Age of Justinian
SS. Sergius and Bacchus
San Vitale, Ravenna
Comnenian and Paleologan periods
The Byzantines were in the process of purifying Christianity from its multiple divisions, creating and establishing the norms on which the fusion of religious and imperial power rested. New architectural forms were developed using brick domes, concrete by this time having been forgotten. Hagia Sophia was the most ambitious and splendid architectural accomplishment of the age. Though the Byzantines were the dominant force in the Mediterranean, they had to negotiate with powerful invaders from the north, some of whom, like Theodoric, set up a Christian-styled kingdom in Italy based in Ravenna. Rome and further north in Europe were at this time little more than a hinterland, with religious ideas there beginning to be developed based on the mysticism that would eventually distinguish Western Europe from the cultural and philosophical domination from the east.
The Byzantine empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to Byzantium. Byzantium, "New Rome", was later renamed Constantinople and is now called Istanbul. The empire endured for more than a millennium, dramatically influencing Medieval and Renaissance era architecture in Europe and, following the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, leading directly to the architecture of the Ottoman Empire.