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Architecture and its classification


The history of architecture is concerned more with religious buildings than with any other type, because
in most past cultures the universal and exalted appeal of religion made the church or temple the most
expressive, the most permanent, and the most influential building in any community.

The typology of religious architecture is complex, because no basic requirements such as those that
characterize domestic architecture are common to all religions and because the functions of any one
religion involve many different kinds of activity, all of which change with the evolution of cultural

Temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues serve as places of worship and as shelters for the images,
relics, and holy areas of the cult. In the older religions, the temple was not always designed for
communal use. In ancient Egypt and India it was considered the residence of the deity, and entrance
into the sanctum was prohibited or reserved for priests; in ancient Greece it contained an accessible cult
image, but services were held outside the main facade; and in the ancient Near East and in the Mayan
and Aztec architecture of ancient Mexico, where the temple was erected at the summit of pyramidal
mounds, only privileged members of the community were allowed to approach.

Few existing religions

are so exclusive. Beliefs as
dissimilar as Christianity,
Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam
are based on communal
participation in rites held inside
each religion’s place of worship.
The buildings have even
evolved into similar plans,
because of a common
requirement that the
maximum number of
worshippers be able to face the
focal point of the service
(the mosque’s “point” is
the wall facing the direction
of Mecca, the city of
Muhammad’s birth and
therefore the most sacred of
all Islamic religious sites).
Consequently, the Muslims
were able to adopt the Byzantine church tradition, modern synagogues are often scarcely
distinguishable from churches, and early Protestantism absorbed Catholic architecture with only minor
revision (elimination of subsidiary chapels and altars, repositories of relics, and some symbolic

Expressing relationship to the afterlife, funerary art is not always architectural, since it may be purely
symbolic and therefore suitable to sculptural treatment, as in the classic Greek, medieval, and modern
tomb. Funerary architecture is produced by societies
whose belief in the afterlife is materialistic and by
individuals who want to perpetuate and symbolize
their temporal importance. Monumental tombs have
been produced in ancient Egypt (pyramids), Hellenistic
Greece (tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, which is
the source of the word mausoleum), ancient Rome
(tomb of Hadrian), Renaissance Europe
(Michelangelo’s Medici Chapel, Florence), and Asia
(Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India). Modern
tomb design has lost vitality, though it remains
as elaborate (Monument to Victor Emmanuel II,
Rome) or as meaningful in terms of power (Lenin
Mausoleum, Moscow) as before. The exceptional
examples are partly sculptural in character
(e.g., Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Tomb, St.
Louis, Missouri; Walter Gropius’s war memorial,
Weimar, Germany).

A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and
is also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from the Latin fortis
("strong") and facere ("to make").

From very early history to modern times, walls have often been necessary for cities to survive in an ever-
changing world of invasion and conquest. Some settlements in the Indus Valley Civilization were the first
small cities to be fortified. In ancient Greece, large stone walls had been built in Mycenaean Greece,
such as the ancient site of Mycenae (famous for the huge stone blocks of its 'cyclopean' walls). A Greek
phrourion was a fortified collection of buildings used as a military garrison, and is the equivalent of the
Roman castellum or English fortress. These constructions mainly served the purpose of a watch tower,
to guard certain roads, passes, and lands that might threaten the kingdom. Though smaller than a real
fortress, they acted as a border guard rather than a real strongpoint to watch and maintain the border.

The art of setting out a military camp or constructing a fortification traditionally has been called
"castrametation" since the time of the Roman legions. Fortification is usually divided into two branches:
permanent fortification and field fortification. There is also an intermediate branch known as semi-
permanent fortification. Castles are fortifications which are regarded as being distinct from the generic
fort or fortress in that they are a residence of a monarch or noble and command a specific defensive

It is the architecture which is employed in constructing buildings for the purposes of civil life, in
distinction from military and naval architecture, as private houses, palaces, churches, etc.


A monument is a type of—usually three-

dimensional—structure that was explicitly
created to commemorate a person or event, or
which has become relevant to a social group
as a part of their remembrance of historic
times or cultural heritage, due to its artistic,
historical, political, technical or architectural
importance. Examples of monuments include
statues, (war) memorials, historical buildings,
archaeological sites, and cultural assets. If there is a
public interest in its preservation, a monument can for example be
listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.