Having experienced some of Orthodoxy in Greece. I've wondered for a while, and haven't been able to find an answer, as to the origin of some of the furniture found in Greek churches that can't be found elsewhere in Orthodox Churches.
One of the pecularities is how the Greek solea seems to extend at least 10ft (or more) farther out from the iconostasis than elsewhere. Also, this extended solea may be 1 step (or 2) up from the main floor level, with 1 or 2 final steps next to the Royal Doors.
The traditional aspects kept seem to be the two kliros wings to the north and south on top of this extended solea, the Bishop's throne to the south, and the tall ambon to the north.
However, the one other peculiarity I found in the Greek churches is that on the western end of the solea, where it steps down toward the people, there is a low, waist-high wall with icons on it, much like altar rails in Western Churches. This wall has a central opening (sometimes with doors) that is used during entrances and through which people exit after receiving communion or holy bread, and through which people can walk to approach the Bishop's throne to receive a blessing during the service.
Now, when I asked some Orthodox in Greece, they said that the many stasidia/kareklas (chairs) and modern stanchions help keep people organized so processions can occur. I also thought that low wall kind of is similar, keeping people (and especially wandering children) off the solea and away from the choirs.
But I thought there must be a historical and practical explanation for this in Greek Churches. Does anyone happen to know why it is that Greek Churches seem to be the only ones with this extended solea and the low wall separating the solea from the center of the nave?
According to Wikipedia, when the ambo was in the center of the church, the solea connected it directly to the bema near the iconostasis and a low wall surrounded the platform. This would seem to be the origin, but is there anything backing this up? Does anyone know anything about the origin of this?
Also, I've found that many of the Greek Churches still had ciborium made to cover the altars (and Orthodox furniture stores there still make them), why and when did this start to disappear in Orthodox Churches?
Edited by Devin B., 30 August 2013 - 09:50 PM.