BASILICA OF CONSTANTINE

Forum Romanum Rome 312-327 The Roman barrel vault reaches its highest expression in the Basilica of Constantine. Begun by Maxentius in 306-310, the building was completed by Constantine in 312-337. Three huge vaults on the north side remain. Each is pierced by six large windows which bring light into the building (though the center bay was closed off by Constantine and made into an apse with a huge statue of himself). The original entrance was from the arcade on the right. An apse was at the far end. A 1 20 foot groined vault supported by the aisle vaults covered the central nave. Constantine moved the entrance and shifted the axis to the center of the south wall, opposite his statue. A simple rectangular structure given monumentality through its vaulting and supporting piers, the basilica later became a model for Christian architecture. For the Romans it was a center of justice and civic affairs.

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