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The crossing of a basilica

Under crossing is in the church , the space designated that the meeting of the main and cross- ship a church arises.

In churches with a cross-shaped floor plan, the crossing separates the choir from the nave . In churches with a short choir, the choir stalls can be accommodated here for monastery, collegiate and cathedral churches .

  • A crossing where the main and transepts are the same width and height is called a real crossing . The result is a square room.
  • If the crossing in a square floor plan is visually separated from the nave, transept arms and choir by crossing arches and crossing pillars, then it is a separated crossing .
  • A crossed crossing is used when the two sides of the transept are lower than the main nave or are partially separated by wall projections.
Transept dome of the late Romanesque cathedral of Zamora , Spain
West tower and crossing dome of Zamora Cathedral

The third church of Cluny Abbey ( Cluny III , from 1088) had two transepts and therefore had two crossings. This type of floor plan was particularly widespread in England (one speaks of a "double transept floor plan"). The transepts are named after the transepts: west transept - west transept and east transept - east transept .

Crossing tower, Romanesque: St. Godehard's Basilica , Hildesheim , Lower Saxony
Crossing in the ceiling of the City Church of Glarus , Canton Glarus

Crossing towers and crossing domes

The tower that is built over the crossing ( French croisée du transept , English crossing or intersection ) is called the crossing tower . In particular in the Norman and British-Irish architecture of the Middle Ages, crossing towers were often built. The Scheldt Gothic also has the crossing tower as a special feature. It can either be open to the interior of the church ( lantern tower ) or closed by a crossing vault. Apart from the Norman cathedral buildings, the French Gothic usually dispenses with the crossing tower (exceptions: Laon Cathedral (12th century) and Notre-Dame church in Dijon (13th century)).

In the large Romanesque church buildings, a dome was often built over the crossing - sometimes over a drum ( crossing dome ). The blueprints of the Gothic cathedrals also sometimes called for a dome, although this was rarely carried out. Very often one finds a roof turret over the crossing in Gothic church buildings . The crossing dome is built either as a monastery dome on an octagon or as a dome on a circle. The transition from the quadrangle of the ground plan to the octagon or round is created by bricked corner gussets , so-called trumpets , or by spherical triangles, so-called pendentives .


Most of the early Christian basilicas do not have a crossing (exception: Qal'at Sim'an ), as the transept through them is placed as a separate room in front of the nave and the apse is directly connected to the transept. This construction lasted up to the time of the Ottonians. However, preforms of the crossing can already be found in the Carolingian era in the churches of Germigny-des-Prés , Reichenau-Mittelzell and -Oberzell as well as on the St. Gallen monastery plan . In Ottonian architecture, the (restored) crossing of the collegiate church Gernrode should be mentioned. The first eliminated crossing in the strict sense of the word can be found in St. Michael in Hildesheim around 1020. The floor plan of the church is based on its square dimension (see square schematic ). It is an essential feature for defining the transition from early to high Romanesque architecture. In architecture since the Renaissance, the crossing is usually emphasized by a dome on a drum.

Special forms

A unique and characteristic design of the crossing area can be found in the Romanesque churches in Auvergne ( France ). The crossing and the adjoining parts of the transept are raised with a transverse rectangular heightening, which is crowned by the crossing tower. This component is called the Auvergnatian block or massif barlong . In part, the crossing is emphasized by drawn-down arches ( Notre-Dame du Port collegiate church , Clermont-Ferrand , Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes ). The pyramid-shaped structure of the choir area with chapel wreath, apse, transept and crossing tower is emphasized by the further step of the massif barlong , one speaks of the Auvergnatian pyramid.

In the cathedral of Ely the crossing is enlarged to an octagon and finished with a wooden vault.

Particularly striking crossing towers

View of the roof over the crossing of the Brunswick Cathedral , Lower Saxony


  • Günther Binding : The eliminated crossing, an invention of Bishop Bernwards von Hildesheim? In: Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch. Vol. 67, 2006, ISSN  0083-7105 , pp. 73-105.
  • Philip SC Caston: Late medieval crossing towers in German-speaking countries. Construction and building history. Imhof, Petersberg 1997, ISBN 3-932526-05-8 (also: Bamberg, Univ., Diss., 1996).

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