Emperor Justinian 1 (Justinian the Great) Architectural Influence

December 19, 2013



My intent for writing this post is to enlighten you on what I found thought provoking about the history of Justinian the Great, specifically a look into his architectural influence during his Byzantine Empire. Read more to find out about Justinian architecture.

Before we get into the in-depth historical lens, lets first put ourselves into perspective. Think about the greatest contemporary architecture today, probably a skyscraper of some sort. Now relate this same magnitude of impressiveness to the architecture that Justinian the Great introduced to the Byzantine Empire. This is why historians love to examine pieces of history.

Justinian 1 (Justinian the Great)'s Early Life

Justinian the Great was born in Tauresium in around 482 to a peasant family. The uncle gained his initial emperor position from being in the army and moving up on rank. This uncle adopted Justinian as a boy. His uncle brought him to Constantinople, to provide him with an excellent education in jurisprudence, theology and Roman history. As Justinian's uncle was aging (he gained the emperor position at the age of 70) Justinian assisted his uncle with a de facto ruling. His uncle was also not literate, as Justinian was.

When Justinian's uncle died in 527, Justinian took the emperor position of the Byzantine Empire. Justinian was a progressive leader that changed his empire drastically, but I am only going to examine him from an architectural lens.

Justinian 1 (Justinian the Great)'s Architectural Influence (Justinian architecture)

Following the Nika Riot of 532 Justinian the Great implemented an architectural revolution of the capital city that Constantine the Great founded in 324. Justinian's architecture was primarily based off religion, with hundreds of churches palaces and fortresses. Later in history, during the Medieval times, architecture became more focused on war, with the building of castles and fortresses.

The Church of Saint Sophia/Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was the new "poster-church". The Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia states, "...the graceful rising vaults, lofty dome, and the ingenious lighting and exquisite mosaic decorations of Saint Sophia distinguished it as one of the greatest achievements of human spirit." According to Procopius, Justinian the Great said, "Solomon I have outdone thee" (in reference to the 1st Jewish temple).

RomanEmpire2 hagiasophia-12thc hagia-sophia-mosqueeye-of-the-fish-a-wide-angle-view-of-architecture-urban-design-pnd7bpbs justinian architecture justinian architecture

Justiniana Prima Justinian architecture

Justiniana Prima was a city built my Justinian that was inhabited from 535 to 615. As a honour, everyone recognized the nearby village of Tauresium, Justinian's birthplace.  It exists today as an archaeological site.

justinian architecture

In conclusion, we hope you learned more about Justinian architecture. Finally, read more articles like this on our front page. Also check more pictures out on our Instagram.

Other related term, thoughts and questions:

The emperor Justinian i can be linked to which of the following major works of architecture?

Was Justinian a great leader

Justinian the great biography

The emperor Justinian i can be linked to which of the following major works of architecture

Justinian arts and architecture

Justinian 1


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