There are many differences between Orthodox churches and mosques. For one, both have domes (Onion domes symbolize heavenly glory). In addition, both have circular chandeliers and fabric veiling. They also lack pews. And they have different designs. But they have one thing in common: they both emphasize equality before God.
Onion domes symbolize heavenly glory
Onion domes are a common feature of Orthodox churches. They often appear in groups of three or five, and each dome represents one of Jesus Christ’s many personalities. Vasily Tatischev was one of the first to record this interpretation. He believed that the five-domed design originated with Patriarch Nikon, who believed that the central dome symbolized himself and that the four lateral domes represented the four evangelists. Unfortunately, there is no direct evidence that this is the case.
In Russia, onion-domes are a popular symbol of the Russian people, and one of the main distinguishing characteristics of Orthodox churches. They were originally used for practical reasons, but today, their meaning is more complex than that. According to religious philosopher Yevgeny Trubetskoy, an onion-shaped dome may symbolize a burning candle, which is a religious and aesthetic attitude.
They have no seats or pews
Some Orthodox churches resemble mosques, with no seats or pews. The reason for this is largely cultural. When the first mosques appeared in the Middle East, the design was similar to the Eastern Christian Church. The Hagia Sophia was the largest church in Christendom when it was constructed, but it did not have pews. As such, Muslims copied the Eastern Church’s design for their own mosque, but took the idea of no chairs during worship.
In the early twentieth century, large numbers of Orthodox Church members migrated to the United States. Most Orthodox churches have no pews or seats, and the congregation stands or kneels during the service. In some churches, elders sit on chairs along the walls. Some have armrests and are narrow.
They have a circular chandelier
Orthodox churches have a circular chandelier that is similar to those found in mosques. However, these chandeliers are not necessarily made from glass. Oil lamps, which are used to light the church, produce smoke and create soot. This can damage wall paintings and icons. So, omitting them from Orthodox churches is not an option. To overcome this problem, some Orthodox churches place candles in the narthex of the church. While this is problematic, churches can use ventilating hoods to help transfer smoke outside. Candles are also good for lighting an icon without overwhelming the congregation.
A good-quality chandelier can be fixed in place to swing. It is also important to check that the structure is fixed well enough to prevent it from swaying. Unlike modern lighting, a chandelier’s flames can respond to air currents and move. Moreover, the flames in a chandelier are made of glass, which has a natural iridescent surface due to centuries of exposure to the earth.
They have a fabric veiling
One of the most striking similarities between the architecture of Orthodox churches and mosques is the fabric veiling covering the altar. Despite the difference in their construction, both types of churches have the same concept of equality before God. However, both types of churches differ in the type of art they display. In addition, orthodox churches have different interior designs.
In the past, only Orthodox Christians were allowed to enter the nave, but that practice has largely been abandoned. Today, lay visitors, including those who aren’t Orthodox, are allowed to enter the narthex and stand in the nave.
They have an iconostasis
The iconostasis is an important part of Orthodox churches. It divides the Holy of Holies from the accessible portion of the church. This feature is often associated with Byzantine architecture, which is also common in Orthodox churches today. It is particularly prominent in the Hagia Sophia, an ancient Christian basilica that was also an imperial mosque. It is now a museum and contains a fifty-foot-high, silver iconostasis. The name Hagia Sophia means “Holy Wisdom,” and the iconostasis is a significant part of this structure.
In Orthodox churches, the icons on the iconostasis are grouped into tiers. The third tier is dedicated to the Twelve Great Feasts, which symbolize Christ’s salvation of fallen mankind. The fourth and fifth tiers, which are unique to major cathedrals, depict holy prophets and forefathers, such as Abraham and Isaac. Finally, the top row contains images of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Cross.