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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/458

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Part II.


The church at Torcello, in the Venetian Lagune, is the last example it will be necessary to quote in order to make the arrangements of the

292. Plan of Church at Torcello. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

Romanesque basilicas intelligible. It was originally erected in the seventh century; and though altered, perhaps to some extent rebuilt, in the first year of the eleventh century, it still retains much of the arrangement and character of the original edifice—few churches probably possess the old arrangements in such completeness as this, or impress the beholder with an air of greater antiquity. The whole width of the church is 71 ft. internally by 125 in length. One of its most striking peculiarities is the disproportional width of the central, as compared with the side aisles, the latter being only 7 ft. wide. A screen of six pillars divides the nave from the sanctuary. Perhaps, however, the most interesting part of this church is the interior of its apse, which still retains the bishop's throne, surrounded by six ranges of seats for his presbytery, arranged like those of an ancient theatre. It presents one of the most extensive and best preserved examples of the fittings of the apse, and gives a better idea of the mode in which the apses of churches were originally arranged than anything that is to be found in any other church, either of its age or of an earlier period.

Like Sta. Pudentiana (Woodcut No. 282) and Parenzo, this church possesses a small side chapel, a vestry or sanctuary, on the Gospel side of the altar, and the remains of a very perfect baptistery may still be traced in front of the west door. This was a square block, externally, measuring 37 ft. each way; internally an octagon, with the angles cut in hemispherical niches. In the rear of the church stood the campanile, and across a narrow passage the conventual buildings; in front of which now stands the beautiful little church of Sta. Fosca, the whole making up a group of nearly unrivalled interest considering its small dimensions.

Other examples might be quoted differing in some slight respect from those just given, but the above are probably sufficient to explain the general arrangements of the early basilican churches and the style of their architecture, so long as it remained pure Romanesque; in other words, so long as it continued in Italy to be a direct deduc-