testament & the lives of Christ and Mary Mother of God. Visual expressions of faith within the context of the Eucharist & other religious ceremonies then provide layers of meaning, even the primary context, to the architectural heritage of the Byzantine world. The best example is the Hagia Sophia, completed in 537. The Hagia Sophia was a Christian church at Constantinople at first. It was mosque under the control of the Ottoman Empire.
The religious buildings & their designs are the first achievements of the Byzantine Empire. Another important advancement was the development of bacilicas. Bacilicas were early Christian or medieval churches. This style was common in Roman Catholic & Eastern Orthodox churches.
Byzantine & Islamic architecture share a common trend: the use of the dome. One example is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which was Islamic architecture, but illustrates the influence Byzantine bestowed as the dome style passed on to the Muslims. The most celebrated is the Taj Mahal at Agra, India. Byzantine's advancement in developing the dome created a new style in global architecture.