St. Marks vs. Notre Dame

Essay by dreamgrafxUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, December 2002

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St. Marks vs. Notre Dame

St. Mark's Cathedral, built in 829AD, contains a plethora of different architectural and sculptural influences from throughout the centuries. Although it was built in the Byzantine era its style is rooted in the traditions of the Roman Empire (Demus). St. Mark's giant vaulted ceiling contains five large timber frame domes which each rest on a group of four piers. One large central dome is surrounded by four smaller domes in the pattern of a Greek cross (photo).

In order to support the base of the largest dome, four pendentives, or spherical triangles spring out from the corners and are locked into a square formed by four huge arches. These pendentives are used to create a smooth transition between the spherical shape of the dome and the square layout of its base. This architectural solution was perfected during the Byzantine era and can be seen in many churches (Demus).

Each of the domed regions forms its own, separate Greek cross, yet each of the smaller areas is interconnected with the entire building. Arched openings bring the viewer's eye evenly and smoothly throughout the interior of the church as no area is compartmentalized from the rest. The ceiling of the church is dome in a style which gives it the illusion that it is floating in the air due to the use of giant archways resting on smaller piers (Demus). The lightened visual effect is typical during the Byzantine era and is still an awe-inspiring artistic feat today.

This style of "hanging" architecture is amplified by the sheets of polished marble and mosaics that decorate the inside of the church. The decorations are a collection of art throughout the ages, brought in from the world by trading ships (Yarwood). The mosaics and inlaid marble on the floor...