The paper “ The Evolution of Paleo Christian and Imperial Christian Church Architecture" is a perfect example of a term paper on architecture. The Christian Architectural period could not be exactly calculated but many historic books say that it began approximately around the late second or at the beginning of the third century. What we call the ancient architecture as “ paleo” do not have an exact historical record, but many architectures which have evolved out of this could be illustrated such as the Byzantine art, Constantine architecture, etc. The Christian Empire witnessed a revolution in art during the period of Constantine, that is between 313-476.
with the advent of many artistic innovations such as paintings conveying the biblical stories are done in Roam churches, especially Basilicas. This was done with the intention of public display. St. Peter’ s and St. Maria Magiorre do have these types of paintings painted inside the Churches, and they are called as Roman Basilicas. Most of the Church architectural designs of Constantine’ s time evolved from his inspiration of the ancient times, particularly of the basilicas pattern. Constantine insisted strongly on spreading Christianity and as a result, he started to build Churches in all parts of the Roman Empire.
The basilica model comprised of portions built within to manifest many activities, the architecture of Basilica Churches might look like a complicated one with galleries, courtyards, halls assemblies, etc, They are considered as great monumental structures of the period of Constantine. Constantine emphasized on a new form of religious structure in Churches and Church practices, so he absolutely rejected the pagan religious forms of the Churches. In 335 C. E The Emperor of Constantine declared Christianity as the official religion of Rome, as a result, he built the Holy Sepulchre as a place identifying the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The early church models consisted of tunnels and underground rooms with a primary intention of conducting funeral activities, The Jews also used the same type of structures and during the time of Constantine it was believed that most of the parts of the Church was used for funeral purposes, and pagan god worship was followed in those times. Since Constantine strictly object belief in pagan gods, he rejected the catacombs while constructing and renovating Church models.
He drew his architectural designs from domestic architecture, imperial audience hall, and Roman Basilicas. A mixture of Roman and Gothic Cathedrals. Old St Peter's which began during 333A. D could be suggested as an exact example for Early Basilica. The paleo Christian churches were treated as the main place for a reunion and many other activities, one of the best example would be Sant’ Ambrogio in Milan. It was from the time of Constantine that the evolution of religious Churches emerged, with particular and serious intention to make Christianity as the religion of the Empire.
The architecture of his time reflects the people’ s sturdy belief in religion. The Edict of Milan during 313 was also worked as a striking force to spread the effect of Christianity spreading rapidly. The Churches built in the Roman Empire reflected basilicas and the emperor insisted on the point that the predecessor religious impact should not be there. That is to differentiate from the pagan worship and Jewish worship. The churches built during the time of Constantine flourished well in their interiors, the best example would be St. Peter’ s.
The Byzantium Empire also witnessed the same revolution in architectural patterns in the Church construction. This began when Constantine moved the Roam Empire to Byzantium. One of the conventional architectural designs built with a central nave, [where Bishops and Priests could be seated] this is also another type of basilica, Constantine followed this pattern inside his palace at Trier during the fourth century. The first basilicas were built under the supervision and order of Constantine, and he later named the place as “ New Rome” . Constantine was a pagan worshiper but he was converted due to a dream, in which he found himself ordering his soldiers to embed the figure of Christ.
So he converted his belief over Christianity hoping that this religion would save him and gives him victory as he expected. The concept of persecution was one of the main trends of the pagan worshipers; this could be found from their architectural designs illustrated above. They constructed a complicated building structure with underground rooms.
St. Peter’ s was one among them. Constantine later renewed this design according to the Roman basilica model. The location of the Church models built by Constantine was around the Roman Empire, but when he moved the Roman Empire towards Byzantium, he converted the landscape as a place of worship. The origin of Constantine’ s architectural designs are evolution form the ancient Roman Basilicas, but as he got the dream he converted his pagan view and transferred all the Christian ideas by remodeling some of the ancient churches such as St. Peter’ s and stressed on spreading Christianity as the main religion of the Empire.
As a result of this, the churches that were constructed during his rule reflects the Roman Basilicas and were found to be the place for conducting legal activities also. There is an evolution of the early architectural models found in Constantine’ s Empire but the influence seem to have come mostly from the Roman Architectural model.