Published on March 10, 2014
EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH ARCHITECTRURE
1) Propylaeum- the entrance building of a sacred precinct, whether church or imperial palace. 2) Atrium- the forecourt of a church; as a rule enveloped by four colonnaded porticoes. 3) Narthex- the entrance hall or porch proceeding the nave of a church. 4) Nave- the great central space in a church. In longitudinal churches, it extends from the entrance to the apse (or only to the crossing if the church has one) and is usually flanked by side aisles. 5) Aisle- one of the corridors running parallel to the nave of a church and separated from it by an arcade or colonnade.
6) Crossing- the area in a church where the transept and the nave intersect. 7) Transept- in a cruciform church, the whole arm set at right angles to the nave. 8) Apse- a recess, sometimes rectangular but usually semicircular, in the wall at the end of a Roman basilica or Christian church. The apse in the Roman basilica frequently contained an image of the Emperor and was where the magistrate dispensed laws. In the Early Christian basilica, the apses contained the "cathedra" or throne of the bishop and the altar. 9) Clerestory- a clear story, i.e. a row of windows in the upper part of a wall. In churches, the clerestory windows above the roofs of the side aisles permit direct illumination of the nave
The term early Christian architecture refers to the architecture of the early Christian churches of the roman era This is further divided into two types; the basilica church and the alternative church plans With Christianity accepted as a state religion in Rome and expanding in influence, it became necessary for architecture to respond to the space demands of the new religion A building used for Christian worship had to provide a path for the processional entry and exit of the clergy, an alter area, where the clergy celebrated mass, a space for the segregation of the clergy from congregation during the procession and communion
The architecture of the church that developed was not a completely new style, but the use of available Roman forms to satisfy a new program need The form chosen for the early church was the Roman basilica It was suitable for use as a church with no serious modification and it could be easily and rapidly built at low cost The Basilica was also preferred because of the emphasis on participation in mass. The most common form of the early churches had a rectangular hall with a timber trussed roof It also had one or two isles on each side of a central nave and an apse at one end facing the principal entrance located at the other end
Most of the early churches had clerestory lighting Clerestory windows were developed to give light to the central part of the interior Gradually, the clerestory windows became a symbol of the transcendence and grace of god
St Peter was the most important of the basilica churches built by Constantine The church has a triple entrance gate leading to an atrium The Basilica had a wooden roof of interlocking rafters The nave did not lead directly to the apse but instead ends in a transverse space that is as high as the naveThe nave terminated in a triumphal arch that framed the curve of the apse S. Peters, Rome AD 333 Some of the early churches were built over the tomb of martyrs and are known as martyrium St Peters is one of the earliest and most important of the matyrium churches It was built over what was believed to be the tomb of Saint Peter who was a disciple of Jesus
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