Rotunda (architecture)

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The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, famously designed by the third US president Thomas Jefferson. University of Virginia Rotunda 2006.jpg
The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, famously designed by the third US president Thomas Jefferson.

A rotunda (from Latin rotundus) is any building with a circular ground plan, and sometimes covered by a dome. It may also refer to a round room within a building (a famous example being the one below the dome of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.). The Pantheon in Rome is a famous rotunda. A band rotunda is a circular bandstand, usually with a dome.


Rotunda in Central Europe

A great number of parochial churches were built in this form in the 9th to 11th centuries CE in Central Europe. These round churches can be found in great number in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia (particularly Dalmatia) Austria, Bavaria, Germany, and the Czech Republic. It was thought of as a structure descending from the Roman Pantheon. However, it can be found mainly not on former Roman territories, but in Central Europe. Generally its size was 6–9 meters inner diameter and the apse was directed toward the east. Sometimes three or four apses were attached to the central circle and this type has relatives even in the Caucasus.

Rotunda in the Carpathian Basin

Rotunda svateho Juraja (Romanesque Rotunda of St.George in Skalica, Slovakia from 11th century) Skalica st george.jpg
Rotunda svätého Juraja (Romanesque Rotunda of St.George in Skalica, Slovakia from 11th century)

Several types of rotundas are found in the Carpathian Basin, within the former boundaries of Kingdom of Hungary. Building of rotundas in Carpathian basin started already in 9th century in Great Moravia. According to the research and radiocarbon dating of plaster, Rotunda of st. George in Nitrianska Blatnica was built sometimes around the year 830, what makes it one of the oldest still standing buildings in the area of Central Europe. [1] [2] Similar rotunda was standing in hillfort Kostolec in Ducové (only foundations remained). The role and form of rotundas developed from gradual enlargements of ancient small village churches. Many of them still stand today, e.g. in Nagytótlak, Kallósd and Kissikátor in Hungary or in Bíňa and Šivetice in Slovakia. Rotunda in Šivetice is the biggest one in Central Europe, with diameter of 11 m. [3] In many places the ancient foundations have been excavated and conserved. The village church of Sárospatak is complete with a simple circular nave and an eastern apse. The church of Alagimajor at Dunakeszi was enlarged toward the apse in the 14th century. More significant enlargement of the central rotunda is seen at Isaszeg where the extension extended toward the East and West; the rotunda foundations can also be seen in the central portion of the nave of the Gothic church. In many cases the rotunda was used as the apse of the village's new and larger church (Bagod-Szentpál, Hidegség, Vágkeresztur, Ipolykiskeszi, Herencsény, Szalonna). Such semi-circle apses are preserved all over the Carpathian Basin. Rotundas of six apses, a most interesting form, are found at Karcsa, Kiszombor in Hungary, at Horjany in Ukraine and several places in Armenia (Aragatz, Bagaran, Bagnayr, Botshor, Kiagmis Alti).

Rotunda in the Caucasus

There is an interesting connection between Central European and Caucasian rotundas of the 9th to 11th centuries AD. Several Armenian built rotunda churches have sixfold arched central apsis, i.e. at Aragatz, Bagaran, Bagnayr, Botshor, Kiagmis Alti in Armenia. At the same time eightfold arched central buildings (rotunda) are also frequently occurring in Armenia: Ani, Irind, Varzhahan. It was a suggestion (Csemegi J.) that there was not only western European but Eastern Caucasian relation for architects of Hungary in this age of King Stephen I of Hungary.

Good example of Georgian rotunda church is Bana cathedral which is now located on territory of Turkey.

Rotunda in Asia

Notable rotundas

Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand SIF-Beehive-3-Cropped.jpg
Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand
Interior of the rotunda at New York City's Steinway Hall with an Art Case Piano by artist Mia LaBerge in the foreground. Rotunda interior steinway hall nyc mia laberge art case piano.jpg
Interior of the rotunda at New York City's Steinway Hall with an Art Case Piano by artist Mia LaBerge in the foreground.
The Rotunda office and Residential building in Birmingham, England is an example of modern rotunda buildings Rotunda, Birmingham July 2007.JPG
The Rotunda office and Residential building in Birmingham, England is an example of modern rotunda buildings
The St. George Rotunda (4th century) and some remains of Serdica can be seen in the foreground StGeorgeRotundaSofia.JPG
The St. George Rotunda (4th century) and some remains of Serdica can be seen in the foreground

Religious buildings

Buildings for entertainment

Residential buildings

Buildings for learning

Government buildings

Commercial buildings

See also

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  6. California, California State Parks, State of. "California State Capitol Museum". CA State Parks. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  7. Tour - Rotunda

Further reading