Main part of a Christian church, extending from the entrance (the narthex) to the transept or chancel (area around the altar). In a basilican church (seebasilica), which has side aisles, nave refers only to the central section. Medieval naves were generally divided into many bays, producing the effect of great length. During the Renaissance, the nave format became more flexible, and the nave was divided into fewer compartments, giving a feeling of spaciousness and balanced proportion among the height, length, and width, as in St. Paul's Cathedral.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on nave, visit Britannica.com.