Abacus At the top of a capital, a thick rectangular slab of stone that serves as the flat, broad surface on which the architrave rests.
Acanthus A plant of the Mediterranean region whose serrated leaves were copied in stone to ornament Corinthian and Composite capitals; used also to decorate moldings and friezes.
Aedicule A framing motif consisting of an entablature and pediment supported by two columns.
Aisle A passage or corridor parallel to the nave of a church or an ancient basilica and separated from it by columns or piers.
Altar A table like structure for the celebration of the Sacraments in a Christian church; for sacrifice or offerings in antiquity.
Apse A semicircular, polygonal, or rectangular extension at the end of a Roman basilica or a Christian church.
Arcade A series of arches supported by columns or other vertical elements.
Arch A structural device, curved in shape, to span an opening by means of wedge-shaped bricks or stones that support each other by exerting mutual pressure and that are buttressed at the sides.
Architrave A square beam that is the lowest of the three horizontal components of a Classical entablature.
Attic Window A window lighting an attic story, and often located in a cornice. Attic windows are common to ancient Greek and Greek Revival architecture.
Barrel Vault A half-cylindrical vault, semicircular or pointed in cross section; also called tunnel vault.
Baptistery Building complex annexed to the early Christian basilicas. It usually consists – apart from the yard or the external area of the baptism in contact with the southern aisle of the basilica - of two more rooms annexed to the aforementioned yard. The arrangement of the baptistery was in accordance with the baptism ritual. Thus, the baptized to be from the yard or the exterior house, where the blessing, the exorcism and the profession of faith took place went into the interior, the photisterion. There he would get undressed, get anointed with the sacred oil and recite the Symbol of the Faith in front of the bishop. Finally the baptism in the font would take place with the symbolism of diving and ascension. Therefore, there was a built font in the center of the photisterion. The newly baptized dressed in white received the chrism by the bishop in the chrismarion, the room north of the photisterion where from he entered the church in order to attend the mass in front of the Holy Bema for the first time.
Basilica In ancient Roman architecture, a large rectangular building used as a tribunal or for other public purposes and generally arranged with nave, aisles, and one or more apses. Probably the most frequently met and archetypal church of the Christian art, since it was widely – if not exclusively – used during the early Christian period. In this architectural type the emphasis is on the length and therefore it is often characterized as basilican plan. Besides, one architectural origin of the basilica (since there are many disputes on its origin) are the Roman roads that had arcades supported by columns on their sides. According to another view, it derives from Roman halls of throne in the peristyle of the Roman houses or in the funerary chapels of the catacombs and the cemetery martyria. We distinguish two basilica types: the Hellenistic one (timber-roofed divided into three or more aisles by colonnades) and the Eastern one (barrel-vaulted, three-aisle divided by pillars).
Capital The uppermost part of a column, usually shaped to articulate the joint with the lintel or arch supported; in Classical types, comprising an abacus, echinus, and other carved detail.
Cella The body and main sanctuary of a Classical temple, as distinct from its portico and other external parts; sometimes used synonymously with naos, the principal room of a temple where the cult statue is housed.
Central plan This architectural type was widely used during the early Christian period. The first central plan building appeared as a hall in Roman baths. Later, it was an antechamber in royal architecture. During the 2nd century A.D. it became very important due to the Roman Pantheon. Around the 3rd century it was used as a mausoleum because it symbolizes heaven. It is distinguished in circular, octagonal, hexagonal, three-conch and tetra-conch according to its form.
Cloisonne masonry Characteristic and elaborate church masonry style of the Helladic school. Four-sided stones – usually porous – are framed by thin, red bricks, the plinths. Masonry made entirely out of plinths (with the typical red color) is encountered in Constantinople. When met in Greek churches (Ossios Loukas in Phocis), it is considered to be an influence from Constantinople.
Colonnade A range of columns that supports a string of continuous arches or a horizontal entablature.
Column A supporting vertical pillar consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft, and a capital on top of the shaft. Columns may be plain or ornamental. In Classical architecture, its parts are governed by proportional rules.
Composite Order One of the five Classical orders; favored in late Roman architecture. On the capital, large conjoined Ionic volutes are combined with the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian order.
Corinthian Order The most richly embellished of the the orders (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian) developed by the Greeks, with a tall capital composed of a bell-shaped core (kalathoss) enveloped by layers of acanthus leaves terminating in the corner volutes, surmounted by concave-sided abacus.
Cornice The uppermost, projecting portion of an entablature; also the crowing horizontal molding of a building or wall.
Cross-in-square These churches consist of a crossed square where a cross and the three-parted Holy Bema are inscribed. Based on the connection between these two parts the type is subdivided into the following categories: complex four-columned, semi-complex four-columned, simple four-columned and simple two-columned. This church type appears in Greece during the first half of the 10th century.
Cross-vaulted church Church architectural type that makes its appearance in the second half of the 13th century primarily in mainland Greece. They are usually small, barrel-vaulted churches, single-nave or three-aisle. A barrel-vault is interrupted by a second transverse and highly placed barrel-vault. Thus, the shape of a cross is clearly formed in the roof, hence the name of this church type. The church has many variations.
Crypt A vaulted space beneath the pavement of a church, often housing relics or tombs.
Cufic patterns Decorative patterns, very common in Byzantine church masonry. Their name originates from the Arabic city, Kufa. They imitate characters of the Arabic alphabet.
Dipteral Referring to a temple surrounded by a double range of columns.
Dome A curved vault that is erected on a circular base and that is semicircular, pointed, or bulbous in section. If raised over a square or polygonal base transitional squinches or pendentives must be inserted at the corners of the base to transform it into a near circle.
Doric Order The column and entablature developed on mainland Greece; the fluted columnar shaft is without a base; its capital is an abacus above a simple cushion-like molding (echinus). The entablature has a plain architrave, a frieze composed of metopes and triglyphs, and a cornice with projecting blocks (mutules). In Roman Doric, the column is slimmer than the Greek prototype, is unflutted, and stands on a low base; the capital is smaller.
Dry Masonry Masonry laid without mortar.
Early Christian Byzantine period The first Christian centuries, between the 4th and the 6th or the 7th century A.D.
Echinus A convex, cushion like molding between the shaft and the abacus in the Doric or Tuscan order; in an Ionic capital, found beneath the volutes, generally in decorated form.
Entablature The upper part of a Classical order comprising architrave, frieze, and cornice.
Exedra A semicircular recess or niche; a large apse.
Facade The principal exterior face of a building, usually the front.
Fluting The shallow concave channels cut vertically into the shaft of a column or pilaster. In Doric columns, they meet in a sharp edge; in Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite columns, they are separated by a narrow strip.
Free cross This type originates from the Roman mausoleum and during the early Christian period it was mainly used in martyria. In Greece we come across it mainly during the middle Byzantine years. They are small churches in regions around big urban centers.
Frieze A horizontal band, sometimes painted or decorated with sculpture or moldings. It may run along the upper portion of a wall just beneath a cornice or it may be that part of a classical entablature that lies between the architrave and cornice. A Doric frieze often has continuous relief sculpture.
In Antis The term used to describe columns placed between the ends of two walls, commonly projecting from the ends of the cella of a small Greek Temple.
Intercolumnation The space between adjacent columns in a colonnade, frequently determined by some multiple of the diameter of the column itself.
Ionic Order One of the five Classical Orders, the Ionic is characterized by a scroll-shaped (voluted) capital element, the presence of dentils in the cornice, and a frieze that might contain continuous relief ornament.
Late Byzantine period The last Byzantine period marked by the reign of the Palaeologan dynasty (13th – 15th c.).
Martyrium A structure, often of central plan, erected on a site sacred to Christianity, symbolizing an act of martyrdom or marking the grave of a martyr who died for their faith.
Mariological circle The subject of the veneration of the Virgin Mary. The celebrations from the mariological circle are those related to the Virgin Mary (The Nativity, The Presentation, The Annunciation, The Assumption).
Megaron The principal hall of an Aegean dwelling, oblong in shape and formed with sloping sides and a flat top, with a passage leading to an underground burial chamber.
Metope In the frieze of a Doric order, the rectangular area between triglyphs; often left plain but sometimes decorated with relief ornament.
Middle Byzantine period: The middle Byzantine period (8th – beginning of the 13th c.).
Mosaics The Monastery mosaics constitute one of the three most dominant painting styles during the end of the 11th century. The first style is that of the Daphni Monastery with the strong classical influences. The second one is the style of Ossios Loukas with the schematic figures and the third one that of the New Monastery (Nea Moni) on Chios, where the first two styles are combined.
Naos The principal enclosed area of a Greek temple, containing the cult statue of god or goddess.
Narthex A colonnaded porch in front of the facade of a church, in early Christian architecture often serving as the fourth side of an atrium; also a transverse vestibule preceding the church nave and aisles.
Nave The central, longitudinal space of a basilica church, separated from the aisles or from side chaples, and extending from the main entrance to the transept or to the apse.
Octagonal It is a variation of the cross-in-square church but in this case the dome is supported by eight pilasters peripherally. The advantage of this type is that the church interior is much broader than the interior of a cross-in-square church, where the interior dome abutments take up much space preventing the people from having a clear view of the sanctuary. Furthermore, unlike cross-in-square churches, in the octagonal ones it is easier to see the Pantokrator in the dome, since the dome is visible from the entrance because the church is bigger. However, their disadvantage is that externally these churches look massive due to the big diameter of their dome. On the contrary, cross-in-square churches are more elegant. The oldest octagonal church is the katholikon of the Monastery of Ossios Loukas in Phocis (1011). A church of this type in Athens is Aghia Sotera Lykodemou.
Opisthodomos The room at the rear of a Greek temple, behind the temple.
Pedestal A supporting substructure for a column or statue.
Pediment A triangular space formed by the raking cornices (sloping sides) and horizontal cornice of a gabled temple; also used above a door or window. If the apex or base is split, the pediment is described as broken.
Peripteral Pertaining to a building surrounded by a row of columns on all sides.
Post Byzantine period The period after the end of the Byzantine Empire, namely after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Even though in many areas of the empire, Byzantium has collapsed since 1204 (Frankish conquest), the term defines the years after the middle of the 15th century.
Pier A massive vertical support often rectangular in plan and therefore differing from a column, sometimes having its own capital and base. When combined with pilasters, columns, or shafts, it is called a compound pier. Its proportions are far more variable than a Classical column. Pier is also the term used for the solid mass between windows, doors, and arches.
Pilaster A column is flattened, rectangular shape, projecting slightly form the face of the wall.
Plinth A generally square block forming the bottom element of a column base; or the projecting lowest portion of a wall.
Portico An open, colonnaded, roofed space serving as a porch before the entrance to a building.
Pronaos The porch in font of the cella of a Greek or Roman temple formed by the projection of the side walls and a range of columns between the projections.
Rubble masonry Masonry in Byzantine churches with rubble plinths that have been placed in the church walls irregularly.
Scotia A concave molding used as the intermediate part of a base.
Shaft The cylindrical body of a column between capital and base.
Stoa In ancient Greek architecture, is a covered walkway or portico, commonly for public use. Early stoas were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere. Later examples were built as two stories, with a roof supporting the inner colonnades where shops or sometimes offices were located. They followed Ionic architecture. These buildings were open to the public; merchants could sell their goods, artists could display their artwork, and religious gatherings could take place. Stoas usually surrounded the marketplace or agora of large cities.
Stylobate The continuous platform of masonry on which a colonnade rests; the uppermost level of the stepped base (crepidoma) of a Greek temple.
Three-conch church Variation of the single-naved, free cross plan with annex of conches in the three cross arms. They derive from the early Christian martyria and at the beginning they spread in N. Africa, Syria and Armenia. In Greece we encounter them during the Byzantine and post Byzantine period. They are churches of small dimensions consisted of a basic square space covered with a dome usually supported by four barrel-vaults.
Triglyph In a Doric frieze, the projecting block marked by vertical grooves (glyphs) between the rectangular areas known as metopes.
Vault An arched ceiling or roof made of stone, brick, or concrete (cf. barrel vault, fan vault).