The Icons and Structures of the Orthodox Church

how the orthodox church looks

Whenever you visit an Orthodox church, you are likely to encounter various architectural elements. These structures include the nave, narthex, and sanctuary. In this article, you will learn about the Icons and structures of these structures. We will also explore the roles of these elements in the worship experience.

Table of Contents


The iconography of the Orthodox Church is vast and rich. These images serve a number of purposes, from liturgical use to encouraging communication with the faithful. A number of books have been published on the iconography of the Church. Here is a brief overview of some of the most important icons.

During the Middle Ages, icons were popular in the East. In the 720s CE, Pope Leo III began a crusade against icons, charging that their veneration was idolatry. While many iconoclasts condemned their use, iconophiles defended them, arguing that they were not meant to be divine but were dynamic human expressions of the divine.

Icons of the Orthodox church are often depicted in portrait style. These icons depict Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the apostles, and other sacred figures. The icons often depict events from Holy Scripture and the life of the church.


The narthex of an orthodox church is the first space that a visitor enters after entering the main church. Traditionally, it served as a place to receive alms and to receive catechumens and penitents. In some churches, it also serves as a baptismal area.

Orthodox churches are divided into three main areas: the sanctuary, nave, and narthex. Each section is shaped differently, and is arranged along an axis that is aligned west to east. The orientation of a church building is significant, since it symbolizes a journey from darkness to light.

An Orthodox church narthex is similar to a Western narthex in many ways. It is a space where people can pass through and find information about the services held in the church. While there are some similarities between Western and Orthodox churches, the differences are more noticeable. Here are a few features of an Orthodox church narthex: Before entering the sanctuary, visitors should ask about the service.

The narthex of an Orthodox church is often used for chanting penitential services. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the narthex is referred to as the “esonarthex,” meaning “exonarthex.” The exonarthex is also where the Paschal vigil procession ends.


The nave is the central space in an orthodox church, and is also known as the narthex. It is the connection between the church and the world outside. The narthex is usually decorated with icons, and there are three doors in it. The central door is traditionally called the Beautiful Gate and is only used by the clergy. The two other doors are known as the Deacons’ Doors and Angel Doors. The latter are used by the deacons and servers to enter and leave the church.

The nave of an Orthodox church may vary in size, shape, and layout. In the past, two of the most common layouts were the cruciform and the open square/rectangular. The latter layout has since fallen out of favor. During Divine Liturgy, the cruciform layout is used. The center entrance is usually covered with a curtain.

The nave is a central space in an Orthodox church, and it is the largest part. However, to emphasize a sense of community, it should be kept small. In addition, the nave is traditionally reserved for worshipers who have been baptized. The word “navel” comes from the Latin word “navis,” meaning ship. Traditional Orthodox churches typically have no pews; however, in some countries, the church does have pews. In addition, kneeling is not permitted in the nave, except in special circumstances.


In an Orthodox church, the sanctuary is divided from the nave by a screen called an iconostasis. The screen is made up of icons and usually has a curtain in the center, which opens at symbolic times throughout the Service. The earliest Christian churches were built in Syria, and they always featured a sanctuary screen with columns. Byzantine iconostasis has considerable open space, while Russian iconostasis is more solid.

During the twentieth century, the Eastern Orthodox Church suffered a great deal of persecution. In the Ottoman Empire, Orthodox Greeks, Armenians, and Slavs were massacred. The 1915 Armenian genocide in Anatolia was one of the worst tragedies for the Orthodox.

The Church has been in existence for over two thousand years. Some say it is even the New Testament church. It is the “ground and pillar of truth” of Christianity. Those churches that were established after the Reformation would be referred to as “following the traditions of men.”

Scroll to Top