Procopius The Hagia Sophia Class Work
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The Hagia Sophia Procopius, De Aedificiis (Buildings)
“[The Church] is distinguished by indescribable beauty, excelling both in its size, and in the harmony of its measures, having no part excessive and none deficient…”
The Hagia Sophia dwarfs all surrounding buildings and is truly a magnificent building, unlike anything at the time. [Hamish] “
• “The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare that the place is not lighted by the sun from without, but that the rays are produced within itself, such an abundance of light is poured into this church...”
The fascinating design of the Hagia Sophia allows light to shine through constantly. It has far more windows than the vast majority of churches, which is one of the things that makes it so unique. The dome of the church has often been said to appear as if it is floating on a ring of light (due to the ring of 40 windows it rests on). [Georgina]
“A spherical-shaped dome standing upon this circle makes it exceedingly beautiful; from the lightness of the building, it does not appear to rest upon a solid foundation, but to cover the place beneath as though it were suspended from heaven by the fabled golden chain.”
• The dome seems as if it is floating due to all the light streaming in creating the illusion of etherealism. [Hamish]
The dome of Hagia Sophia is said to be floating on light. The windows of the dome give the vision that the dome is not attached to the church, but is in fact being held aloft. [Hannah]
“The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare that the place is not lighted by the sun from without but that the rays are produced from within itself, such an abundance of light is poured into this church” The Hagia Sophia includes numerous openings to admit light into the building, which not only serve to illuminate the space, something which would have been relatively unprecedented in a building of its size at the time, but also symbolically references the divine light of heaven, which procopius says comes “from within itself”, the seat of divine power on earth. The light from within is also true in a more literal sense; the entire ceiling of the church (the metaphorical “dome of heaven”) is covered in gilded mosaics, which “glow” with reflected sunlight. [John]
“The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare that the place is not lighted by the sun from without, but that the rays are produced within itself, such an abundance of light is poured into this church...”
Light has always been used to symbolise the purity of an object/person. As opposed to darkness which has many negative connotations surrounding it. By continuously referring back to how light the church Procopius is stating how pure and Holy the building must be and that it gives of an aura of purity. Hence the statement, “...you declare that the place is not lighted by the sun... But that the rays are produced within itself...” It radiates “light” in the same way a halo of an angel might. Angels being purity in essence. [Emilie]
• “A spherical-shaped dome standing upon this circle makes it exceedingly beautiful; from the lightness of the building, it does not appear to rest upon a solid foundation, but to cover the place beneath as though it were suspended from heaven by the fabled golden chain.”
The central dome of the church has a diameter of 31 meters and is supported by four pendentives.
When the building is penetrated by sunlight through the numerous arches that surround thåe base of the dome, it provides the illusion that the dome is weightless and is floating, rather than supported by the pendentives. In this instance the arches appear to be one large circular ‘golden chain’. [Jackson]
Anthemius found himself in a geometric fix. How would he build a circular dome atop a square base? Anthemius arrived at a revolutionary solution. He built four massive columns at the corner of each square. On top of the columns, he built four arches. He then filled the spaces between the arches with masonry to create curved triangular shapes called pendentives. The pendentives and the tops of the arches combine to form a strong base for the dome. [Ismail]
The dome in the Hagia Sophia is one of the central, eyecatching features. One hundred and eighty feet in diameter, the axis of the church is located in the dome. It rests above a circle of 40 light-filled windows, which has been attributed to the ‘floating’ look of the dome. In Procopius’ time, the top of the interior of the dome was covered with a large mosaic of Christ, called the ‘Pantocrator’, which would have contributed to the awe-inspiring feel. [Georgina]
• “Moreover it is impossible accurately to describe the gold, and silver, and gems, presented by the Emperor Justinian…”
Procopius is saying that it is impossible to describe the amount and extravagance of jewels, gold, silver, mosaics and stained glass windows within the building. Justinian obviously spared no expense.
“Moreover it is impossible acurately to describe the gold, and silver and gems, presented by the Emperor Justinian...”
Architecture accomplishments The architects chosen by Emperor for the construction of the Hagia Sophia were Isidore of Miletus (a professor of geometry and mechanics) and Anthemius of Tralles (a physicist and mathematician). Material from all over the empire was brought to conributie to the church, the most notable of which are Hellenistic columns from the Temple of Artemis, green marble from Thessaly, black stone from the Bosporus region and yellow stone from Syria. [Myra]
• While it was a Christian church, The Hagia was decorated with many golden mosaics often depicting religious scenes. • There were precisely cut pieces of white marble set against black marble in patterns of flowers and birds. Many decorations were added in later centuries. Christ was added to the central dome and many other figures too. • However, many were covered up with plaster because of Islam’s ban on representational figures. [Nic]