Aquileia Baptistery Exterior
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Aquileia (Slovene: Oglej), just north of the lagoons bordering the Gulf of Venice at the head of the Adriatic Sea, was founded as a Roman colony in 181 B.C.E. Apparently, a well established Christian community existed in Aquileia even before the Peace of Constantine (313 C.E.) because Bishop Theodore (308-319) built a large, richly decorated double basilica on the site of a Roman villa that had been used for community gatherings. Evolution of the architecture of Aquileia's church structures provides a record spanning more than twelve centuries of numerous building programs, often necessitated by war or natural disaster. Evidence suggests that the baptistery wall (shown here) was first constructed ca. late 5th C. with a square exterior shape and an interior shape designed as an octagon with four semi-circular apses filling the corners of the square, sheltering a central hexagonal immersion font under a ciborium. This core square structure was enveloped by ambulatory rooms forming a larger square. During the 9th C. the baptistery wall was rebuilt following the lines of the interior octagonal space and lopping off all but one of the apses. The arch of one of the lost apses is visible in the stone work here. ca. August 1980
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