Page 148 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Gojko Subotić
 bays, they cover different elements of space invested with articulated meaning and function.
The real character of the whole and parts in the intri- cately designed space can be established only by observ- ing the structure and all its components, the easiest ap- proach being their analysis on diverse levels. as a matter of fact because it is divided by a multitude of supports which block the view of some of the sections, the interior does not readily expose itself to the observer, though im- pressing profoundly with the richness of forms and in- terplay of light. The spaces on all sides are open to view below the dome, depending on the height and manner in which the respective bays are vaulted. Through the arched apertures placed between piers and pillars in the east there is a large bema, the width of which is equal to the naos whose central bay carries a blind calotte. The broadest, unrestricted views from the center toward the exterior sides of the church opens to the north and south where the last segments, somewhat lower, originally had direct lateral entrances, while in the west the round-arched pas- sage allows a view of the space of the exonarthex with the groin-vaulted central section. On the upper floor above it there is a middle-sized chamber which in other episco- pal churches had the function of a katechoumena. it was reached by a stone staircase through the southern part of the wide wall between the narthex and the naos, lit by a window on the western side.
To the north and south of the naos and the altar the church had special ambulatory wings terminating in the east with the enclosed parekklesia with semi-circular aps- es. in the interior these spaces were of uneven height, vault-
ed in a different manner, and the domes at their corners were not placed at the height of the neighboring bays. With their square bases resting on relatively narrow rectangu- lar spaces they rose to a height at which they established a remarkable harmony with the central section, thus con- stituting an entity whose forms rank among the noblest in Late Byzantine architecture. The effort to repeat par- ticular forms consistently and preserve their sophisticat- ed rhythm also contributed to this. Thus, the roof over the low blind dome of the sanctuary was turned into a bar- rel-vault in order to correspond to the forms of the vaults on the other sides. it is evident that the gifted architect concentrated his attention on the plastic articulation of the edifice, not completely fulfilling the well-known tenet regarding the relationship between the interior structure and the outer appearance of the building, so that the spa- tial forms and construction elements in it became easily distinguishable from the outside. in Gračanica, the wide wall areas of the lower portion thus had shallow pilasters dividing them into well-proportioned, harmonious sur- faces, but the space behind them was designed in an ut- terly different manner.
The building material and construction techniques were typical of widespread building practices used for shrines in towns and the western provinces of the restored Byzantine empire, chiefly in the closing decades of the 13th, and the beginning of the 14th centuries. The standard use of stone, bricks and mortar reached a high degree of sophistication here, manifested in the choice of material and its adaptation to the proportions and structure of par- ticular parts. The face of the dome, the sides of the arms
Coronation of King Milutin and Queen Simonida, detail: Christ and angels bringing the crowns,
the arch between the pillars of the narthex, Gračanica, 1318–1321

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