ABSTRACT

Some written records yield invaluable evidence for the experience of religious space in Byzantium. Correctly interpreted, they reveal the various ways in which churches were perceived by different authors. They also help to visualise monuments that have now disappeared or been reduced to amorphous masses of mortar, brick and rubble. However, reconstructing the form of a church long after its loss on the basis of written records is not as easy as it seems. Nor is it always possible to distinguish those particular elements within a written testimony that reflect a particular point of view, and the subjective character of experience. Indeed, in some cases, the records are scanty or non-existent; on other occasions, they seem to speak an enigmatic language. There are many instances when literary sources give distorted accounts of architectural forms, which are in conflict with archaeological evidence. Worse, sometimes historic documents seem to contradict each other, presenting us with unsurpassable dilemmas.1