Religious PROJECT

The history of architecture is concerned more with religious buildings than with any other type, because in most past cultures the universal and exalted appeal of religion made the church or temple the most expressive, the most permanent, and the most influential building in any community.

The typology of religious architecture is complex, because no basic requirements such as those that characterize domestic architecture are common to all religions and because the functions of any one religion involve many different kinds of activity, all of which change with the evolution of cultural patterns.

The typology of religious architecture is complex, because no basic requirements such as those that characterize domestic architecture are common to all religions and because the functions of any one religion involve many different kinds of activity, all of which change with the evolution of cultural patterns.

Places of worship

Temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues serve as places of worship and as shelters for the images, relics, and holy areas of the cult. In the older religions, the temple was not always designed for communal use. In ancient Egypt and India it was considered the residence of the deity, and entrance into the sanctum was prohibited or reserved for priests; in ancient Greece it contained an accessible cult image, but services were held outside the main facade; and in the ancient Near East and in the Mayan and Aztec architecture of ancient Mexico, where the temple was erected at the summit of pyramidal mounds, only privileged members of the community were allowed to approach.Few existing religions are so exclusive. Beliefs as dissimilar as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam are based on communal participation in rites held inside each religion’s place of worship. The buildings have even evolved into similar plans, because of a common requirement that the maximum number of worshippers be able to face the focal point of the service (the mosque’s “point” is the wall facing the direction of Mecca, the city of Muhammad’s birth and therefore the most sacred of all Islamic religious sites). Consequently, the Muslims were able to adopt the Byzantine church tradition, modern synagogues are often scarcely distinguishable from churches, and early Protestantism absorbed Catholic architecture with only minor revision (elimination of subsidiary chapels and altars, repositories of relics, and some symbolic decoration).

Shelter is not always required for worship. Primitive rites are often practiced outdoors with some monument as a focus, while the altar of Pergamum and the Ara Pacis (Augustan Altar of Peace) in Rome are evidences of the open-air religious observances of the classical world. The atrium of early Christian architecture and the cloister were isolated areas for prayer.