Architecture and Imperial monuments from 200 to 600
Editor's note: the first part of this section is a straightforward historical account of Atlantean architecture till 600 evidently written by my source. To this I have appended a contemporary account of the city of Atlantis.
1. THE BUILDING TRADITIONS OF ATLANTIS BEFORE 380
The area of the future Atlantean Empire had been the scene of a number of great earlier empires, and all of these had left behind relics and ruins of their buildings. The Marossan Empire was still visible during the First Atlantean Empire in the remains of awe-inspiring stone structures, often of enigmatic, geometrical forms. In particular, tall towers were scattered about the Marossan and western Keltish areas, the remnants of religious monuments. The Dravedean and Numedean Empires were represented by the relics of more obviously functional buildings – State institutions, theatres and temples. In addition, Empires and states still in existence after 200, such as the Eliossiens, Marossans, Chalcrans and Helvrans, also had impressive buildings to their credit, superior to anything Atlantean, at least until after about 310.
Before 360, Atlantean building styles and materials were variable throughout the Empire. There were essentially three main building materials, which indigenous peoples, the old Empires, and Atlantis herself used for centuries to come, depending on geographical area. South of the Helvengio, in Manralia, the City States, Razira and the deserts, brick and mud were the usual tools of construction. In the central parts, in Atlantis, Helvris and the Lio-Marossan states, as well as the former Dravedean and North Numedean Empires, stone was more common. Finally, in the north and east, in the lands of the Kelts, and in Dravedean and some Chalcran and Ughan areas, wood was generally used. Clearly, the different cultures made use of whatever were the local resources, but sometimes Empires imported different types of materials from abroad. Stone, and sometimes marble, were always regarded as the finest materials, suitable for the grandest buildings, and examples could be seen in the monuments of the ancient empires, as well as the practice of the modern-day Helvrans and Marossans.
The earliest Atlantean architecture, of which we have any record, dates from the pre-Imperial period from about 120 to 200. This was called "Heroic" Art by later Atlantean critics (or "Fulgonuya Enscoulpha" in Atlantean), and witnesses the use of stone in grandiose and monolithic styles for religious and state buildings. After 200, there was little important change in style, but the types and numbers of large stone buildings increase, to include national and local government, and the first market-places and communal centres. The architecture remained massive, but with more decoration. There was little to distinguish Atlantean from Helvran or Chalcran architecture at this stage. This architecture, like contemporary art, was named "Communal Art" ("Saindeya Enscoulpha").
Between 300 and 360, Atlantean architecture developed rapidly, in the style called First Empire Romantic. Most important are two main influences from outside. Firstly there was Romantic fancy from some Chalcran areas; this was followed by the cool classicism of Eliossie and Marossan. The Romantic epoch was one of eclecticism, which included wild decoration in stone and wood, and grand vistas with many pillars and arches. Of course, the houses of ordinary people were little affected, except perhaps for the addition of a flight of steps at the front, or pillars round the door.
There was a turn to classicism after 350 in all the arts, and this formed the basis of Second Empire Classicism from about 380 onwards.
THE CLASSICAL ARCHITECTURE OF ATLANTIS
Classical Atlantean style was influenced strongly by the architecture of Eliossie, and its slightly debased image in Marossan. The features of this architecture were the use of undecorated stone, tall walls and porticos, and many pointed pillars and arches. In Marossan the stone was often painted pink or blue. Atlantis borrowed the simplicity and geometrical regularity of this style, but amalgamated it with her own ideas, which can be traced to the Romantic and fanciful features of the building she put up after 270. Thus pillars remained, but were mixed with rounded arches. Similarly, the geometrical flatness of the northern styles were softened by the use of curves and rounded features to buildings. After 380, the typical grand Atlantean building, a palace, State institution, monument or church, was symmetrically constructed in stone, with an imposing entrance up a flight of steps. It usually had two wings, with a curved entrance-way, made of pillars or arches with rounded tops. It often had a dome over the centre, or towers over the wings, and was usually white, with some pastel shades and patterned decoration in places. Increasing interest in landscaping led to such buildings being placed in a cultivated garden or landscape, and often several buildings would be linked together as a group.
One other feature, particularly typical of Atlantean architecture, remains to be mentioned. This was the common use of a high column at one end of a building. This was the result of religious tradition, as all Atlantean churches were originally in the open air, and when they turned to actual structures, were tall, tapering towers, open to the sky. This was to allow worshippers to commune more closely with the gods. Later, the churches were fully roofed, except for a narrow opening at the top. The feature of a tall tower was adapted and added to secular buildings, initially as a religious feature, for all the inhabitants there would collect at the foot of the tower for prayers at certain times. After about 350, towers were increasingly added to large private mansions as well as public buildings, and architects began to use them as an aesthetic feature, as much as for their religious connotations. In the typical Classical building, this tower, long and tall, as in present-day mosques, was attached to the side of the building. Usually it was entered from the roof of the main building, and a sort of small room joined on to the tower, allowing access into it for a few people, at the level of the main building’s roof. The tower had a small opening at the top, but after 450 or so, it was only actually used for worship by very religious families.
ROMANTIC AND LATER SECOND EMPIRE STYLES
After about 480, that same Romantic movement, which swept through all the arts, also affected architecture. The result was buildings with more decoration and colour, and more flowing lines. Whereas in Classical buildings, everything was symmetrical, with two wings, and a circular, pillared, central entrance, now the wings were often curving, with domes above them. Pillars, which might appear anywhere around the building, were given pointed, rather than round arches after about 510. As Romanticism became more extreme later in the sixth century. Large buildings became increasingly fantastical and "baroque", in the sense of European architecture of our seventeenth century. Domes multiplied and were given pointed tops, and the size of palaces or large mansions grew all the time, surrounded by fantastic landscaped gardens. Similar buildings were also constructed for the perfomance of Total Works of Art, those Romantic amalgamations of music, drama, dance, architecture and landscape, which became so popular in this period. To our eyes, such buildings would appear like imaginary fantasies of Eastern or Indian palaces.
At the same time as these developments for the large buildings of the aristocracy and well-off landowners, the housing of ordinary, Class 3 and 4 people became more utilitarian, with the increasing use of brick, covered with plaster or stucco. Exterior patterning and decoration were also applied liberally over the surfaces of these houses. The first blocks of flats appeared for lower-class citizens, two or three stories high. This style became universal in Republican areas after 590, and the grand architecture of the wealthy was either demolished or abandoned. In Imperialist areas, fantastical Romanticism also disappeared, and was replaced by square, defensive-looking, militarised buildings, forbidding and austere, and made of stone. After the establishment of the Third Empire, the two strands, Republican and Imperialist, coalesced, and produced smaller, softer buildings, made of brick, but with stone or plaster cladding.
An example of the fortress-like architecture of the Imperialists, c600
ATLANTEAN ARCHITECTURE REFLECTED IN THE IMPERIAL PALACES
We can illustrate the foregoing styles of architecture by looking briefly at the four Imperial Palaces, built between the mid 200s and the mid 500s.
2. A CONTEMPORARY’S VIEW OF THE CITY OF ATLANTIS IN 542
[There follows a description of Atlantis, as included in a longer letter sent by one Fulgon Puainos to his wife and family in 542. Fulgon had travelled to Atlantis for the first time in 542 from his home town of Yemdir, in the Province of Yallandix Thissaindix, in order to attend the annual interviews and examination of candidates from Regional Councils for entry as a Councilman in the Great Council. Fulgon apparently spent several weeks in Atlantis, as after he was successfully nominated as a Councilman, he had to find somewhere in the city for his family to live. As was often the case in the romantic period, the first person was used as here translated, rather than the classical usage of the third person throughout. Occasional editorial comments have been added in brackets.]
I shall now give you my first impressions of this city, which has overwhelmed me with its size and grandeur. Where shall I begin? I’ll start at the seafront, by the harbour. If I look out to sea here, with my back to the city, I have in front of me the great harbour, teeming with all sizes of boats and cargoes – people as well. Some way out to sea is Atlano Mandegio (Atlantis island), which I believe is occupied by religious communities. To the south, the shore curves outwards, but is full of buildings of all sorts, almost as far the eye can see. The main one there, about 2 miles from where I am supposed to be standing now, is the University of Atlantis, which was founded by the Great Atlaniphon himself.(The Great Atlaniphon always refers to Atlaniphon I).
Looking toward Atlano Mandengio at sunset.
I’ll turn to my right now, facing northwards up the coast, and again I see a mile or more of old houses, all looking as though they were built in the First Empire.(These were the original houses owned by the earliest nobility of the First Empire, now long since taken over and divided up by lower class people). In the distance I see a green and wooded hill looming over the breakers of the water, and inland a little way, out of sight here, but previously visited by myself and other colleagues, is the old Palace, with its large pleasure-grounds stretching inland.
Now I’ll turn right round, and pretend to walk eastwards into the town. I first walk through the oldest part of the town, with small stone or wood built houses, a market, and some ancient temples, and a small, half-ruined castle on a hill. After half a mile, the city opens out, and becomes much grander and wider. I now see monuments, statues, temples, and large houses, all of stone or marble, but still somehow antique in appearance. In fact I know that all this area is still the old city, as it was in the First Empire, although quite a few of the oldest buildings have since been knocked down, and rebuilt more recently. Particularly impressive is the massive statue of the Great Atlaniphon, erected by Atlaniphon II in 420. The main road now splits into two, and first I shall take the Marossaraita, which eventually leads all the way north to Marossan. I see the Great Library of Siphirix ahead, which has been recently refurbished, and looks from the outside like the most modern building. Then to the left, also thanks to Siphirix, is the Great Council edifice itself, where I hope I shall soon be sitting – if only I have passed the tests I took yesterday! This is a strange building to look at – though very impressive, of course -, because the oldest part, now the Council of Nobles, looks small and quaint beside the huge block of the Great Council itself. The part that is now the Council of Nobles was in fact the Great Council in Siphirixo's time, but more recently, it became too cramped, and the magnificent new building was put up by the Great Atlaniphon.
I must stopping going on like this about the Council – anyone would think I was already a member of it, and showing off my knowledge of its history to some new candidate or tourist! Further on up the Marossaraita I reach the huge houses of the nobility, with their great gardens. I think that these are not generally lived in by the real old nobility, who have moved out to estates in the east of the Empire, and of course we are seeing a number of them appearing even in our own Province of Yall Thiss now. These older houses are actually now in the hands of Class 3s like ourselves, though much better off than we are at present, of course!(Some were also occupied by the "nouveaux riches and parvenus" Class 1 and 2s, though most of these preferred country estates further east in Atlantis and Atlantidieh Provinces). Here also is the statue of Atlaniphon III, put up by the Emperor. Thildo I.
I’ll now retrace my steps, and take the road which leads out of Atlantis to the east, the Cennraita. Again I approach a quarter of noble old houses, which were formerly lived in by the well-off, but are now occupied by ordinary people like ourselves. I think this might be a good area for me to find a house for us – oh, if I pass my exams, I mean! This area is overlooked to the south by a large fort, and to the north by Cao-Melion’s Memorial to the casualties of the Great Helvran War – it is a massive stone oblong, with a frieze of simply-carved Atlantean soldiers of that period defeating their Helvran enemies. It is quite worn away in parts, unfortunately. Further up the road, which climbs gradually up a hill, the road is dominated by the statue to Atlaniphon II, which, according to what I read on it, was put up only recently, by the Emperor Atlanicerex. It is the biggest of all the statues I have seen, showing the Emperor on military uniform and pointing eastwards, no doubt symbolising his war against the Ughans. I notice that there are garlands around this statue, and an old man there told me that they were placed there by the citizens of Atlantis at the end of our recent war with the Ughans. I think our present Emperor has certainly matched the achievements of Atlaniphon in the wars, and also feel it would have been more appropriate if he had put up such a statue, not Atlanicerex.(Here Fulgon is referring to the Third Ughan War of 536-9; he also is expressing some antipathy to Atlanicerex, who was of course defeated in the Civil War by the Emperor Crehonerex I, still on the throne in 542). On I walk, passing ancient temples and more houses, until I arrive at the massive defensive wall recently put up round Atlantis, as so many other towns. If I pass through the gate, I see the open countryside beyond, though to my left, houses are already in evidence outside the wall. At this rate, a new wall will have to be built soon, to enclose these new buildings. (As indeed happened in the 560s).
I must return to the city now, and end my imaginary wanderings. I hope my words have given you all some idea of what Atlantis looks like. It is the of course the biggest town in the whole Empire, although I suppose Cennatlantis may eventually overtake it, as that is where the Emperor and the government spend more and more of their time. Even the Council has its autumn sittings there, of course…