A church or church building is a building used by one or more Christian denominations for prayer and worship . Based on the etymological meaning of the Greek word κυριακή [οικία] ( Kyriake [ OIKIA ], "belong [it home] to the Lord") apply churches as places of worship . Together with the buildings of other religions, church buildings are generally referred to as sacred buildings .
The church is the central place of worship for the Roman Catholic , Old Catholic , Orthodox , Irish Scottish , Anglican and Protestant communities. It serves the gathering of the religious community, common prayer, the proclamation of the word of God, the dispensing and reception of sacraments and sacramentals .
According to the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, it is "a sacred building intended for worship, to which the believers have the right of free access to worship primarily publicly." For Martin Luther a building was only a church if Christians were in it come together, "ask, preach, listen and receive sacrament." He therefore recommends the demolition of churches when they no longer serve the worship event: "as with all other hews, if they are nymmer useful". According to Luther, church building in and of itself has no holiness. The Reformed theologian Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575) saw it similarly . For him a church was holy, "provided that it is sanctified through holy use - and that is, through the worship of the community."
The differences in understanding also play a not insignificant role in the sanctification of the building. While in the Roman Catholic Church, for example, a church building is consecrated by the rite of church consecration reserved for the bishop , Protestant churches are given their purpose, or “dedicated” . If a church is no longer used, it is preceded by profanation in the Catholic Church , in Protestant churches usually a so-called "deedication".
Many church buildings are locked outside of the services. The “ open church ” initiatives of various Protestant regional churches want to counteract this and invite the congregations to open their houses of worship during the week as well. Some church buildings are only accessible to the public outside of church service times upon payment of an entrance fee. “Secular” events such as concerts or readings also sometimes take place in church buildings.
Churches are often a monument , a cultural asset and part of the cultural heritage. Many churches bear the mark for cultural property or the mark for cultural property under special protection in accordance with the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (see Blue Shield International ).
Parish churches in Protestantism also called parish churches, the main churches a are parish or congregation . Other churches and chapels of a parish serve the individual function, for example the cemetery chapel - in some places also referred to as the "funeral hall" - and the branch church of a parish that is assigned to a parish. The area of a parish or parish is usually based on historical political parish boundaries, in larger cities on a district or a city district. The national churches follow in this sense Parochialprinzip , free churches do not know these rules. A church is usually assigned other administrative or social institutions, such as a parish office or schools. They are in the neighborhood or on the church premises.
The church of a monastery can be called a monastery church, abbey church , priory church , catholicon (main church of a Greek Orthodox monastery) or minster (from Latin monasterium , "monastery"). The term minster is used for some cathedrals , parish churches and monastery churches alike.
A collegiate church belongs to a monastery . That is different from a convent in that it canons or ladies inhabit. These are in turn subdivided into regular and secular canons or regular and secular canons .
In the Catholic and Orthodox churches, episcopal churches have the title of cathedral . From late antiquity to the high Middle Ages was in the Western Church a baptistery (often next to the Cathedral Baptistery ) built.
Due to their size and design, cathedral churches are particularly outstanding, mostly episcopal church buildings.
Münster serves as the name for a monastery, collegiate or cathedral church.
A church that was built on the basis of a vow as a token of thanks for salvation from an emergency or with a request for the fulfillment of a specific cause, sometimes also for atonement, is called a votive church .
On the one hand, early Christian multi-aisled sacred buildings from late antiquity are referred to as basilica . In addition, the basilica also represents an honorary title (→ basilica (title) ) awarded by the Catholic Church for special church buildings , whereby a distinction must be made between the six venerable basilicae maiores and the more than 1,500 basilicae minores .
Emergency church is the name given to rooms or buildings that serve as a makeshift or provisional church and are usually built in an emergency. They are not always typologically recognizable as a church. In some cases, however, there are also churches that were built in an emergency but are intended for permanent use (e.g. Bartning-Notkirchen ).
Other purpose churches
In connection with facilities or special purposes it is also called sanctuaries , hospital churches , hospital chapels , churches or institution Road Church . A profile church is a church that serves a thematically narrowly defined purpose, such as a youth church , meditation church , such as B. Center for meditation and spirituality or as a pastoral care center for grieving people. Small and partly privately built church buildings are called chapels . Free church congregations sometimes also use the name chapel (deviating from the above meaning), prayer hall or prayer house . The so-called simultaneous churches , which are used by congregations of two or more denominations , represent a special case .
Small church buildings are also known as chapels .
Rededicated or profane churches
Basic architectural forms
The Christian church building according to the early and medieval ideal follows four floor plans, after the Reformation a fifth, the transverse church, was added. A large part of the church buildings up to around the middle of the 20th century corresponded to one of these basic schemes, in modern church building there has been a great variety of designs since then. A sixth, the Sermon Church, is characterized by the purpose stated in the Word.
- The basilica is the most important basic form of early Christian and medieval church construction, the interior of which is separated into several longitudinal aisles by rows of columns. The most common are three aisles (three-aisled basilica), in which the middle one is higher than the two aisles and has its own windows in the wall zone, which represents the difference in height to the aisles. Five-aisled basilicas are much rarer and are usually particularly lavish. The early Christian churches still leaned heavily on the ancient basilica, in the Middle Ages it was further developed into a cross basilica with a transept.
- The hall church is similar to the basilica, but its longitudinal aisles are of the same or approximately the same height and are united under a common gable roof , because the central nave has no windows of its own, while the roof of the basilica is "stepped".
- The hall church is a single-nave church building, which consists of a single, hall-like room - mostly with a retracted choir; often with a ridge turret as a bell tower. Widespread type of construction in mostly rural churches and chapels.
- The choir tower (usually Saalkirche) has over the chancel built church tower, which also serves as a belfry, often as a defensive tower, created in the Romanesque.
- In the central building , the main axes are of the same length, resulting in circular, oval, square and cross-shaped floor plans. Central construction is widespread in Western Europe, especially in Italy, and is very often used in Eastern Orthodox churches.
- In the case of a transverse church in east- facing churches, the main axis from the (west) entrance to the altar cuts through the longer side of the church. However, the east-facing of the building is no longer compulsory in the transverse church that emerged after the Reformation in Germany as a purely Protestant church structure, rather the pulpit on one of the long sides of the nave forms the fixed point for the listening, viewing and sitting direction of the community. The altar can be located either under the pulpit or at right angles to it in the other central axis of the ship. Transverse churches can be found primarily in the Protestant regions of Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
- In a preaching church , good seeing and hearing towards the pulpit determines the interior design, but not the exterior of the building: the shortest possible distance and a space free of columns are important. The cross churches are best suited in this sense .
The main architectural parts of a traditional European church building are the choir (altar house), the transept and the nave. The facade often has a tower or two towers . The nave is usually multi-aisled, i. that is, it has a central nave and two or four aisles. At intersections between landscape and nave is the crossing .
Church buildings in the Middle Ages were usually oriented to the east ("easted"), i. That is, the main altar lies in the direction of the central point of the sun rising . This orientation (from Orient = East ) on the one hand symbolizes the Savior Jesus Christ , who, like the sunrise, brings the light of faith. On the other hand, the orientation relates to the situation of Jerusalem in the east as seen from Europe . A significant exception is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, it is "wested". The principle of easting did not survive in modern times, and it usually played no role in central buildings anyway.
Urban planning configurations
- detached church
- church or chapel standing free in the landscape
- standing freely on a square, the village green or a green area within a village
- integrated into the building structure
- Church integrated into the facade of a perimeter block development
- Church integrated into a building complex, e.g. B. many monastery churches that form an independent wing of this complex.
- integrated into a building (e.g. hospital chapel)
- Backyard church
There are a number of special designs that differ both architecturally and in terms of their use from the conventional design;
- Churches of the mendicant order follow the poverty ideal of the mendicant orders in terms of size and design and generally have a roof turret, not a tower.
- In choir tower churches, the tower rises above the choir , often as a bell tower .
- In a double church , two church rooms are spatially separated from each other.
- Emporium churches are often based on the design of the basilica, in which a gallery can occupy the space above the side aisles and under the upper aisle.
- Eisenkirchen are made from prefabricated components made of corrugated iron or cast iron.
- Rock churches are churches carved out of the rock. Churches carved into the rock are also called cave churches .
- The chain church can still be found sporadically in southern Germany, Austria and South Tyrol. The shape of the facade decorations of churches that are consecrated to St. Leonhard led to the name. The churches are spanned with iron chains either permanently or in a rite on November 6th.
- One speaks of a fortified church when the church is surrounded by its own defensive structures, such as walls and towers. A church equipped with comparatively simple defensive devices is called a fortified church .
- Notkirchen and barrack churches are provisional sacred buildings. The churches of this type emerged in times of economic hardship, after wars or as an interim church during the congregational development phase. The so-called tent mission uses temporary tent churches for evangelism .
- The oval church has an oval floor plan and can be laid out as a longitudinal church (also: in "egg shape") or a transverse church.
- In a transverse church , the transverse direction of the interior is more emphasized than the longitudinal direction.
- The round church is a form of the simple central building and used to serve as a baptismal, burial or fortified church. Any additions are not part of the actual church space.
- In England, Alsace and Northern Germany, round tower churches are common, the construction of which corresponds to the long building.
- Stave churches or "mast churches" are wooden churches that were built in Scandinavia during the transition from pagan religion to Christianity in the 12th and 13th centuries.
- In a Wegekirche , the church interior is oriented towards the front, towards the altar .
- Winkelkirchen consist of two aisles that are at right angles to each other. The altar or pulpit of such a building is at an angle.
So far there have been no archaeological finds for the first two centuries as far as the Christian sacred building is concerned. It is generally considered improbable that Christian sacred buildings already existed during this period. However, since the beginning of the 2nd century at the latest, certain sites have been venerated, such as the grotto in Nazareth or the tomb of Peter in the Vatican necropolis . The oldest archaeologically proven church is the so-called house church of Dura Europos . It is a former house that was converted into a church with a baptistery in 232/33 .
Roman and Byzantine Empire
After the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire , which reached its climax under Emperor Diocletian , the Edict of Tolerance of Galerius and the Milan Agreement between the two Roman emperors Constantine and Licinius ushered in the Constantinian turning point , which legitimized Christianity and finally of Theodosius I the state religion of the Roman Empire was appointed. With financial support from the state, numerous new churches were built, especially in Rome and Constantinople , the Trier Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem . For the first time, an independent sacred architecture of Christianity emerged, the prayer rooms of which in earlier times only had a provisional character, when services were mostly held in private rooms.
From the Roman architecture that was basilica with several naves , columns with capitals , Kolonnadenhof ( atrium ) and apse taken opposite the entrance. The design of the basilica is on the one hand neutral, as the court and market buildings also looked similar, but on the other hand it had recently also served the cult of the deified emperors and made the replacement of the imperial cult by the new religion visible. The barrel vaults of many Roman buildings were replaced by flat roofs, mostly in coffering . The church tower was initially free-standing ( campanile ) and was not attached to the structure until a later period. In somewhat later church buildings, an inserted transept prevailed, which cut the basilica in front of the apse and resulted in a cross-shaped basic scheme. In early Christian basilicas in Rome, the front of the church is in the east and the apse in the west.
The early Christian sacred building largely dispensed with decoration and ornamentation. The theologians of the early church based their attitude in the first centuries AD primarily on the prohibition of images in the Decalogue and were thoroughly hostile to artistic activities, especially church painting . Paintings with New Testament motifs were only used from the 4th century onwards, and the cross also only gained increasing importance as a central Christian motif after the Council of Ephesus in 431.
The early church in the central building had a basilica or an atrium attached. The first round church on the territory of the Roman Empire was the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Milan , built from 372 to 402 . In the middle of the 5th century, the Santo Stefano Rotondo was built in Rome, a round building with three concentric circles in which a Greek cross was inscribed. Another important central building from this period is San Vitale in Ravenna.
With the Council of Ephesus, the division between the Eastern Churches and the Roman Catholic Church began . Domed basilicas and cross- domed churches ( St. Mark's Basilica in Venice) dominated the Byzantine faith as an architectural style. In Constantinople, as the most important Christian center in the East, important church buildings were built; the new building of the Apostle Church , consecrated on June 28, 550, traced the Greek cross in the plan, as did Santo Stefano Rotondo. Furthermore, the Hagia Sofia was built from 532 to 537 AD as the main church of the ancient oriental and later the Byzantine church. Both buildings are domed basilicas, i.e. basilicas with a central building character.
The small central building , which spread from the fourth century AD, is regarded as stylistically independent . It was reduced to basic geometric shapes, such as circular, square or octagonal, and instead of a parish church, it was a memoria at a sanctuary, a baptistery or a mausoleum .
The spread of Christianity in Germanic , Franconian and Gothic areas associated with the migration of peoples led to a new interpretation of church building. The architectural knowledge of the northern and central European tribes was comparatively low, so that the wooden structure became the most important element of sacred architecture. The stave churches that are still preserved today, especially in Scandinavia, date from this era. Larger stone church buildings, such as the predecessor of Reims Cathedral , were built in the time of Clovis I towards the end of the 5th century. The common type for larger church buildings was the multi-aisle and no-frills basilica, central buildings were only rarely erected and in small designs.
In rural church construction in the Franconian Empire , especially in the widespread private churches , the towerless hall church with an east-facing, retracted transverse rectangular or square choir predominated. Instead of a bell tower, a roof turret was added . Originally, these were mainly wooden buildings on stone foundations, which were renewed / rebuilt when the stone fell into disrepair (mostly field stones) while maintaining the location. The choir was often vaulted later and equipped with a choir tower, which was occasionally expanded as a defensive tower (Chorturmkirche). These early church buildings are very reminiscent of churches as they were common in Ireland and Scotland in the 6th and 7th centuries. The Iro-Scottish wandering monks brought this architectural style to mainland Europe when they began proselytizing the Franconian Empire in the 6th century.
After Bonifatius had reorganized the church organization of the Frankish Empire on behalf of the Pope based on the Roman model, he ousted the Irish-Franconian church style and had new churches built only in the form of the Roman basilica with transept and apse.
In Anglo-Saxon architecture prevailed until the 7th / 8th. In the 17th century in Central Europe simple wooden constructions (example Greensted ), sacral buildings made of broken stone and bricks were less common. Archaic forms of the Irish-Scottish Church , which also differed in their organizational forms from the Roman Church on the mainland, persisted for a long time .
Unlike the church building north of the Alps, the Eastern Gothic sacred architecture developed. From 476 the Ostrogoths gained control of Italy, the Visigoths mostly moved to Spain and merged with the local population to form one ethnic group. Not only did they adapt most strongly to Roman and Byzantine architecture, they also orientated themselves culturally and politically to the former great power of Rome. During this period, especially in the high phase of the 5th and 6th centuries, around 1,200 masonry sacred buildings of a larger type and around 280 cathedrals were built in Central and Southern Europe, most of them in today's Italy and France.
The beginning of the pre-Romanesque period is set either to the Merovingian dynasty around 500 or to the Carolingian Renaissance at the court of Charlemagne in the late 8th century. Carolingian architecture deliberately aimed to imitate Roman architecture. Numerous elements were taken over from early Christian and Byzantine architecture, with the introduction of some innovations resulting in a unique style. The shape of the basilica was varied and supplemented. The apse was designed as a choir , under which crypts were built, and the rise in the veneration of saints required additional altars in churches. In addition, the westwork was developed, an entrance hall in front of the church. At the time of the Ottonians , the innovations of the Carolingian era were further developed. In particular, the spatial structure was harmonized with columns and niches, the basilica tended to be enlarged, as was the crypt, for which a separate room (hall crypt) or an extension of up to two floors was built.
Ottonische Michaelis Church Hildesheim
San Salvador de Valdediós , 9th century
Church of Sv. Donat in Zadar
Roman Church and Eastern Churches
Since the middle of the 9th century , the Roman Church ( primacy of the Pope ) and the Byzantine Church increasingly diverged. Liturgical differences made different demands on the church buildings. The Patriarchate of Constantinople Opel was subject to the 11th century, southern Italy, until 15 December 1448, the Russian Church, which today autocephalous churches of Southeast Europe any longer. The Coptic Church , the Syrian, including the Georgian and the Armenian Apostolic Church had had a life of their own since 451 . The influences mingled around the Adriatic Sea and in southern Italy. Otherwise, for a long time these churches had only little connection to the development of Western styles. The crusades created contacts but also fear of paternalism (see Latin Empire ). Around 1475, the Renaissance architect Aristotele Fioravanti was expressly commissioned to build the Uspensky Cathedral in Moscow according to Russian traditions.
Around 1000 to 1200 AD, the Romanesque style spread across Europe. Political and economic stability led to a new period of prosperity. Although the term Romanesque refers by name to the tradition of Roman architecture, the architectural style represents a development of West and Central European architecture and continues the approaches of Carolingian and Ottonian architecture. The Romanesque architecture looks very voluminous and massive. Typical are round arches , an enlarged, compact westwork, towers in a round or octagonal shape and cube capitals on the pillars. In the early Romanesque era there are flat coffered ceilings, later groin vaults . The spatial width is increased considerably, especially the basilica is being redesigned with the ambulatory , chapel wreath and expanded support width . Sculptures and stained glass become richer in form and show more epic motifs. The dwarf gallery is a decorative element of Romanesque architecture .
Painted crypt of the Basilica of San Isidoro in León, Spain
South-west transept of Ely Cathedral , around 1100
The Gothic originated in Île-de-France around 1140 and lasted the longest in Great Britain after spreading across Europe. It clearly distinguished itself from the compactness of the Romanesque and made extensive use of symbolism and allegory . Pointed arches , ribbed vaults and buttresses were used for the first time , so that massive walls as static support elements could be dispensed with. Window areas have been considerably enlarged by this advantage and create a lighter and friendlier atmosphere in the interior. The naves got higher. Pillars and columns became slimmer, their design as a bundle of services was typical, but far from common . Church towers were also raised and clearly protruded from the structure. Crossing towers were often dispensed with in France and almost entirely in Germany. They were refined in England and Spain. The ambition to exhaust the possibilities of the statics caused many a tower to collapse. Especially in Germany and the Netherlands, but also elsewhere, not least in Spain, many naves were designed as hall churches in which all the vaults were about the same height.
With the high medieval development of the country , the rural population increased and numerous cities were founded, some of which achieved considerable prosperity. This increased the number and size of the parish churches, but also the inner-city monastery churches. As in the Romanesque period, many cathedrals were particularly elaborately designed . Two of the most important Gothic cathedrals in France, Notre-Dame de Paris and Notre-Dame de Reims , were also the sites of the most important ceremonies of the kingdom . Several of the most important Gothic churches in Germany were built as parish churches and have remained so to this day, such as the Marienkirchen in Lübeck and Rostock and the Ulm Minster . The Freiburg Minster only became a cathedral long after its completion.
Many Gothic churches have components that were still built in the Romanesque style. Several of the best-known Gothic churches went unfinished for centuries after the Gothic went out of fashion. While the Ulm Minster was hardly missing more than the upper floors of the tower, almost half of the Cologne Cathedral and the Prague St. Vitus Cathedral were built in the 19th century, albeit largely according to medieval plans.
Milan Cathedral , third largest church and the most extensive marble structure in the world
Chartres Cathedral , Gothic cross basilica
Crossing tower of York Minster
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the ethical and social change of humanism and the Reformation affected church building. There was a tendency to still use the formal language of the Gothic, but tried to differentiate from the style with creative means. The standard form of the basilica was withdrawn and the hall church and the hall church were increasingly turned to. By largely dispensing with the use of Fiale and Wimperg , the Gothic architectural language was also considerably simplified in Catholic churches and the space became more uniform - in line with the ideas of the Renaissance . The classic elements of the Renaissance, such as columns and classic capitals, often complemented a Gothic design language.
In the Protestant and Reformed areas, where the preaching of the word played a central role, preaching churches in the form of transverse churches emerged, especially in the Renaissance and then in the Baroque, as a special form of hall churches , in which the congregation looked and listened to the place of proclamation, the pulpit , is concentrated and can therefore be described as the only purely Protestant sacred structure.
Between 1545 and 1563 the Catholic Church wrote the Council of Trent and initiated the Counter-Reformation . From about 1540 onwards, Catholicism tried to push back Protestantism through diplomacy , state repression and missionary re-Catholicization . In this situation evolved from Mannerism the Baroque , which from 1575 from Italy in Europe and the colonial architecture widespread in the European colonies overseas.
As in secular architecture, the baroque was a high phase of building activity, the focus was on the representative representation of the building and the new theological dogmas . Based on the formal language of the Renaissance, it was increased disproportionately in the Baroque. Domes and capitals were enriched with overgrown decor and cornices , and stucco figures merged with frescoed perspective ceilings . A baroque church was seen as a total work of art for the first time and the church interior was conceptually standardized. The long building took a back seat to the central building, and both types were often combined. Despite the dynamic forms, an expression of severity was preserved. The vaults, which were already used in the Gothic period, were decorated with hollow vaults and mirror vaults with a rectangular and round floor plan. Another novelty is the stitch cap , a vault running parallel to the long building, mostly with niches for window areas. The expansive decoration with floral ornamentation and mythological motifs increases around 1720 to the Rococo style epoch . In the late Baroque and Rococo phases , smaller hall churches emerged, especially in southern Germany .
During this period , Protestantism preferred transverse churches in order to place all worshipers as close as possible to the pulpit and altar. The pulpit altar was a new development of the Reformed Church .
Classicism and Historicism
With the French Revolution in 1789, the dissolution of absolutist forms of rule in Europe began, which also ended the extravagant Baroque era. At the end of the 18th century, the ideas and ideals of the Enlightenment spread . With the secularization at the beginning of the 19th century, church building lost its predominant position in architecture and the former opinion-forming elite of clerics and aristocrats took a back seat. It led to a phase in which several architectural styles based on the Classical period existed in parallel, whose forms of expression had been used since the Renaissance. These styles are now grouped together as Classicism . The east-facing was dispensed with in the church building and incorporated into the overall urban design. Churches served as eye-catchers on large street axes, which were reinforced in particular by domes and towers. Slim, sharply cut floor plans replaced the playful forms of the Baroque. Columns based on the Roman-Hellenistic model formed a portico or a row of colonnades. Historicism , which is closely related to classicism, relates even more to antiquity, and in some cases building forms are simply copied. From the end of the 18th century, the romantic art movement and the Protestant clergy tied back to Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance forms, and the burgeoning nationalism also endeavored to create an architecture of national identity. A special feature of this epoch is the "export" of the classicist and historicist styles. In the course of colonialism , colonial authorities and missionaries built churches around the world based on European models.
Towards the end of the 19th century, science and technology made great strides, the visual arts broke away from the ideologies of the past and the new building materials glass , iron , steel and concrete were used in architecture. The building materials and constructions have been used since the beginning of the century, but largely clad with historicizing and classical facades. The invention of statics allowed a more precise calculation of the structure and the steel frame construction made a more efficient construction possible. At the beginning of the 20th century, the first sacred buildings were built, which today are considered modern according to art-historical criteria . The high phase began after the Second World War . The modern sacred building developed an enormous variety, so that certain directions, tendencies and regional differences in the whole are difficult to determine. Nevertheless, some basic characteristics can be defined: the load-bearing building material is usually concrete, the facade is straightforward. The classic forms of construction, such as the basilica, move into the background and are often adapted as irregular floor plans. Almost every architectural style in the modern timeframe was also used in sacred buildings. The demands on a modern church interior also experience a change over time. The needs and requirements of the parishes for a lively togetherness in their church require the consideration of additional usage requests such as meetings, readings, concerts and are expressed in new design concepts - the “multifunctional church space”.
- Church (organization)
- Orthodox church buildings
- Church archeology
- Church portal as legal place
- History of church building in East Frisia
- List of the UNESCO World Heritage Church buildings
- List of the oldest churches in the world
- List of the largest churches
- Churches in Naples
- Churches in Rome
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- Defined in Article 16 of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property of May 14, 1954
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- Kirchbau.de: Gothic church building
- Kirchbau.de: Baroque church building
- Kirchbau.de: Classicist church building