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Dome of the Rock, Hagia Sophia, Old St Peters Basilica

My task is to conduct a piece for the docents in order to prepare them for visitors questions during an upcoming festival. I am wishing to ensure that they understand the importance of the geographical location of Byzantium in relation to the rise of Islam, Roman Cathlocism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Thus, I have chosen three architectural designs from these three religions (Islam, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy between 300-750 CE.) They include Old St Peters Basilica, Hagia Sophia, and Dome of the Rock. From my understanding Byzantine is vastly important due to its location during this era.

Individuals utilized Basilicas such as Old St. Peters due to the faith or public worshiping of the faith was at one time was reprehensible or illegal. However, with the rise of Constantine it was legal yet the lack of structures for worship Basilicas were utilized for public worship. This was the case of Old St. Peters. As from my understanding it was at one time used a law court with a structure or statue of an emperor which was removed to place the alter. It was a rectangular building with parallel rows of columns or piers that allowed the people to sit during service. This area was surrounded by an outer wall which made or formed the aisle way within the structure. The central space was heightened by a celestory which provided natural lighting within the church. It had a low pitch symetrical or isosceles truss roof. These triangular shaped roof areas covered the side aisleways. Therefore, they were not constructed with great height or other magnificent features. However, they did have religious wall paintings that were more symbolic in nature. they depicted the Holy Father and saints of the faith.

The next area of structures were Hagia Sophia and Dome of the Rock which were both octagon shape and built from inside out. They were comprised with vaulted or high ceilings, domes, engaged and freestanding columns and mosaics depicting their religious faiths. The Hagia Sophia is stated that dome was constructed to provide the illusion as if it is floating on/in air. This structure was comprised with mosaics of people whereas the Dome of the Rock had geometric designs and calligraphy due to their religious beliefs. Additionally, it was constructed where all individuals would be facing an easterly direction during prayer as this again was their belief.

However, I am unclear as to further detail on the architectural design elements of these structures. Thus, any/all guidance would be greatly appreciated. I have researched for information and the more I search the more confused I get as these structures seem to have been reconstructed during later times and I am attempting to research 300-725 C.E./A.D. Additionally, some originally began as one faith and were converted or are being used for another. Thus, I am turning to this for guidance if possible.

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In order to answer the question posed to you, it is necessary to address the physical location of these structures and the geography's symbolism within the religions that defined the areas during the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire.

Your research is correct. These structures have complex histories, mainly due to the different religious conquests that occurred during the Byzantine period, as well as throughout history.

1. The Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem is the focal point of three major religious sects, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Therefore, the very geographical location lends itself to different interpretations by each of these religions. The actual rock that is being venerated was believed by these religions to be worthy of a monumental structure to enclose the sacred space. The rock has been viewed by followers of Judaism as the tomb of Adam, as well as the location of where Abraham received the order from God to sacrifice Isaac. Yet, in Islam, the geographical location of the Dome of the Rock is said to be where Mohammed ascended into heaven (though Muslims made this claim after the Dome was built). Christians view the Dome of the Rock as a holy place and one of the first Christian Churches. Because of these different views from the different religions, the present architectural structure has design elements that reflect both Islamic and early Christian architecture. Situated in Jerusalem, a holy city that all three religions lay claim to, The Dome of the Rock has been used in different ways by these religions for different purposes, hence why there are contradicting features in its design.

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is believed to be the first major monument of Islamic architecture (so it is originally an ...

Solution Summary

Dome of the Rock, Hagia Sophia, Old St Peters Basilica. This solution provides details on the architectural elements of these three structures related to their geographic location within the context of Byzantium. In order to correctly answer this posting, it is necessary to address the physical location of these structures and the geography's symbolism within the religions that defined the areas during the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire.