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:
Another example of such atriums would be just a short jog from St. Peter's at St. Clement's church in Rome:
Yet another Western example can be found in Milan at St. Ambrose's Church.
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.
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:
Edited by Devin B., 04 September 2013 - 06:04 PM.