After the collapse of the Roman Empire, nearly all architectural development came to an end in Europe. Construction after this time was determined by practical need and chiefly limited to houses of worship. Churches of this time were small, undemanding structures and it wasn't until the 8th century that the influence of the Byzantine Empire brought back some creativity. Subsequent to Byzantine came Carolingian architecture in the 9th and 10th centuries. This finally brings us to the time period of Romanesque Architecture, 11th and 12th centuries, where we find the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, Italy, and the Durham Cathedral in Durham, England. In this essay, similarities and differences between these two regionally contrasting buildings will be presented. .
In these two cathedrals, we find similarities all around. First, each were built with the intention of housing an important religious figure. San Marco was built to deify the body of St. Marco, which had been transferred from Egypt, while Durham had been built to house the 7th cent. Bishop of Lindisfarne, St. Cuthbert. Also at the crypt at Durham is the tomb of Bede, the so-called first English historian and St. Oswald, the warrior king. Secondly, these great buildings are highly decorated with detail. The walls and domes of San Marco have highly gilded mosaics which depict stories and episodes from the St Cuthbert's Tomb .
Old and New Testament. The walls and columns at Durham showcase great detail of the Apostles. Wall décor at both locations bring local flavor to the interior walls with San Marco bringing Byzantine and Durham bringing local English indigenous decoration. .
The mosaic ceiling at San Marco Cheveron ornamented column at Durham.
Finally, these two buildings have relativity in bulkyness. Durham uses very thick columns to support its nave structure while San Marco uses massive corner piers to support its five domes.