Apse

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Typical early Christian Byzantine apse with a hemispherical semi-dome in the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe Stappoclasseaps.jpg
Typical early Christian Byzantine apse with a hemispherical semi-dome in the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe
Typical floor plan of a cathedral, with the apse shaded Apse.png
Typical floor plan of a cathedral, with the apse shaded

In architecture, an apse (plural apses; from Latin absis: "arch, vault" from Greek ἀψίς apsis "arch"; sometimes written apsis, plural apsides) is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome, also known as an exedra . In Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic Christian church (including cathedral and abbey) architecture, the term is applied to a semi-circular or polygonal termination of the main building at the liturgical east end (where the altar is), regardless of the shape of the roof, which may be flat, sloping, domed, or hemispherical. Smaller apses are found elsewhere, especially in shrines. [1]

Contents

Definition

An apse is a semicircular recess, often covered with a hemispherical vault. Commonly, the apse of a church, cathedral or basilica is the semicircular or polygonal termination to the choir or sanctuary, or sometimes at the end of an aisle. In church architecture it is generally the name given to where the altar is placed or where the clergy are seated. [2] An apse is occasionally found in a synagogue, e.g. Maoz Haim Synagogue.

The apse is separated from the main part of the church by the transept. [3]

Smaller apses are sometimes built in locations other than the east end, especially for reliquaries or shrines of saints.[ citation needed ]

History

The domed apse became a standard part of the church plan in the early Christian era. [4]

In the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, the south apse is known as diaconicon and the north apse as prothesis. Various ecclesiastical features of which the apse may form part are drawn together here:

Chancel

The chancel (or sanctuary), directly to the east beyond the choir contains the High Altar, where there is one (compare communion table). This area is reserved for the clergy, and was therefore formerly called the "presbytery", from the Greek presbuteros meaning "elder", [ citation needed ] or in older and Catholic usage, "priest". [5]

Chevet-apse chapels

Hemi-cyclic choirs, first developed in the East, came to use in France in 470. [6] By the onset of the 13th century, they had been augmented with radiating apse chapels outside the choir aisle, the entire structure of apse, choir and radiating chapels coming to be known as the chevet (French, "headpiece"). [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Cathedral floorplan

In Western ecclesiastical architecture, a cathedral diagram is a floor plan showing the sections of walls and piers, giving an idea of the profiles of their columns and ribbing. Light double lines in perimeter walls indicate glazed windows. Dashed lines show the ribs of the vaulting overhead. By convention, ecclesiastical floorplans are shown map-fashion, with north to the top and the liturgical east end to the right.

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Nave Central part of a church

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Transept Architectural element

A transept is a transverse part of any building, which lies across the main body of the edifice. In churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform ("cross-shaped") building within the Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architectural traditions. Each half of a transept is known as a semitransept.

Amiens Cathedral Church in Amiens, France

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Metz Cathedral

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Apse chapel

An apse chapel or apsidal chapel is a chapel in traditional Christian church architecture, which radiates tangentially from one of the bays or divisions of the apse. It is reached generally by a semicircular passageway, or ambulatory, exteriorly to the walls or piers of the apse.

Early Gothic architecture

Early Gothic is the style of architecture that appeared in northern France, Normandy and then England between about 1130 and the mid-13th century. It combined and developed several key elements from earlier styles, particularly from Romanesque architecture, including the rib vault, flying buttress, and the pointed arch, and used them in innovative ways to create structures, particularly Gothic cathedrals and churches, of exceptional height and grandeur, filled with light from stained glass windows. Notable examples of early Gothic architecture in France include the ambulatory and facade of Saint-Denis Basilica; Sens Cathedral (1140); Laon Cathedral; Senlis Cathedral; (1160) and most famously Notre-Dame de Paris.

St. Marys Church, Osnabrück

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Gothic cathedrals and churches

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References

  1. "Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Floor Plan". NationalShrine.com. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. T. Poole (1907). "Apse". Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  3. Jane Vadnal (January 1998). "transept". Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture. University of Pittsburgh . Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  4. "Apse". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  5. "Where in the New Testament are Priests Mentioned". Catholic Answers. Catholic Answers. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  6. Moss, Henry; The Birth of the Middle Ages 395-814; Clarendon, 1935
  7. "Chevet", Encyclopædia Britannica