Hagia Sophia Essay

911 WordsJul 29, 20144 Pages
HAGIA SOPHIA Hagia Sophia is a Greek work meaning “Holy Wisdom”. It is said to be the most glorious Christian church in the history of the Byzantine Empire. It is located at Istanbul (Constantinople) capital of Byzantine. In the five years Emperor Justinian, a rebellion started because of high taxes. It destroyed the old cathedral giving him an opportunity to reshape his image. Wanting to revive the glory that was ruined, he built churches to expand his empire around the Mediterranean. Then there’s Hagia Sophia which he dreamt to be the most advanced, most beautiful, and the most magnificent church to be built in the quickest period of time. Justinian hired two skilled men, Anthemius of Tralles the Physicist and Isidore the Elder the mathematician. The initial plan was simple with a gigantic central space 31 sq. m. marked out by four great piers that supports the whole structure. Indeed it was an ambitious design. Building materials must be extremely light otherwise the support may not carry the weight of the structure. The Pantheon in Rome as basis was built from pozzolana- a volcanic ash used as a lightweight concrete. It is abundant in Italy but not in Istanbul so they have to find a replacement for it. Having a dome 56 m. high and 31 m. across and a nave three times wider than any Gothic churches was a big problem. The plan is the dome will sit at the top of four arches each 31 m wide, but the dome can only sit correctly at the top of the arch. Without support it will crack and crush. They have foreseen this problem ahead of time so they thought a solution, the pendentives. The pendentives implement the transition from the circular base of the dome to the rectangular base below, restraining the lateral forces of the dome and allow its weight to flow downwards. It is concave, mimicking the shape of the dome. But the piers alone can’t stand the load so

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