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Belur  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Belūr]

Indian town and temple site in southern Karnataka that flourished c. 1100–1800. The most important temple at the site is the Chhennakeshava (or Vijayanarayana) temple, the earliest example of the uniquely ornate style developed under the Hoysala dynasty. The temple was dedicated to Vishnu in 1117 by Bittiga (Vishnuvardhana) (reg c. 1106–56) in celebration of his victory over the Cholas and attainment of undisputed Hoysala independence in southern Karnataka. Within the same compound stand the Kappechhennigaraya temple, constructed by Vishnuvardhana’s queen, and many later structures, including a Vijayanagara-period gopura (towered gateway) built in 1397.

The Chhennakeshava temple stands on a wide platform opposite the gopura. The complex, star-shaped plan of the sanctum contrasts with the square, faceted plan of the multi-pillared hall (Skt navaraṅga) that precedes it. An exceptionally elaborate, nine-course moulded socle is mainly geometric above an initial frieze of elephants. The low-roofed navaraṅga, originally open on the front and sides, was closed in with the standard, richly embellished screens and doorways of the later Hoysala style (...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Australian pottery founded in 1858 by a Scot, George Guthrie (1808–1909), in the town of Bendigo, Victoria. The factory made household wares, including acid bottles, bricks, clay pipes, roof tiles and tableware. During World War I it also made portrait jugs of military commanders, and in the 1930s it made agate-ware vases that were marketed as Waverly ware. The pottery is still active, but since ...

Article

Virginia Leonardis

[anc. Beneventum]

Italian town in Campania, c. 70 km north-east of Naples. It became a Roman colony in 268 BC and was an important centre during the Roman Empire, being sited at the junction of the Via Appia with other Roman roads. Benevento contains one of the best-preserved Roman triumphal arches, the Arch of Trajan (Porta Aurea), built of Greek marble in AD 114. The arch, built across the Via Appia, features a single opening flanked by engaged Composite columns with an attic above, and it has reliefs glorifying the triumphs of Trajan together with an inscription in the attic. Other ancient remains include those of a Roman theatre built under Emperor Hadrian (reg AD 117–38) and later extended.

In the 6th century AD Benevento became the first independent Lombard duchy, and it retained its autonomy until passing to the Church in the 11th century; it was part of the Papal States until ...

Article

Berende  

Tania Velmans

Village c. 40 km north of Sofia in Bulgaria. It is famous for its Byzantine church dedicated to St Peter. Built on the edge of the River Nishava, the church has a single nave (4.50×8.50 m) and contains on the west façade fragments of a donor inscription referring to King John Asen II (reg 1218–41), during whose reign it may have been built. There is some controversy regarding the date of its paintings, which have been assigned to both the 13th and the 14th centuries. In the apse all has been lost apart from Four Bishop–Saints Officiating at the Liturgy Accompanied by Two Deacons. The Mandylion was painted on the eastern wall above the apse, between the Virgin and the Archangel of the Annunciation. The Ever-seeing Eye occupies the western niche in the prothesis, and a large bust of St Peter near the iconostasis is surrounded by a masonry frame imitating the appearance of an icon. The scenes and figures painted on the vaulting have disappeared, but part of the ...

Article

Bergamo  

Roberto Coroneo and Daniela Cucciari

[anc. Bergomum]

Italian city in Lombardy. It is situated on the Lombard plain c. 50 km north-east of Milan, at the entrance to the Brembana and Seriana valleys and below the first foothills of the Alps. The city (population c. 125,000) is divided into two parts: upper Bergamo (città alta) and lower Bergamo (città bassa), the modern city; the upper part, crowning a steep hill (h. c. 360 m), retains its 16th-century circuit of walls and many fine medieval and early Renaissance buildings.

The importance of the Bergamo region emerged only after 1000 BC, when the Po Valley became a focus of commercial travel, especially where the Piedmontese trade routes crossed with those between the valleys and the plain. A pre-urban centre was created in the Etruscan period (6th–4th centuries bc), and under Roman rule Bergamo gained the status of citizenship granted to the centres of Cisalpine Gaul (...

Article

Hans-Emil Lidén

City on the west coast of Norway.

According to the sagas, Bergen was founded by King Olaf III Kyrre (‘the Gentle’) c. 1070. There is archaeological evidence that the oldest built-up areas of the merchant town date from the first half of the 12th century. Throughout the Middle Ages, Bergen was Norway’s largest and most important town. It was the seat of a bishop, the king had his main residence there and it was a centre of trade with England and the Continent, becoming in the late Middle Ages one of the most important Hanseatic towns.

The medieval town was situated along the eastern shore of a bay known as Vaagen. The narrow strip of land between the foot of the hill and the sea was soon extended by a vast reclamation process out towards the harbour basin. Behind the quay front, which was moved at intervals further out into the sea, were built parallel rows of timber buildings, two or even three storeys high. Streets and passages ran between them up to Øvregaten (‘the upper street’), the main street of the town, aligned parallel to the shore. The medieval building pattern is preserved in similar rows of timber buildings dating from after a fire in ...

Article

Berlin  

Howard Caygill, Karl-Robert Schütze, Eva Börsch-Supan, Günther Kühne, Eberhard Roters, Brigitte Marquardt, Silvia Glaser, Martin Engel and Helmut Börsch-Supan

German city, the capital of reunified Germany since 1999, with a population of 3.5 million. Developing under Ascanian rule from the twin settlements of Berlin and Cölln on either side of the River Spree, it became the residence of the Hohenzollern rulers of Mark Brandenburg in the 15th century. From the mid-17th century three new towns—Friedrichswerder, Dorotheenstadt and Friedrichstadt—were founded outside the medieval walls, and in 1709, eight years after Berlin became the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia, the five towns were unified. Between 1871 and 1945 Berlin was the capital of the German empire. Following World War II, in which it was severely damaged, the city was politically divided: West Berlin was affiliated to the Federal Republic of Germany, East Berlin became the capital of the German Democratic Republic. The division was reinforced in 1961 by the construction of the Berlin Wall. At the demolition of the wall in ...

Article

Berne  

Hans Martin Gubler and Marcel Baumgartner

[Bern]

Capital city of Switzerland since 1848 and of the canton of Berne, situated in a loop of the River Aare where it forms a gorge. Its architecture, especially that of the old town, reflects its prosperity during the late Middle Ages and the 18th century. Berne was a strong supporter of the Reformation, which it accepted in 1528. The modern city, with a population of 145,250 (1980), is the seat of various national and international organizations.

There is evidence of Celtic and Roman settlements, but the city was founded only in the 12th century, traditionally by Herzog Berchtold V Zähringer (d 1218) in 1191 but more likely about 1155–60. As early as 1218 Berne was an Imperial city, but the nobility and townspeople took over the government c. 1400. Berne joined the Swiss Confederation in 1353, and from the 14th century to the 16th, by an astute policy of acquisitions and wars of conquest against the duchies of Habsburg, Savoy and Burgundy, it became the most important city-state between Reuss and Lake Geneva, and the largest north of the Alps, surviving until ...

Article

Colin Harrison

[anc. Vesontio]

French city, capital of the département of Doubs, with a population of c. 120,000. Besançon is encircled by an omega-shaped meander of the River Doubs and surrounded by mountains. The natural defences made it a site of great strategic importance, a fact recognized by Julius Caesar, who established his headquarters there in 56 bc to repel barbarian invaders from the province of Sequania. Emperor Augustus spent large sums of money fortifying the town, and by the time of Emperor Constantine the Great’s death (ad 337) Vesontio had become the capital of Greater Sequania. The triumphal arch known as the Porte Noire (formerly the Porte de Mars) is the most notable Roman-period monument and the only structure surviving from the forum.

Christianity, said to have been introduced to the town at the end of the 2nd century by SS Ferréol and Ferjeux, flourished and Besançon became an archbishopric in the 4th century; Archbishop ...

Article

Kirit Mankodi

[Vidisha; Vidiśā; Vidiśānagarī; Vedisā; Vessanagara]

City and temple site in Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, India, near the modern town of Vidisha. It flourished c. 3rd century bc to the 13th century ad and was the principal city of the Dasarna region in ancient times. Besnagar was established at the confluence of the rivers Betwa (Vetravati) and Bes (Vidisha). The River Bes has given the town its various names through history. Few monuments survive, but vestiges of a substantial rampart remain on the west side of the city, where it is not skirted by rivers, and numerous mounds mark the sites of abandoned habitations and prominent religious structures. Just north of the ruined city is a free-standing pillar (c. 100 bc) known as Kham Baba. The pillar bears a Brahmi inscription stating that it was set up as a Garuda pillar in honour of Vasudeva (Vishnu) by one Heliodoros, a Greek from Taxila. Foundations of an elliptical temple have been excavated near by (...

Article

Denys Pringle

[Arab. Bayt Laḥm; Heb. Bêth-Leḥem]

City on the West Bank of the River Jordan, under autonomous Palestinian control since 1995. Bethlehem lies south of Jerusalem and 777 m above sea level on a natural spur, which slopes down eastward towards the Judaean wilderness and the Jordan Valley. The village is mentioned in Genesis (xxxv.19; xlviii.7) as Ephrath, near which Rachel died and was buried; later it was the home town of the family of Ruth. It was also where David, son of Jesse, was anointed king by the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel xvi), and it was the birthplace of Jesus, during the reign of King Herod the Great (b c. 79 bc; reg 37–4 bc) (Matthew ii).

The Jewish inhabitants of Bethlehem were expelled by Hadrian (reg ad 117–38), but, according to St Jerome (c. ad 395), the location of the birth of Jesus continued to be identified with a cave to the east of the town, below a sacred grove associated with the cult of Adonis. At the time of Constantine I (...

Article

Gautam Vajracharya

[Bhadgaon; Newari Khopa; Newari Khopva; anc. Khopriṅ]

City in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, 11 km east of Kathmandu and 10 km north-east of Patan. The youngest of the three sister cities of the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur is associated with only a few inscriptions and artefacts of the Lichchhavi period (c. ad 300–c. 800). In the Transitional period (c. 800–1200) the small town grew, especially towards the west, apparently because of the opening of a new trans-Himalayan trade route. In 1147 Prince Anandadeva chose Bhaktapur as his capital (partly, it seems, to avoid power struggles in Kathmandu and Patan) and built the famous palace Tripura. Apparently the modern Bhaktapur Darbar Square originates from that early palace. From this time forward, politically as well as culturally noteworthy episodes began to occur in the previously isolated city. In the 14th century Prince Sthiti Malla (reg c. 1382–95), who ruled from Bhaktapur, gradually came to control the turbulent political situation of the valley and firmly establish his dynasty. His grandson ...

Article

Bhopal  

[anc. Bhūpāla]

Capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India. Palaeolithic tools dating from c. 600,000 to c. 50,000 bp have been found in and around Bhopal, and rock shelters in hills north-west of the city contain early historic paintings estimated to date from c. 8000 to 2500 bc. Bhopal itself was founded by Bhoja (reg c. 1020–47) in the 11th century ad, but little survives from this time apart from a few fragmentary sculptures from the 10th and 11th centuries (Bhopal, Archaeol. Mus.). Dost Muhammad Khan (d 1726), a general of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (reg 1658–1707), laid the foundations for the present city and built the Fatehgarh fort, now ruined. In the 19th century the nawabs of Bhopal built a number of palaces, fortifications, mosques and other public buildings. The most notable of these are the congreagational mosque, Jami‛ Masjid (1819–37), built by Kudsia Begum, the Moti Mosque (...

Article

V. Beridze

[anc. Gr. Pitsunda; Lat. Pitiunt]

Town on the Black Sea coast, c. 400 km north-west of Tbilisi, in the republic of Georgia. The name, in use by the early 4th century ad, derives from pichvi (Georg.: ‘pine tree’). Excavations begun in 1952 have shown that the site was settled between the late 2nd millennium bc and the early 1st bc. By the 2nd century bc a Hellenistic city had been established, and from the 2nd century ad it served as a Roman fortress, remains of which include residential, religious and commercial buildings within the stone wall, together with a water-supply system. It was a bishopric by ad 325, and remained under Byzantine control until the 780s when the west Georgian kingdom of Abkhazeti was created; the Catholicos-patriarch of Abkhazeti continued to reside there even after the decline of the united Georgian State in the 15th century. Bichvinta was under Turkish rule in the 17th–18th centuries, and became part of Russia in the early 19th century....

Article

Bidar  

George Michell

[Bīdar]

City in Karnataka, India. Once the capital of the Bahmani and Barid Shahi dynasties, it flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries. Bidar displaced Gulbarga as the capital of the Bahmani family dynasty when Shihab al-Din Ahmad (reg 1422–36) shifted his headquarters there shortly after acceding to the throne. Under this ruler, royal palaces were laid out and the fort was strengthened. Bidar’s outstanding personality and most notable builder in the second half of the 15th century was Mahmud Gawan, minister of Shams al-Din Muhammad III (reg 1463–82). After Mahmud Gawan’s murder in 1481, the Bahmani kingdom disintegrated rapidly. A former slave of Turkish origin, Qasim Barid, declared himself chief minister; his son, Amir Barid (reg 1527–43), after raising a succession of puppet rulers to the throne, established the Barid Shahi dynasty. Under Amir Barid, Bidar once again experienced prosperity, and the fort was renovated. In 1619...

Article

Bijapur  

George Michell

[anc. Vijayapura: ‘City of victory’]

City in Karnataka, India. Set in the arid tract between the rivers Bhima and Krishna, it was the capital of the ‛Adil Shahi dynasty and flourished from the late 15th century to the late 17th. Bijapur was one of the centres of Yadava power that fell to Muslim forces under ‛Ala al-Din of the Khalji dynasty in 1294. That there must have been extensive building at the site before the conquest is evident from the stone pillars and slabs from earlier structures incorporated into the city’s numerous mosques and tombs. The importance of Bijapur increased after 1347, when the Bahmani family dynasty took control of the Deccan. In the reorganization of the Bahmanid kingdom carried out in the 15th century by its chief minister Mahmud Gawan, Bijapur was constituted as a separate province with its own governor. After Mahmud Gawan’s murder in 1481, the governorship of the city fell to Yusuf ‛Adil Khan (...

Article

Bikaner  

City in northern Rajasthan, India. It was founded in ad 1488 by Rao Bhika, sixth son of Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur. Bhika’s fort (1485) outside the city’s southern wall is now in ruins but contains the royal cenotaphs: domed pavilions of sandstone and marble. A second, larger fort (Junagarh Fort) was built by Raja Rai Singh (reg 1571–1611) between 1583 and 1593. This immense complex houses palaces built between the 16th century and the early 20th. As at Jodhpur, their sandstone façades consist of lattice screens (jālīs) punctuated by projecting balcony forms. The main entry into the complex is the Suraj Pol (Sun Gate) of 1593. The palace apartments are notable for their sumptuous interiors, such as that at the Lal Niwas (late 16th century), which has floral wall paintings and lacquer doors, a ubiquitous feature at Bikaner. The Karan Mahal (1631–9...

Article

Joe Holyoak, Stephen Wildman and Timothy Schroder

English city in the west Midlands. It is the second largest city in Britain, with a population of c. 1,000,000. Originally a small medieval town, it was transformed from the 17th century into a major industrial centre after the discovery of iron and coal. It now serves as a commercial and financial centre for the surrounding industrial towns. In 1974 Birmingham was absorbed into the metropolitan county of West Midlands. The city is an important centre for the production of metalwork (see §3), and its artistic life reflects its main concerns.

From the 17th century Birmingham’s economy and growth were based on the manufacture of metal wares. The liberal traditions of the town—it had no guilds, and the apprenticeship system was only practised to a limited degree—encouraged settlers and, despite its poor location from the point of view of transport, its population expanded steadily from approximately 5,500 in ...

Article

Bishkek  

V. D. Goryacheva

[formerly Pishpek; Frunze]

Capital city of Kyrgyzstan. Located in the centre of the Chu Valley, the town was founded in 1878 as Pishpek on the site of several medieval settlements (Klyuchevskoye, Pishpekskoye, Karadzhigachskoye gorodischa), a Kokand fortress and the Russian outpost of Pishpek. In 1926 it was renamed Frunze in honour of the Red Army commander M. V. Frunze, who was born there. This industrial town, covering 12,352 ha, is divided into four administrative districts and built along a network of streets, boulevards and public gardens. The old town comprised one- and two-storey mud-brick buildings in the Russian style and single-storey pisé structures with thatched or flat adobe roofs in the style of Turkestan. The town centre was renovated from the 1930s to the 1950s, following general trends in Soviet architecture, and again in the 1960s, when high-rise residential zones were added to the south and industrial zones in the east and west. Many memorials, sculptural groups and monuments to military, political, academic, labour and literary figures were erected throughout the city. In the 1970s dilapidated buildings were replaced by multi-storey blocks, new residential quarters added and the administrative centre formed around Lenin Square (renamed Ala-Tau in ...

Article

G. Bhattacharya

[anc. Viṣṇupura]

Town in Bankura District, West Bengal, India. It flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries as the capital of the Malla rulers. Bishnupur is protected by earthen ramparts built in the second half of the 17th century by the ruler Bir Singh; two stone gateways of the old fort remain. The temples of Bishnupur, of which about 30 are preserved, have curved roofs with down-turned eaves, a form copied from the thatched huts of Bengal. As the region lacks stone, the buildings are predominantly brick and are typically decorated, both inside and out, with terracotta panels. These represent a high point of terracotta art in Bengal. As the Mallas were devotees of Vishnu, the terracottas often show events in the lives of Krishna and Rama, themes explored by contemporary Bengali authors. In addition to religious subjects, scenes from Bengali life were illustrated. Local craftsmen were evidently employed for the work; a modest community of artists still lives in the town....