The domed building – a bavarian pantheon (1)

An impressive feature of Mellinger's monumental building is the shape of the dome, still in its original form and reminiscent of the Roman Pantheon. Coffers are arranged in six concentric circles which meet at the final seventh step at the vertex of the dome. This is sealed by a rosette in the form of a sun radiating rays. This coffer arrangement harks back to early Christian symbolism of numbers. The sacred number seven is possibly meant to suggest creation and eternity to the visitor. Domed and coffered ceiling

(4) Domed and coffered ceiling
The model for all these domed buildings, the Pantheon in Rome, had been in use since 27 B.C. (Marcus Agrippa) as a temple consecrated to all the Gods. In 608/610 A.D. it was converted into a Christian church (St. Mary of the Martyrs) by Pope Boniface IV and became a place of monotheistic worship. It served initially as a place of internment for Christian martyrs but later on eminent artists and Italian kings were also laid to rest here. Since the Renaissance the Roman Pantheon has come to be regarded as the model for the architecture of many significant European halls of fame. In the Roman Pantheon sunlight was perceived and utilized as "the great governor". The casting of shadows served to determine the time and divide up the day during the equinox. Mellinger adopted this idea and aligned his domed building with the four points of the compass putting 24 coffers in each circle of coffers (24 hours).

Cosmati floor Italian style  - Please click to enlarge (58 KB) As a counterpart to the vaulted ceiling in the 32 metre high Hall of Fame, Mellinger had a costly decorated tiled marble pavement laid with neo-Cosmati encrustation using different materials (Italy, Austria, Belgium, Bavaria) in the style of the Cosmati which derives from a marble craftsman called "Cosmas" who presumably went to Rome from Byzantium.
(7) Cosmati floor Italian style *
One group of architects and interior designers whose inscriptions often contained the name "Cosmas" and who were working between the 12th to the 14th century, were skilled in integrating small inlay work of coloured marble in walls, floors, columns etc (encrustation). Their new technique became known as the "Cosmati work".
He may have got the idea for this on his travels in Italy in 1903 which took him to Florence, Ravenna, Bologna and Venice among other places.
It is still possible to see the similarities between the Cosmati floors in a number of Italian churches, and certain parallels can be drawn between the Cosmati floor in the domed hall with its cruciform arrangement of five circles linked by a winding frieze. The sun at the centre of the Cosmati floor has twelve rays of light symbolising day and twelve dark rays symbolising night. Four further connected circles represent the four points of the compass but also the four winds as symbols of the world.
circa 1910 - Please click to enlarge (58 KB) 1910 - 1993 estored domed building - Please click to enlarge (50 KB)
(6) Hall of Fame circa 1910, Royal Garden's (Hofgarten) side with a statue of the Prince Regent and royal busts. * from 1910 to 1993
(an animation)
(5) restored domed building, north side *
The Cosmati floor is bordered by colonnaded arcades supported by 12 red marble pillars (composite capitals made up of Ionic and Corinthian elements) in each direction. The number 12 could represent the 12 apostles, the very beginning of the Christian community. The ornamental cast iron banisters of the staircase between the vestibule and the domed hall, richly decorated with fish and horn of plenty symbols, completes the portrayal of three-dimensional unity and the early Christian concept of the cosmos represented by the four elements, water (fish), earth (horn of plenty), fire (the sun in the domed hall) and air (the four circles in the domed hall – the 4 winds).
Composite capital   - Please click to enlarge (40 KB) Decorative cast iron banisters  - Please click to enlarge (61 KB)
(9) Composite capital embodying Ionic and Corinthian elements * (8) Decorative cast iron banisters with fish and horn of plenty symbols *
Mellinger elaborately incorporated into his domed building the symbolic notion of creation, the human condition and space and time held by people of medieval times, similar to the way it was portrayed in early Italian architecture. He also succeeded in integrating architecturally the early Christian idea of the cosmos consisting of three different worlds: the lantern symbolising the upper cosmos, (Civitas dei – paradise), below this the domed hall, the middle cosmos (Civitas terrae – City of the World) and the lower cosmos, the crypt which was planned but not built, (Civitas mortuorum and also Civitas diaboli – City of Mortals).

(*: Please click on the picture to enlarge! )

table of contents
table of contents
the domed building (2)
the domed building (2)