2018HSSL_FlipBooks

2018_FlipBook_Getlein_LivingWithArt_12e

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358 • C H R I S T I A N I T Y A N D T H E F O R M A T I O N O F E U R O P E Christian buildings also borrowed from Roman models. Under Constantine's imperial sponsorship, architects raised a series of large and opulent churches at key locations in the empire. One of these was Old St. Peter's, built on the spot in Rome where it was believed that Peter, Jesus's first apostle, had been buried. This structure was demolished in 1506 to make way for the "new" St. Peter's, which is still stand- ing (see 16.10), but contemporary descriptions and drawings have enabled scholars to make informed guesses about its design (15.4). What should a church look like? Most Roman, Greek, and even Egyptian and Mesopotamian temples had essentially been conceived as dwelling places for the gods they were dedicated to. Priests might enter to perform rites of sacrifice and worship, but groups of ordinary people viewed those rites from outside, if they viewed them at all. Christianity from the beginning emphasized congregational wor- ship, and so a fundamentally different kind of building was needed, one that could contain a lot of people. Roman architects already had such a structure in their repertoire of standard building types, a multipurpose meeting hall called a basilica (15.5, top). As the plan shows, a basilica was basically a long, rectangular hall. Entrances might be on the long or the short sides (here, they are on the long sides). At one or both ends (both, in this example) might be a curved section called an apse. To admit light, the open central space, called the nave, extended up higher than the surrounding aisles. This upward extension was called the clerestory, and it was pierced with windows called clerestory windows. If you look back at the drawing of Old St. Peter's (see 15.4), you can now clearly see the central nave with its clerestory windows and the lower side aisles that buttress it. In the distance, at the far end of the nave, is an apse. A plan of Old St. Peter's (15.5, bottom) makes this clear and also shows an additional element. The basilica form is designed with the entry on one of the short sides. Inside we find the wide central nave flanked by narrower aisles. At the far end is the apse. A natural focal point for anyone entering the church, the apse provides a setting for the altar, the focal point of Christian worship. In addition, this far wall is extended slightly to each side of the building. The extensions create a lengthwise section perpendicular to the nave called a transept. Together, nave and transept form a cross, a fundamental Christian symbol. Preceding the church was an atrium. An open courtyard surrounded by a covered walkway, the atrium was a standard element of Roman domestic architecture. The arm of the walkway directly in front of the church served as an entry porch called a narthex. The elements here—nave, aisles, clerestory, apse, transept, and narthex—formed the basic vocabu- lary of church architecture in the West for many centuries. We will use these words often in this chapter. 15.4 Reconstruction of Old St. Peter's, Rome. Begun ca. 320. 15.5 Plan of a Roman basilica (top) and plan of Old St. Peter's (bottom).

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