Russian Orthodox Church Architecture
- Basic architectural problem
- Same as Byzantine church architecture.
- Problem: how to reconcile the symbolic content of the building with the difficulty of getting it to stand up.
- Symbolic content
- church building is a symbol of the universe
- dome above stands for the open heavens
- square/rectangular base stands for the earth below
the light from the heavens above "breaks in" to the earth below and transfigures our world.
a fundamentally different approach to church architecture than in the Western tradition (e,g. Gothic) where our attention is directed above to transcend this world.
- Structural Problem
- how to get a round dome on a square base
- essential nature of solution: throw something across the corners of the building
- variations of this structural solution along with decorative variations for the history of Russian Orthodox church architecture.
- Early Byzantine Influence
- Hagia (St.) Sophia in Kiev (1036-1046). 010
- built by Yaroslav the Wise
- imitation of Justinian's Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
- basilica: series of 5 aisles East to West
- central dome over the great crossing symbolizing Christ
- 12 smaller domes representing the Apostles
- originally low "helmet" domes over the "drums"
- probably an overall pyramid shape
- decorated with mosaics and wall paintings
- some secular decorations
- 2 actors (one masked) fighting
- musicians playing string instruments
- by 1018 there were 400 churches in Kiev
- Church of the Transfiguration in Chernigov
- "cross in the square" floor plan
- porches added from monastic influence
- lack of fancy decoration on outside walls
- Vladimir/Suzdal Period
- Vladimir superseded Kiev as capital of Russia
- classic Russian modification of Byzantine style
- 3 aisles terminating in apses at the east end
- appearance of a narrow, cylindrical drum upholding the dome
- Church of the Pokrov on the river Nerl. 012
- small scale
- cubic proportions
- single dome
- sculptured decoration on walls
- Cathedral of St. Dmitri at Vladimir (1194-97) shows sculptured decorations, some reminiscent of wood-carving. 013, 014, 039
- The Novgorod Period
- St. Sophia (1045-52). 042
- town's principal church and coronation church of its princes
- 5 domes, 3 aisles
- Church of St. George in the Yuriev Monastery (1119). 011
- only 3 domes
- transformation of squat Byzantine dome into the pointed Russian one was under way. Strong resemblance to the helmet worn by Russian soldiers at that time.
- Late 13th century marks a halt in Novgorod's cultural life. Novgorod pays tribute to the Mongols.
- Introduction of sloping roof. Better suited to the Russian climate.
- Three-fold division of exterior walls, heightened and decorated drum, helmet shaped dome.
- Wooden Churches.
- Contributed to the Moscow architectural style.
- Octagonal plan, tent shaped roof.
- External staircase with a sloped roof.
- The Moscow Period
- The Russian Church transforms its seat from Vladimir to Moscow in 1328
- Cathedral of the Assumption built by the Italian architect Fioravanti for Ivan III, after the cathedral of the same name in Vladimir.
- Later developments in architecture
- kokoshniki: arches thrown on top of arches. 004,
- decorative effect of kokoshniki
- first Italian influence in Moscow Kremlin: Renaissance details on walls of exterior.
- tent-shaped churches (first built of logs)
- extreme verticality implemented with kokoshniki
- St. Basil's in Red Square. 040,
- basis for bell towers after Patriarch Nikon: Tower of Ivan the Terrible in Kremlin. 052,
- Successive Western Influence
- Baroque: rounded walls, sweeping staircases
- St. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg
- Neoclassicism: Holy Trinity Cathedral in Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg
- Interior of Russian Churches
- light of the divine presence transfiguring the cosmos
- light diffused through narrow lanced windows in drums. 034,
- based on Revelation's description of the New Jerusalem with constant light from no known source (bathed in light)
- use of frescoes and icons to make present the whole community of saints
- main dome over great crossing: Pantocrator (God the Ruler of all) at top of dome; prophets of Israel, angels at lower ranks in drum. 037, 038
- main walls: major scenes from Gospels; church feasts and councils; saints
- iconostasis: 002. Royal doors have four evangelists and feasts of Annunciation; Last Supper on lintel above Royal doors; image of Savior to right of Royal doors and Virgin to left; Deacons and angels on other doors; second rank 12 feasts of church year; 3rd rank: Lord in Glory flanked by John the Baptist and Mother of God and saints and church fathers (called the Deisis); highest rank: prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament
- main apse behind the iconostasis: Mother of God
- Russian architecture treats iconostasis increasingly as a wall
- only people in holy orders can enter beyond the iconostasis
- only priests and deacons can pass through Royal Doors