A tetraconch, from the Greek for "four shells", is a building, usually a church or other religious building, with four apses, one in each direction, usually of equal size. The basic ground plan of the building is therefore a Greek cross. They are most common in Byzantine, and related schools such as Armenian and Georgian architecture. It has been argued that they were developed in these areas or Syria, and the issue is a matter of contention between the two nations in the Caucasus.Apart from churches, the form is suitable for a mausoleum or baptistery. Normally, there will be a higher central dome over the central space.
The Basilica of San Lorenzo, Milan (370) is possibly the first example of a grander type, the "aisled tetraconch", with an outer ambulatory. In middle Byzantine architecture, the cross-in-square plan was developed, essentially filling out the tetraconch to form a square-ish exterior. Either of these types may also be described less precisely as "cross-domed". In these types the semi-dome of the apse usually starts directly from the central domed space.
The ruined Ninotsminda Cathedral of c.575 in Georgia is perhaps the oldest example in that country. The Armenian and Georgian examples are later than some others but a distinctive and sophisticated form of the plan. They are similar to the cross-in-square plan, but in Georgia the corner spaces, or "angle chambers", are only accessible from the central space through narrow openings, and are closed off from the apses (as at Jvari monastery, see plan above). In Armenia, the plan also developed in the 6th century, where the plan of St. Hripsime Church, Echmiadzin (618) is almost identical to Jvari.Later a different plan was developed, with a tetraconch main space completely encircled by an aisle, or ambulatory in the terminology used for Western churches, as at the ruined mid-7th century Zvartnots Cathedral. The ruined so-called Cathedral of Bosra, of the early 6th century, is the earliest major Syrian tetraconch church, though in Syria the type did not remain as popular as in the Caucasus.
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna (425–30), world-famous for its mosaics, is almost a tetraconch, although there are short vaulted arms leading from the central space to each apse-end. These end in a flat wall with no semi-dome, and the entrance end is slightly longer.
A famous revival of the tetraconch formula in the West is Bramante's first design for the Basilica of St. Peter, Rome.
A triconch building has only three apses; normally omitting the one at the liturgical west end, which may be replaced with a narthex. The eastern apse may be considerably larger than the ones to north and south. Many churches of both types have been extended, especially to the west by addition of naves, so that they came to resemble more conventional basilica-type churches. The church in Istanbul of St. Mary of the Mongols is an example. Many triconch churches were built with a nave from the start; this formula was very common in the West, especially in Romanesque architecture.
The architecture of cathedrals and great churches is characterised by the buildings' large scale and follows one of several branching traditions of form, function and style that derive ultimately from the Early Christian architectural traditions established in Late Antiquity during the Christianization of the Roman Empire.
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire.
In architecture, an apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome, also known as an exedra. In Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic Christian church architecture, the term is applied to a semi-circular or polygonal termination of the main building at the liturgical east end, regardless of the shape of the roof, which may be flat, sloping, domed, or hemispherical. Smaller apses may also be in other locations, especially shrines.
Jvari Monastery is a sixth-century Georgian Orthodox monastery near Mtskheta, eastern Georgia. Along with other historic structures of Mtskheta, it is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Jvari is a rare case of the Early Medieval Georgian church that survived to the present day almost unchanged. The church became the founder of its type, the Jvari type of church architecture, prevalent in Georgia and Armenia. Built atop of Jvari Mount, the monastery is an example of harmonious connection with the natural environment, characteristic to Georgian architecture.
Church architecture refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions. From the birth of Christianity to the present, the most significant objects of transformation for Christian architecture and design were the great churches of Byzantium, the Romanesque abbey churches, Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance basilicas with its emphasis on harmony. These large, often ornate and architecturally prestigious buildings were dominant features of the towns and countryside in which they stood. However, far more numerous were the parish churches in Christendom, the focus of Christian devotion in every town and village. While a few are counted as sublime works of architecture to equal the great cathedrals and churches, the majority developed along simpler lines, showing great regional diversity and often demonstrating local vernacular technology and decoration.
Santa Costanza is a 4th-century church in Rome, Italy, on the Via Nomentana, which runs north-east out of the city. It is a round building with well preserved original layout and mosaics. It has been built adjacent to a horseshoe-shaped church, now in ruins, which has been identified as the initial 4th-century cemeterial basilica of Saint Agnes. Santa Costanza and the old Saint Agnes were both constructed over the earlier catacombs in which Saint Agnes is believed to be buried.
Saint Hripsime Church is a seventh century Armenian Apostolic church in the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), Armenia. It is one of the oldest surviving churches in the country. The church was erected by Catholicos Komitas to replace the original mausoleum built by Catholicos Sahak the Great in 395 AD that contained the remains of the martyred Saint Hripsime to whom the church is dedicated. The current structure was completed in 618 AD. It is known for its fine Armenian-style architecture of the classical period, which has influenced many other Armenian churches since. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other nearby churches, including Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia's mother church, in 2000.
The Church of Saint Gayane is a 7th-century Armenian church in Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), the religious center of Armenia. It is located within walking distance from the Etchmiadzin Cathedral of 301. St. Gayane was built by Catholicos Ezra I in the year 630. Its design has remained unchanged despite partial renovations of the dome and some ceilings in 1652.
The Ateni Sioni Church is an early 7th-century Georgian Orthodox church in the village of Ateni, some 10 km (6.2 mi) south of the city of Gori, Georgia. It stands in a setting of Ateni gorge in the Tana River valley known not only for its historical monuments, but also for its picturesque landscapes and wine. The name "Sioni" derives from Mount Zion at Jerusalem. Ateni is the tetraconch church, typical for the period. Its frescoes are one of the best examples of the Georgian painting.
A cross-in-square or crossed-dome plan was the dominant architectural form of middle- and late-period Byzantine churches. It featured a square centre with an internal structure shaped like a cross, topped by a dome.
Zvartnots Cathedral is a 7th-century centrally planned aisled tetraconch type Armenian cathedral built by the order of Catholicos Nerses the Builder from 643-652. Now in ruins, it is located at the edge of the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin) in Armavir Province of Armenia.
Ninotsminda Cathedral is located in the village of Sagarejo, in the Kakheti region, Georgia.
In architecture, a semi-dome is a half dome that covers a semi-circular area in a building.
Bana, also known by the modern Turkish designation Penek Kilisesi, is a ruined early medieval cathedral in present-day Erzurum Province, eastern Turkey, in what had formerly been a historical marchland known to Armenians as Tayk and to Georgians as Tao.
Gharghavank is a ruined Armenian Apostolic church located on the outskirts of the village of Zoravan, at the lower slopes of Mount Ara in Kotayk Province, Armenia. To get to the church, turn left immediately after the small cemetery before reaching the village and go up the dirt road that follows closely next to the cemetery grounds. At the fork, keep following left up past the cemetery along a poorly maintained dirt road. After traveling some distance, the church will be perched upon the hillside to the right. Gharghavank may actually be seen from the main highway in the distance, but is hardly distinguishable from the other ruins of more modern structures scattered nearby. A short walk up the hill leads to the church and an ancient cemetery a little further up the hill.
Ishkani or Ishkhan, is a ruined Christian monastery in the territory of Turkey in the village of Arpacık, Artvin province. It was one of the important spiritual centers in the Middle Ages Tayk/Tao-Klarjeti. Only the magnificent church and the adjacent chapel have survived. The earliest mention of the monastery is found in The Life of Grigol Khandzteli, a Georgian manuscript dating from the year 951, which is now kept in Jerusalem.
Domes were a characteristic element of the architecture of Ancient Rome and of its medieval continuation, the Byzantine Empire. They had widespread influence on contemporary and later styles, from Russian and Ottoman architecture to the Italian Renaissance and modern revivals. The domes were customarily hemispherical, although octagonal and segmented shapes are also known, and they developed in form, use, and structure over the centuries. Early examples rested directly on the rotunda walls of round rooms and featured a central oculus for ventilation and light. Pendentives became common in the Byzantine period, provided support for domes over square spaces.
The early domes of the Middle Ages, particularly in those areas recently under Byzantine control, were an extension of earlier Roman architecture. The domed church architecture of Italy from the sixth to the eighth centuries followed that of the Byzantine provinces and, although this influence diminishes under Charlemagne, it continued on in Venice, Southern Italy, and Sicily. Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel is a notable exception, being influenced by Byzantine models from Ravenna and Constantinople. The Dome of the Rock, an Umayyad Muslim religious shrine built in Jerusalem, was designed similarly to nearby Byzantine martyria and Christian churches. Domes were also built as part of Muslim palaces, throne halls, pavilions, and baths, and blended elements of both Byzantine and Persian architecture, using both pendentives and squinches. The origin of the crossed-arch dome type is debated, but the earliest known example is from the tenth century at the Great Mosque of Córdoba. In Egypt, a "keel" shaped dome profile was characteristic of Fatimid architecture. The use of squinches became widespread in the Islamic world by the tenth and eleventh centuries. Bulbous domes were used to cover large buildings in Syria after the eleventh century, following an architectural revival there, and the present shape of the Dome of the Rock's dome likely dates from this time.
Samshvilde Sioni church is a ruined medieval Christian cathedral and one of the main architectural features of the historic site of Samshvilde in Georgia's southern region of Kvemo Kartli. A centralized domed building with apsed sanctuary and pastophoria, the church was built between 759 and 777. It is now in ruins and only fragments of the eastern wall remain standing. The church is inscribed on the list of the Immovable Cultural Monuments of National Significance of Georgia.
The Dzveli Gavazi church of the Mother of God is an early medieval Christian church in the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti. It is a tetraconch with the dome positioned over the centre of the square. Exactly when Dzveli Gavazi was built is not known. The church is dated on typological grounds to the 6th century, but it was reworked with the addition of an ambulatory at a later date, probably in the 9th century, and substantially repaired in 1852. The church is inscribed on the list of the Immovable Cultural Monuments of National Significance of Georgia.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tetraconch .|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to triconch .|