Malankara World

Church Architecture - Syrian Orthodox Church

There are a variety of architectural styles within the Orthodox world, each with its own distinctive features and origins. Of course, many of the earliest churches were of the basilica style, often comprising three aisles separated by rows of pillars.

Interior View of St. Mary's Church. Manarcadu, Kerala

The focus of all Orthodox churches is the altar, which is separated from the rest of the church by a curtain. In the center of the altar one finds the altar table, upon which the Eucharist is celebrated. The altar is considered the "holy of holies" within an Orthodox church, for it is here that the Holy Mysteries are celebrated and the Body and Blood of Christ is reserved in the tabernacle on the holy altar table. The Book of the Gospels also rests upon the altar table. Only those who have specific functions within the altar are permitted to enter it.

Madbaho or alter at St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu, Kerala

Evangelion Table inside the Alter - St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu

A look at the ornate roof of the alter - St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu

St. Mary with Baby Jesus - Alter at St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu

The main part of every Orthodox church is known as the nave. It is here that the faithful gather for worship, that the singers, readers and chanters fulfill their functions, etc. Those in the nave focus their attention on the altar, in which the celebration of the services and sacraments is based. They also focus their attention on those liturgical rites which take place in the nave, such as the reading of scripture, various processions, the celebration of baptisms, weddings, and funerals, etc.

Looking at the alter from the nave - Puthuppally St. George Church, Kerala

Interior of Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church, Kerala

Interior of St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu showing the screen that separates the alter from the rest of the church

Finally, the third part of every Orthodox church is the vestibule, or narthex. Traditionally this is the "entryway" into the church. Not only does the vestibule serve as a "buffer" of sorts between "the world" and "the Kingdom" as represented by the church building proper, but it also has served a variety of purposes at different times and in different places.

Exterior of St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu

Exterior of St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu

Exterior of St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu

Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church Exterior, Kerala

Kothamangalam Church, Kerala

St. Mary's Church, Cherai, Kerala

Night view of Manarcadu Church during Festival

Description courtesy OCA


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