The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Byzantine Art

What is Byzantine art?

During the fourth century, Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the empire from Rome to Byzantium (in modern-day Turkey) and named the new capital city, not immodestly, Constantinople. After the Western portion of the Roman empire fell in 476 C.E., Constantinople became the major art center of this eastern empire, which included areas of Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Eastern Europe, and portions of North Africa. The people of this Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, referred to themselves as Romanians and considered themselves the second Rome. The Empire, and especially the city of Constantinople, was immensely powerful, surviving longer than any other imperial power except for Egypt.

Byzantine art was monumental in scope, richly decorated, and influenced by both eastern and western traditions. Common forms of Byzantine art include brightly colored mosaics, icon paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and monumental architecture.


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