Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Part 40

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The Justinian period roughly includes the seventh century, and is followed by a long decline, marked by the great iconoclastic controversy which lasted almost until the middle of the ninth century. To this period belongs S. Irene (740 A.D.). In plan it is a double-domed cross church. In the arrangement of the dome-arches and galleries it resembles S. Theodosia, whilst in the presence of a western gallery over the narthex and in the number of columns in the 'nave arcade' it is like S.


The accession of Basil the Macedonian (867 A.D.) marks the beginning of the second great period--the 'Basilian Renaissance.' We know that this was a period of great religious activity, and though we have, unfortunately, no known dates to guide us, the development of plan leads us to place a group of churches in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries. These are S. Mary Pammakaristos, S. Mary Panachrantos, S.

Theodosia, S. Mary Diaconissa, and SS. Peter and Mark.

They are all churches of considerable size; S. Mary Diaconissa and S.

Theodosia being indeed large. They are characterised by the use of the ambulatory and domed cross plans. The carving is coa.r.s.e and the capitals are of the clumsy Byzantine Corinthian type. The dome is raised on a high drum in S. Mary Pammakaristos and S. Mary Panachrantos, though this may be a later addition. The domes of the other three churches seem to be Turkish. S. Mary Pammakaristos and the south church in S. Mary Panachrantos are identical in plan with S. Andrew in Krisei, and it would be possible to date them earlier had we any evidence whatsoever.

Unfortunately both have been very much altered.

S. Theodosia, S. Mary Diaconissa, and SS. Peter and Mark, taken in this order, form a series showing the gradual disappearance of the galleries and the evolution of the domed cross church into the 'four columned'

church of the next period.

The Myrelaion (919-945), if the present church is of that date, is an unusually early example of this four-columned type. It is generally considered that this plan type dates at the earliest from the eleventh century. There is, however, no reason to believe that the church was rebuilt later; it is a perfectly normal example of its cla.s.s, and nowhere is an early example more probable than in Constantinople. The Myrelaion may accordingly be taken as marking the commencement of the late Byzantine period in Constantinople.

The churches are now smaller; the gynecaeum, where present, is placed over the narthex; the use of patterning in the brickwork of the exterior, which occurs in some of the Basilian churches (_e.g._ the cornice of S. Theodosia), now becomes important, and alternate coursing in brick and stone is used with great effect. From this time onwards narthexes were frequently added to the existing churches.

S. Saviour Pantokrator (1118-1143 A.D.) is the largest late church in Constantinople, and is an unusually large church of its type. S. Saviour Pantepoptes (1081-1118), S. Theodore, and S. John in Trullo, belong to the same cla.s.s. The last, with its circular dome and apse, is probably the latest of the three. S. Thekla (1057-1059) and Bogdan Serai are examples of hall churches of the same period.

The monastery of Manuel was founded in 829-842 A.D., but the building believed to be the refectory is probably much later. As part of the monastery it might, of course, have been built at any date subsequent to the foundation of the House.

The architecture of the Sanjakdar does not correspond to the date of the foundation of the monastery of the Gastria in the ninth century. The building is certainly of late date, subsequent to the eleventh century.

Of the Balaban Mesjedi it is impossible to say anything. It is the remnant of some Byzantine structure.

From 1204 to 1261, during the Latin Empire, we need not look for much building in the Greek Church. Soon after the fall of that empire comes the erection of S. Mary of the Mongols (1261-1282) and Monastir Jamissi (1282-1328). In both cases the architectural character is what we should expect. Following on this we have, in the fourteenth century, the alterations made in S. Saviour in the Chora (_c._ 1300), and the parecclesion of the Pammakaristos (_c._ 1315).

This was the last effort of pure Byzantine architecture in Constantinople. During the hundred years preceding the Turkish conquest in 1453 the gradually increasing pressure from the East put a stop to all architectural schemes; the craftsmen and artists fled to Italy, and there took their part in the great revival known as 'The Renaissance.'



V. S. John of the Studion, 463.

VI. SS. Sergius and Bacchus, 527-36.

S. Sophia, 532-37.

S. Saviour in the Chora (the Justinian foundation).

S. Andrew in Krisei.

VIII. S. Irene, 740.

S. Mary Panachrantos (South Church); possibly earlier.

S. Mary Pammakaristos; possibly earlier.

IX. S. Theodosia.

S. Mary Diaconissa.

SS. Peter and Mark.

X. The Myrelaion.

S. Mary Panachrantos (South Church).

XI. S. Thekla.

S. Saviour in the Chora (restoration in the reign of Alexius I.


S. Saviour Pantepoptes.

S. Saviour Pantokrator.

XII. S. Theodore.

S. John in Trullo.

Refectory of the monastery of Manuel?

Bogdan Serai?

XIII. S. Mary of the Mongols.

Monastir Jamissi.

XIV. S. Saviour in the Chora, 1306. Final restoration by Theodore Metochites. Parecclesion of the church of S. Mary Pammakaristos, _c._ 1315. Sanjakdar Mesjedi (Gastria)?

Balaban Mesjedi?


_Basilica._--S. John of the Studion.

_Octagon._--SS. Sergius and Bacchus.

_Domed Basilica._--S. Saviour in the Chora.

_Ambulatory._--S. Andrew in Krisei; S. Mary Panachrantos (South Church); S. Mary Pammakaristos.

_Domed Cross Church._--S. Irene; S. Theodosia; S. Mary Diaconissa; SS. Peter and Mark.

_Four Column Church._--Myrelaion; S. Saviour Pantepoptes; S. Saviour Pantokrator; S. John in Trullo; S. Mary Panachrantos (North Church); Parecclesion of S. Mary Pammakaristos.

_Foiled Plan._--S. Mary of the Mongols.

_Halls._--Bogdan Serai; Central Church of the Pantokrator; Monastir Mesjedi; Refectory of the monastery of Manuel; Parecclesion of S. Saviour in the Chora; S. Thekla.

_Irregular._--Sanjakdar Mesjedi; Balaban Mesjedi.


Ante-Nicene Christian Library.

Anthologia Graeca epigrammatum, Stadt-Mueller, 1894.

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Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Part 40 summary

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