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Building for Christian worship. The earliest Western churches were based on the plan of the Roman basilica. In Constantinople, Anatolia, and Eastern Europe, the Orthodox church adopted the symmetrical Greek-cross plan, which had four wings of equal size projecting from a central, square, domed area (seeByzantine architecture). The late 11th century saw increased complexity in cathedrals, but the innovative hall church did not establish itself until the 14th century. The basilica and hall church dominated Western church design until the mid-20th century. Modernization of rituals and an innovative spirit have resulted in architectural experimentation that sometimes departs completely from traditional forms.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on church, visit Britannica.com.