In ecclesiastical architecture, a crossing is the intersection of the four arms of a cruciform (cross-shaped) church. In English Gothic churches, a massive crossing tower is very prevalent. The word "tower" also applies to other structures such as chapels that serve this function.
The crossing was important in earlier times when there were no electric lights or trams and people had to rely on torches or candles to guide them safely between nightfall and sunrise. Churches with crossings were often built near settlements or roads so that parishioners would not have to travel too far to worship. These days, crossings are mostly found in rural areas where buses and cars are common but they still play an important role in keeping up appearances.
There are several varieties of cross-sections of churches including octagonal, polygonal, and circular. Some medieval churches had crossings that resembled a big T with three equal branches instead of four equal arms. This type of crossing is called triapsidal because it has three parts: a base, a middle section, and a top. The word "triangular" may also be used to describe such churches.
Another unusual variation occurs when a church has two cross-arms but only one central tower or nave. These are called "quoin churches" because the shape resembles a square with one side missing.
Transept: the area of a cruciform church that is perpendicular to the main axis. The crossing is the bay where the transept crosses the main body of the church. The transept is also referred to simply as the cross. The word comes from Latin trans (across) and secare (to cut). Thus, it means across/acrossing.
The crossing is the most important part of any church building. The word comes from Latin crucifixus, meaning "crossed," and forma, "shape." So, a crossing is the shape of something that has been crossed out of one thing and into another.
In Christian churches, the crossing is the place where the arms of the church meet. This is usually at the site of the original tree under which Jesus is said to have been crucified. However, for churches built after crucifixes have been moved outside the building, the spot where the nave meets the sanctuary is called the crossing. The word is also used for other parts of the church building related to the site of the crucifixion or burial sites of other members of the Jesus family.
Transepts join together opposite corners of the church building, forming a network between them. The term can be applied to other structures such as bridges, but it is usually used to describe buildings with sides that meet at right angles.
The majority of cathedrals and grand churches have a cruciform floor design. The layout of Western European churches is typically longitudinal, in the shape of the so-called Latin Cross, with a long nave crossed by a transept. These designs are often based on the original cross formed when Jesus was crucified between two thieves. However, not all churches with a central aisle and multiple apses are necessarily crossing their floors at right angles; some may be more elliptical in shape.
The cathedral at Rheims has an unusual shape that does not fit into this pattern. It has three aisles instead of two, without any central aisle running down the middle. This makes it easier to see and attend worship services in high season when there are more people coming in. The area behind the main altar is also larger than usual, which allows for more space for artworks.
There are several reasons why most cathedrals have a cruciform floor design. First, it's the form taken by wood when it's cut horizontally, allowing for easy construction. Second, it resembles the shape of the Earth, with the north side facing up toward heaven and the south side facing down toward hell (this is called geometrical planning). Finally, it provides separation between different types of worshipers, just as our own bodies are kept separate through physical barriers such as doors and toilets.