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date: 23 August 2019


  • John Curran,
  • Andrew N. Palmer,
  • J. van Ginkel,
  • Francis Woodman,
  • John W. Cook,
  • Robert Ousterhout,
  • Natalia Teteriatnikov,
  • Warren Sanderson,
  • Tania Velmans,
  • Nigel J. Morgan
  •  and Doug Adams


Building for public Christian worship (see also Christianity) as well as the medieval rhetorical designation for the broader community of the Christian faithful.

As buildings churches vary from single-aisled structures divided simply by walls or screens to buildings of complicated design, based on the two fundamental types, the basilica and the centrally planned church, that are discussed below (see also Chapel, §1). Most churches are orientated, with the main axis running east–west and the ritual area at the east end; the phrase ‘liturgical east end’ used here and in other articles indicates the ritual area of a church that is not orientated.

A basilica is essentially an oblong, aisled building. The Christian basilica owed much to the secular basilicas that were used by emperors and officials of the later Roman Empire as audience halls. The latter buildings were large, rectangular structures divided into aisles and nave with an apse at one end housing the tribunal of the emperor or presiding magistrate....

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O. Schmitt and others, eds: Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte (Stuttgart, Metzler and Munich, 1937–)
Enciclopedia universale dell’arte, 15 vols (Rome, 1958–67); Eng. trans. as Encyclopedia of World Art (New York, 1959–68)