Middle Ages

The cathedrals were the greatest architectural pieces of the Middle Ages. Monks were the main architects and the basic floor plan was either round, polygonal or cross shape.

In the Middle Ages, monks became the architects. They designed and oversaw the building of cathedrals for the church. Because of this, there were some cathedrals that failed. The church was the center of education and social life. In this time there was wide spread poverty and ignorance. Most people were illiterate so they couldn't read the bible. For this reason the monks would make luminated manuscripts. These were books with very detailed drawings and renderings of what the text said. This way the common people could understand the stories as well as the knowledgeable monks.

The cathedrals were the greatest architectural pieces of this time. The basic floor plan was either round, polygonal or cross shape. Great developments were made in domes. Justinian wanted a dome over a square base, so the squinch was designed followed by the pendentive. The squinch is a square base with a octagonal dome over the top. The pendentive is a dome over a square base. The Hagia Sophia and St. Marks are good examples of this new architecture. The major emphasis of the cathedrals were on the inside. Mosaics consisted of smaller than one half inch tile pieces, which made them look like paintings. The colors of the time were rich red, violet, gold and blue. They had symbolic motifs: Peacock (immortality), knots (eternity), acanthus leaves, lily and serpents.

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