Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza

Date ca. 350 CE

Movement Early Christian

Located at Rome, Italy

Circular and hexagonal structures were popular in this time, especially to serve in funerary functions, and the Christians adopted this form as well. Built for Constantine’s daughter, Constantia, the structure takes a basilican form in the round; that is, a central space under a dome and clerestory, flanked by an outer aisle or ambulatory.

Four of the colonnade arches stand taller than the other, so as to form a cross within a circle. This symbol was especially important for Constantine’s family, as it had appeared in his dreams the night before his battle with Maxentius. Costanza’s sarcophagus was originally placed under one of these elevated arches at the structure’s East.