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#1 Reader Luke

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:54 PM

In the Orthodox Church, we've had many elements of our church architecture that we've lost over the centuries. Or we have simply re-purposed them, or moved them. I'd like to write a little bit about some of them.

 

The Atrium (aka the courtyard or forecourt):

 

An element we don't see too much anymore in modern Orthodox church architecture is the atrium, but it used to be pretty common amongst churches in the East & West.

 

Few churches still retain the original atriums, which often had a fountain in the middle. However, some Eastern Orthodox churches retain that fountain, especially those converted to mosques, as the Muslims would use the existing fountains as part of their rituals prior to entering the mosque.

 

 

St. Peter's Basilica probably is the most famous example of an atrium, which, along with the old church, was completely demolished for the new basilica.

Seen here in this drawing from the mid 1400s is the old St. Peter's Basilica, and you can see the atrium in the foreground:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia...Pietro_1450.jpg

 

Another example of such atriums would be just a short jog from St. Peter's at St. Clement's church in Rome:

Flickr: http://www.flickr.co...37730/lightbox/

 

Yet another Western example can be found in Milan at St. Ambrose's Church.

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia...mbrogio0002.jpg

 

Also, for an Eastern example, we have Hagia Irene in Constantinople/Istanbul, just in the shadow of Hagia Sophia, which also had a large atrium.

Panoramio: http://www.panoramio.../photo/95655924

 

Here is a reconstruction of Hagia Sophia with it's large atrium: http://www.byzantium....com/hagia.html

 

Several existing Eastern churches used to have atriums, which are now gone. Examples of this would be Hagia Sophia and the Church of Acheiropoietos in Thessaloniki, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and Holy Resurrection in Jerusalem (in the previous constructions).

 

There are many examples in the East that we have of church ruins with atriums. Such as the cathedral in Justiniana Prima (Serbia), several of the basilicas in Philippi, St. Leonidas in Corinth, a basilica in Nikopolis (near Preveza, Greece) and the basilica of St. John in Ephesus.

 

Many mosques in the Muslim world, especially those which copied Byzantine architecture, also have atriums almost exactly like their Christian counterparts. A prominent example would be the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, which sits just south of Hagia Sophia. It's courtyard is seen in this photo:

https://en.wikipedia...ueCourtyard.jpg


Edited by Devin B., 04 September 2013 - 06:04 PM.


#2 Reader Luke

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:22 PM

The Fountain:

 

Found within the atrium of many old Christians churches would have been a fountain. Remnants of this can be found amongst Roman Catholic Churches, where faithful will often dip their hand in the water prior to crossing themselves upon entering the church. The influences of this could probably be found in the Islamic practice of ritual washing upon entering a mosque.

 

I'm unsure about Orthodox practice, and if there was a ritualistic connection to the fountain sitting in the atrium, but this existed even in the East.

 

Examples of extant fountains in the East can frequently be found. Some might be from the Muslims repurposing the churches into mosques, whereas others may still exist despite the atriums having been demolished.

 

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul had a very large fountain, which has now been lost along with the atrium, and may sit in pieces in the yard around Hagia Sophia.

 

St. Demetrios, St. Panteleimon and St. George in Thessaloniki retain their fountains. I am not sure if their fountains date from the Turkish period or prior, but they are in the appropriate spots for Orthodox Churches at the time of their construction.

 

The fountain of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki: http://www.panoramio.../photo/95750771

 

The fountain of St. Panteleimon in Thessaloniki: http://www.panoramio.../photo/95750767

 

The fountain of St. George Rotunda in Thessaloniki: http://www.panoramio.../photo/95750563

 

A digital reconstruction of Hagia Sophia's fountain from the Byzantium 1200 project: http://www.byzantium...agiaatrium3.jpg



#3 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:37 PM

Looks interesting Devin, I look forward to you posting about more of them. We are hoping to include an atrium when we, God willing, build our new church I'm not sure about a fountain though.

 

In Christ.

Daniel,



#4 Reader Luke

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:40 PM

The Exo/Esonarthex & Porch:

 

Many ancient Christian churches had more than one narthex, sometime even including a porch. In most modern Orthodox Churches, only one narthex can be found.

 

Probably the most famous example of two narthexes in Orthodox architecture would be the Chora Church in Istanbul. The Saviour in Chora Church originally only had one narthex, but was added to at a later time, having an additional narthex added.

 

As you can see in this plan: https://en.wikipedia...912_fig_105.jpg

The Chora Church had an additional narthex, and side chapel added to it. It also remains one of the best examples of late Byzantine iconography, which completely fills both the inner and outer narthexes.

You can find photos of it's inner narthex here: https://commons.wiki..._(Chora_Church)

And of it's outer narthex here: https://commons.wiki..._(Chora_Church)

 

Most modern Greek churches lack the atrium mentioned above, but they retain the porch, and you will step from the porch into the narthex, and then into the nave itself. Also, Greek churches vary with having a porch that is on the front, with porches that wrap around the entire church.

Here are a few examples of modern Greek Church with porches...

St. Kosmas of Aetolia in Volos: http://www.panoramio.../photo/52573694

St. Nektarios of Aegina on Aegina with a multi-level wrap-around porch: http://www.flickr.co...osk/4823475355/

 

That could be many reasons for multiple narthexes. First of all, you can fit more people into a church with multiple aisles and narthexes. Also, a practical purpose would be a technique used by many modern theaters and performance spaces, where it is considered bad practice to force people into darkness immediately from being in daylight, so you are gradually phased into darker and darker spaces to allow your eyes time to adjust. Having a porch, and two narthexes allows someone to adjust to the darkness that became common in most Orthodox Churches.

Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki is an example where you move immediately from the outside to the narthex and then nave, which are both extremely dark. Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki illustrates when Orthodox architecture first started moving away from large, brightly lit basilicas to smaller, more intimate and dark cross-in-square churches (as it is somewhere between the two types).

 

With today's requirements, a porch with an esonarthex and exonarthex could serve as sort of coatrooms and a place to catch any mud or water from people entering during rain or snow. It could also potentially add additional space for restrooms, which are requirement for public buildings in the United States.

 

Spiritually, the whole progression from atrium, to porch, to exonarthex, to esonarthex, to nave, to solea, to sanctuary helps to emphasize the progression from birth to death, from earth to heaven. It also further connects our churches to the ancient prototype of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had a roughly similar progression.

 

Multiple narthexes, or one large narthex also allowed some churches to fit more people there in the days when catechumens were still dismissed, and the penitent were still kept in the narthex for the whole service.


Edited by Devin B., 04 September 2013 - 06:45 PM.


#5 Reader Luke

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 07:10 PM

The Ambo:

Also known as the ambon, pulpit, bema or rostrum.

The ambo was originally a sort of pulpit that would have been elevated and set in the middle of the nave, underneath the dome, or slightly in front of the solea.

Most Orthodox Churches still have an ambo, but in many cases, such as in Slavic Churches, the ambo is synonymous with the solea, being a projected space from in front of the Royal Doors on the iconostasis. In most Greek Churches, the ambo is set to the side, and is still an elevated pulpit.

However, as mentioned, the ambo was originally set in or near the center of the church. In big churches such as Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a low wall ran from the templon (iconostasis) to the ambo on both sides forming a sort of elevated walkway to it.

Here is an example of an ancient ambo that sits outside of Hagia Sophia, having been restored by the Turkish government:
https://en.wikipedia...agia_Sophia.png

Here is a photo of a modern Greek ambo that sits to one side (usually the north):
https://en.wikipedia...Greek_Ambon.png

The ambo is the Christianization of the Jewish and Ancient Greek bimah (the word bema is also used for this element). It would often be where the homily was given, and was most commonly where the Gospel &/or Epistle would be read. When you read in your Liturgy Books the "Prayer before the Ambo", interestingly, even in many Slavic Churches where the ambo is considered in front of the Royal Doors, the Priest will still walk out to the middle of the church, where the ancient ambo would have stood, and where this prayer would be read.

A few examples from an article written by Fr. John Peck of the OCA: http://preachersinst...art-2-the-ambo/

Here is an ancient Byzantine painting of clergy on an ambo:
http://preachersinst...10/09/amvon.png

A drawing of the ancient templon with the low wall running to the ambo from the royal doors:
http://preachersinst.../churchambo.png

A very large ambo found at the Byzantine Museum in Thessaloniki:
http://preachersinst...mbosalonica.png
Interesting to note in that photo, in the corner of the room, you can see a couple preserved examples of very early stained glass found in Greek churches.

A large 5th Century ambo still in it's traditional location at Kalambaka, Greece:
http://preachersinst...mbakagreece.png

Edited by Devin B., 04 September 2013 - 07:21 PM.


#6 Reader Luke

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 09:12 PM

The Ciborium:

 

This is another example of an element lost to most Orthodox Churches, but still present in most major Roman Catholic Churches. The ciborium is a large tent-like structure built on four pillars and sits above the altar in the sanctuary of a church. Ancient ciborium often had curtains around them which could be drawn shut, concealing the altar from view. Sometimes these were built as permanent structures over the relics/death sites of martyrs and around which a church would be built. Other times they were placed inside a church over the altar.

 

Ciborium would often act as a sort of protection for an altar and, at least in early Eastern Churches, a vessel that would hold the pre-sanctified gifts would be hung from the ciborium.

 

The ciborium acts as a beacon, drawing attention to the altar, and represented also the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ. It and the altar recall the ark of the covenant and the ancient tabernacle.

 

Most Eastern ciborium had a dome on top, and candles would be hung from the ciborium.

 

Though they had curtains, it seems they shed their curtains as the templon and iconostasis became more common and solid.

 

There are still a few existing examples of ciborium in the East, but many more examples in the West.

 

A ciborium in the Euphrasian Basilica in Istria, Croatia: https://en.wikipedia...iusBasilika.jpg

 

A ciborium in a church in Paros: http://iconreader.fi...hurch-paros.jpg

 

St. Nicholas Church in Myra has the columns of the ciborium that are still standing.

 

More information on ciborium here: https://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Ciborium_(architecture)



#7 Reader Luke

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 09:19 PM

Looks interesting Devin, I look forward to you posting about more of them. We are hoping to include an atrium when we, God willing, build our new church I'm not sure about a fountain though.

 

In Christ.

Daniel,

 

Good your you guys! As someone who loves architecture, I really wish more modern Orthodox Churches would try to incorporate some of these elements. Because some of them (like ciborium, central ambo and the fountain) are basically furniture, I don't see why it couldn't be done. 

 

I also wouldn't classify it as "restorationism" either, because architecture usually always tries to incorporate or improve old styles and elements. Some of these elements are still in use as well, but mainly in rural, ancient churches in Greece.



#8 Alice

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 01:21 PM

Thanks for sharing all these posts, links, and information! :)

 

Many of these architectural details are still used in Greek churches here in the U.S and in Athens.: the Ambo, the Porch, and even the fountain!

 

I wonder if the fountain served a practical purpose for washing up or cooling off before entering church--in the hot, dusty days of Greek summer in a society that did not have indoor bathing and showering, any element of water would have been refreshing.

 

The ciborium does remind one mostly of Roman Catholic churches and I have never seen one in modern use due to the element of the iconostasis. I suppose its presence in Orthodoxy was when there was influence between East and West in the pre schism Church. Of course the most famous one that comes to mind is the one in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome/Vatican.

 

The Ambo can be seen in many mosques, and I wonder if the Muslim conquerors borrowed the element from the Orthodox. :huh:



#9 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 02:32 PM

If you mean "borrowed" as in "literally stolen" since many of those mosques were originally conquered Orthodox churches to begin with.

#10 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 03:08 PM

Muslims had no architectural style of their own to begin with and they were content to adapt local styles wherever they were.  Substantial mosques were built in a variety of styles from Iran (as at Isfahan) to Spain (as at Cordoba) from the 8th century onwards.  By the time Constantinople was taken (1453), various Muslim styles of architecture had evolved over the intervening seven centuries, in particular the 'stalactite' style in roofs and ceilings.  Even so, the Muslims copied the style of Aghia Sophia as in the Blue Mosque.  But by no means is all mosque design copied from Orthodox churches.

 

The bimah of the synagogue, the ambo of the church (eastern and western) and the minbar of the mosque are all in common.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 05 September 2013 - 03:19 PM.


#11 Alice

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 03:30 PM

The bimah of the synagogue, the ambo of the church (eastern and western) and the minbar of the mosque are all in common.

 

Hi Andreas,

 

Thanks for your post! As for the above, I thought such was the case.

 

Hope that you are well!

 

In Christ,

Alice



#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 03:43 PM

Thanks.  The source is Bannister Fletcher, the standard reference work on the history of architecture.  I checked carefully that I hadn't written 'minibar'!



#13 Alice

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 03:51 PM

Thanks.  The source is Bannister Fletcher, the standard reference work on the history of architecture.  I checked carefully that I hadn't written 'minibar'!

 

Yes, somehow I remembered that from my undergraduate days studying for my Art History major.

 

As for caution in spelling the minbar properly--I can certainly understand !! :D

 

Regards--



#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:19 PM

Yes, I bought my copy as an art student in about 1967.



#15 Reader Luke

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:31 PM

Thanks for sharing all these posts, links, and information! :)

 

Many of these architectural details are still used in Greek churches here in the U.S and in Athens.: the Ambo, the Porch, and even the fountain!

 

I wonder if the fountain served a practical purpose for washing up or cooling off before entering church--in the hot, dusty days of Greek summer in a society that did not have indoor bathing and showering, any element of water would have been refreshing.

 

The ciborium does remind one mostly of Roman Catholic churches and I have never seen one in modern use due to the element of the iconostasis. I suppose its presence in Orthodoxy was when there was influence between East and West in the pre schism Church. Of course the most famous one that comes to mind is the one in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome/Vatican.

 

The Ambo can be seen in many mosques, and I wonder if the Muslim conquerors borrowed the element from the Orthodox. :huh:

 

The ciborium actually dates to really early (probably pre-Justinian at least), and like the basilica, ambo, and other elements, was completely universal throughout Christendom. I suspect that as the templon developed into the iconostasis, and they became more and more solid, the East simply just shifted away from use of the ciborium, especially since it served to emphasize the altar, but if the altar was blocked by the iconostasis, then it didn't serve that purpose.

 

Also, I didn't put it above because I never found anything to solidly prove it, but apparently the ciborium in our church (which was regarded as the "tabernacle") eventually developed into the tabernacle which sits on the altar and in which the pre-sanctified gifts are kept (either for distribution by the Priest/Deacon outside church or for Pre-Sanct. Liturgy).

https://en.wikipedia...urch_tabernacle

 

However, I haven't found any solid proof for that, because there was already a "tabernacle" kept on altars that had the ciborium above, so because both were contemporary, it doesn't seem like one could "become" the other.

 

It should also be noted that many of the really ancient Greek churches in Greece actually still have the ciborium, just as they have the ambo.

 

As noted above, the ambo in most modern Greek Churches seems to actually be on the north side, this is what most modern Greek ambon look like: http://www.evagelidi...ed-items/pulpit

 

Personally, I wish we still had ambon like this, and in the middle of the church rather than to one side: http://preachersinst...mbakagreece.png

Though that one is a bit large.


Edited by Devin B., 05 September 2013 - 04:38 PM.





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