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Long, narrow porch, usually colonnaded or arcaded, crossing the entire width of a church at its entrance. The narthex is usually separated from the nave by columns or a pierced wall. In Byzantine churches the space is divided into two parts: An exonarthex forms the outer entrance to the building and bounds the esonarthex, which opens onto the nave.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on narthex, visit Britannica.com.