History of Medieval Arabic and Western European domes
The early domes of the Middle Ages, particularly in those areas recently under Byzantine control, were an extension of earlier practice. The domed church architecture of Italy from the sixth to the eighth centuries followed that of the Byzantine provinces and, although this influence diminishes under Charlemagne, it continued on in Venice, Southern Italy, and Sicily. Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel is a notable exception, being influenced by Byzantine models from Ravenna and Constantinople. The Dome of the Rock, an Umayyad Muslim religious shrine built in Jerusalem, was designed similarly to nearby Byzantine martyria and Christian churches. Domes were also built as part of Muslim palaces, throne halls, pavilions, and baths, and blended elements of both Byzantine and Persian architecture, using both pendentives and squinches. The origin of the crossed-arch dome type is debated, but the earliest known example is from the tenth century at the Great Mosque of Córdoba. In Egypt, a ""keel"" shaped dome profile was characteristic of Fatimid architecture. The use of squinches became widespread in the Islamic world by the tenth and eleventh centuries. Bulbous domes were used to cover large buildings in Syria after the eleventh century, following an architectural revival there, and the present shape of the Dome of the Rock's dome likely dates from this time.Christian domes in Romanesque church architecture, especially that of the Holy Roman Empire, are generally octagonal on squinches and hidden externally within crossing towers, beginning around 1050. An example is the church of San Michele Maggiore in Pavia, Italy. St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, with its five domes on pendentives modeled on the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles, was built from 1063 to 1072. Domes on pendentives, apparently based upon Byzantine models, appear in the Aquitaine region of France after the beginning of the Crusades in 1095, such as the abbey church of Fontevrault, where Richard the Lionheart was buried. A series of centrally planned churches were built by the Knights Templar throughout Europe, modeled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with the Dome of the Rock at their Temple Mount headquarters also an influence. Distinctive domes on pendentives were built in Spain during the Reconquista. Also built there were Christian crossed-arch domes similar to that of the earlier Great Mosque of Córdoba, such as at Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Torres Del Río. Gothic domes are uncommon due to the use of rib vaults over naves, and with church crossings usually focused instead by a tall steeple, but there are examples of small octagonal crossing domes in cathedrals as the style developed from the Romanesque. The dome of Florence Cathedral was a result of the expansion plans for that church from the 14th century, a part of efforts in Tuscany to build domes with exposed external profiles.The muqarnas dome type may have originated in Abbasid Iraq as single brick shells of large squinch-like cells, but it was popular in North Africa and Spain with more intricate cell patterns in stucco on an wooden inner shell. Two outstanding examples from the Moorish palace of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, are the 14th century Hall of the Abencerrajes and Hall of the two Sisters. In 14th century Egypt, the Mamluks began building stone domes, rather than brick, for the tombs of sultans and emirs and would construct hundreds of them over the next two and a half centuries. Externally, their supporting structures are distinguished by chamfered or stepped angles and round windows in a triangular arrangement. A variety of shapes for the dome itself were used, including bulbous, ogee, and keel-shaped, and included carved patterns in spirals, zigzags, and floral designs. Bulbous minarets from Egypt spread to Syria in the 15th century and would influence the use of bulbous domes in the architecture of northwest Europe, having become associated with the Holy Land by pilgrims. In the Low Countries of northwest Europe, multi-story spires with truncated bulbous cupolas supporting smaller cupolas or crowns became popular in the sixteenth century.