Cathedral - Cathedral Buildings

Cathedral Buildings

Cathedral buildings, especially those dating from the Medieval period, are frequently the grandest of churches in the diocese (and country). The ancient cathedrals of England, of Northern France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Sicily, the Baroque cathedrals of South America, and many individual cathedrals from Italy and other parts of Europe, are among the largest and finest religious buildings. Many are renowned for their architecture or their decorative features such as sculpture, stained glass and frescos.

While cathedral buildings, in general, tend to be large, size and grandeur have rarely been essential requirements. Early Celtic and Saxon cathedrals tended to be of diminutive size, as is the Byzantine so-called Little Metropole Cathedral of Athens. In Italy, with a few notable exceptions such as Florence Cathedral and Milan Cathedral, cathedrals are numerous and are often similar in form and size to monastic or large parish churches. In modern times, where functionality is the foremost consideration, a cathedral church may be a modest structure.

Cathedrals of monastic foundation, and some of secular clergy have cloisters which traditionally provided an open area where secular activities took place protected from wind and rain. Some cathedrals also have a chapter house where the chapter could meet. In England, where these buildings have survived, they are often octagonal. A cathedral may front onto the main square of a town, as in Florence, or it may be set in a walled close as at Canterbury. There may be a number of associated monastic or clergy buildings, a bishop's palace and often a school to educate the choristers.

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