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Orthodox Church Architecture - Essay Example

2 pages
541 words
Vanderbilt University
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The architecture of an Orthodox church comprises of a unique combination family of styles from many churches architectures. In particular, the church has the following unique shapes with each symbolizing something.

Elongated rectangle and a rounded rectangle which symbolizes the ship as a way of salvation. This is related to Noahs Ark.

Cruciform which is cross-shaped

The altar is located on the eastern side of the church while a bell tower is attached to the western side. An orthodox church has many symbolic meanings, but the most outstanding is the belief that the church is the Ark of Salvation (similar to Noahs Ark) in which the world is saved from temptation and destruction.

Apart from the features noted above, the building has three distinct parts. They include the narthex (vestibule), the sanctuary, and the nave. The narthex acts as a link between the outside world and the church. This place is dedicated to the pre-baptized Orthodox and non-Orthodox members. The Royal Doors separate the narthex from the nave. The Royal Doors are associated with Jesus passing through them and when the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire would enter the Church of Holy Wisdom through the doors and move to the altar to take the Eucharist.

The nave could be described as the main part of the church where the congregation stands during the services. In many traditional Orthodox churches, there are no seats, but rather high-armed chairs with armrests are provided for support when standing. With the exception of reading the psalms, there is no sitting during the services.

The walls of the building are covered entirely with wall paintings of icons and saints with their life stories and heroic acts described. As an Orthodox that extends the Jewish culture, men and women worship separately with men standing on the right side and women on the left side. This tendency emphasizes that all people are equal before God as depicted by the equal distance from the altar.

At the top of the nave in the dome, an icon of Jesus Christ hangs directly below the dome. While the nave of an Orthodox church can vary in the layout based on the traditions of the church, the most common layouts are the cruciform layout, open square/rectangular layout, and a liner layout with side-aisles. In this building, the nave has a rectangular layout. The rectangular layout is best suited for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

Other important parts of the building include the iconostasis and the sanctuary. The iconostasis is a wall between the nave and the sanctuary which is covered with paintings and wall hangings. On the other hand, the sanctuary is the area behind the iconostasis. Usually, this region has the altar table, the apse with the throne for the bishop, and the seats for the priests. Also, it is square in shape.

One of the primary goals of architecture is to trigger emotions. The presence of the church building in that area triggers spiritual emotions. The design and architecture of the structure are so conspicuous that everybody realizes it is a church. Typically, churches address the social, spiritual, and emotional needs of the society. By addressing these needs, it enhances the overall experience of the dwellers in the region.

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