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Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine
Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

Remains of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine: the north aisle with its three concrete cross vaults.

CC Flickr User OliverN5

The Basilica of Maxentius or the Basilica of Constantine (begun by Maxentius, but finished by Constantine; hence, the two names) was the last non-Christian basilica built on the Roman forum. It was built for commercial and administrative purposes. Parts of the Velia ridge between the Esquiline and the Palatine hills had to be leveled for the basilica.

The Basilica of Maxentius was built with arches of both the barrel and groined variety, but only three of the barrel vaults remain standing. The rectangle that formed the basilica was 100×65 m, which was divided into a central nave (80×25 m) and aisles to either side. Three groined vaults (=where 2 barrel vaults intersect at right angles) covered the nave, with a maximum height of 35 m. Eight Corinthian columns 14.5 m high supported them. There may have been large windows on the upper walls of the nave (referred to as the "clerestory" or "clearstory"). Floors were marble, like the Pantheon, and the roof was covered with gilded bronze tiles.


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