Chapel wreath

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Schematic representation
Chapel wreath consisting of separate chapels on the choir head of the Romanesque abbey church of St. Sernin in Toulouse
Chapel wreath made of interconnected chapels on the Gothic cathedral of Nevers

As Chapel ring are bands referred to in a Roman or Gothic Kloster- Kathedralkirche or a semi-circular or polygonal chorus or an ambulatory are arranged. Individually they are also referred to as "wreath chapels" or "radial chapels"; the middle chapel is called the "top chapel".


The oldest examples of a chapel wreath come from French abbey and pilgrim churches of the 9th to 12th centuries (e.g. St. Philibert in Tournus , Ste-Foy in Conques or St. Sernin in Toulouse ); In the European cathedral Gothic of the 12th and 13th centuries they experience their structural highlights. They are no longer to be found in the Renaissance and in the architecture of the Baroque or even Classicism .



In medieval churches, a chapel wreath is always to be found in unity with an ambulatory, especially in pilgrimage churches, for example on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela . In historical pilgrim churches the ambulatory was used for the processions of pilgrims, who were often numerous in the Middle Ages, who entered one of the aisles, then around the choir and to be able to pull out again via the aisle opposite. The way led past numerous relics exhibited on altars in chapels , which they had come to worship. Last but not least, these contributed to the pilgrims' willingness to donate.

Mass celebrations

The accumulation of chapels in historical large churches also resulted from the need to provide the monks of an abbey or the cathedral priests with a sufficient number of altars at which they could fulfill their obligation to celebrate church services.


The number of chapels in a wreath varies and depends on the size of the choir head . The Romanesque radial chapels often keep more or less wide spaces between each other, in which the outer wall is partially visible and in which mostly individual windows are left open. In the Gothic cathedrals they come into direct contact with one another, such as the Cologne Cathedral .

Wreath chapels usually stand on semicircular floor plans, which are often extended by short rectangles towards the access. Their mostly semicircular outer walls merge into corresponding partial vaults. In the Romanesque period, these are mostly half apse domes or half domes , which may be extended with short barrel vaults . In the Gothic there are half rib vaults . They are always exposed from one or more windows.


The Abbey Church of St. Philibert in Tournus (Burgundy) is one of the oldest churches with ambulatory and chapel wreath . Other examples from the Romanesque period are the St. Sernin Abbey in Toulouse , the Notre-Dame-du-Port cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand or the Notre-Dame de Châtel-Montagne priory church . The numerous Gothic cathedral churches with ambulatory and chapel wreath include the Cathedral of St-Étienne in Nevers and the Cologne Cathedral .

See also


  • Donat F. Grueninger: “Deambulatorium Angelorum” or earthly claim to power? The ambulatory with the chapel wreath - the origin, diffusion and meaning of an architectural form. Reichert, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-89500-377-8 . ( Online review )

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