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The Effects Of Christianity On Architecture

1654 words - 7 pages

Throughout history religion has continually played an important part in the on goings of humanity. Religious differences have created new societies and even sparked domestic and international conflicts. Beyond these areas of influence, religion has affected art in the form of the colloquial idea of art as well as literature, sculpture and architecture. Two structures where religion plays heavy influence, in differing time periods are the Arch of Constantine in Rome, Italy, and the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris, France. The two exhibit the different views of Christianity in their respective time periods. While, the Arch of Constantine was constructed during the rise of Christianity ...view middle of the document...

The ornate buildings are a way to give patronage to God and represent the relationship with God and the heavens. The movement was heavily rooted in France and the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris is a glowing example of the Gothic architecture. Constructed in the twelfth century A.D. the Notre Dame de Paris brought about radical changes and advancements in Gothic architecture. As the spires escalated up, the builders found that the structure could not support the new pointed arch style and effectively sparked the invention of the flying buttress (Sayre, 406). In addition to the French influence, several aspects of the Cathedral and Gothic architecture are taken directly from the Roman design innovation and standard. The Francophone design of Gothic churches fueled the spread of the Gothic style from the Northern Renaissance to the lower Italian Renaissance.
The strongest commonality, and most evident, between the pieces is the incorporation of the roman arch. Roman architects understood that the triangle is the strongest shape, using this information they developed the sturdy arch and the aqueduct with a triangular representation. In the Arch of Constantine the three arches are accompanied by borrowed Roman decorations and adornments. Though this is a commonality, the archways at Notre Dame de Paris are a modernization of the Roman archway. The ribbed arches allowed the architects to structurally increase the number of arches and eliminate the thick and chunky size of the Roman arch, producing daintier and more refined individual arches (Sayre, 410).
A sharp contrast between the two structures is shown in their names. The Arch of Constantine was built in honor of Constantine and his name is attached to the design (Jones, 51). This implies ownership and raise Constantine, in addition to the religious values represented in the structure. Conversely, Notre Dame de Paris in French means Our Lady of Paris. The name of the Cathedral emphasizes more the importance of the structure and the relationship to God over the commissioner of the Cathedral or the architect. The difference stems from the development of Christianity. The Arch of Constantine was constructed in the fourth century A.D. and was marked by Constantine being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. The architect, the Senate and Constantine at this point are all still heavily immersed in traditions of Roman pagan rituals. Christian architecture has not yet developed and movement is still in its infancy. Comparatively, the Cathedral was constructed in the twelfth century and went through restoration due to vandalism and destruction attributed to the violence during the Enlightenment or the French Revolution. Additionally, tied in with the difference of placement on the timeline of the rise of Christianity, the difference of the ruling class played a part in the contrast of the two structures. The Roman emperor Constantine ruled independently of the church until his conversion...

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