|King Roger II of Sicily being crowned by Christ. (Wikipedia)|
Several churches in Palermo have remarkable murals by Byzantine artists
that were hired by the Norman kings of Sicily in the eleventh century.
|Interior of Monreale Cathedral. Monreale is near Palermo. (Wikipedia)|
|The Emperor Justinian and his retinue, San Vitale Basilica, Ravenna. (Tripadvisor)|
|Mosaic: "Noah Releasing the Dove," Saint Mark's Cathedral, Venice. (Wikipedia)|
In Saint Mark's, there's an entire series of murals illustrating the story of Noah, which I found incredibly impressive.
|Mosaic from the Chora Church, Istanbul. This is an amazing little church far from the center of the city. (Wikipedia)|
Some parts of the church are also decorated with frescos.
An Extremely Brief History
|Mosaic depicting the Emperor Constantine. (Wikipedia)|
At the time, "Barbarians" from northern Europe had taken over much of the Italian peninsula including Rome. However, emperors based in Constantinople continued to rule a substantial part of the empire, including the areas now belonging to Greece, to parts of current Turkey, to Sicily, and to other cities in Italy. Based on ancient Roman traditions, the Byzantines developed unique art and culture during their 1000 year existence. In particular, Roman mosaic art, which had largely been secular, developed into a new and rather different type of Christian art during the long Byzantine era -- as illustrated above.
In 1453, after a long series of territorial losses, the final defeat of Byzantium/Constantinople ended the empire. The Ottoman Turks took over the city and renamed it Istanbul. In the growing Ottoman Empire, Islam became the dominant religion. Though the rulers never prohibited Christian worship, the most famous Byzantine murals, those of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, were covered over by plaster soon after the takeover. The building was converted from a church to a mosque where representative art was prohibited. Today this remarkable building is neither a church nor a mosque, but is kept open as a monument to art and history. I fear that its integrity as a work of art may be endangered by current religious nationalism in Turkey.
For more worldwide murals see the weekly post Monday Murals at Colorful World.