What is a transept? - Medieval Architecture
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What is a transept?

Rouen transept
Transept of Rouen cathedral (France, 1200s AD)

Transepts were part of medieval Christian churches. Most churches were shaped like a cross, to remind people about Jesus' crucifixion, and the transept is the cross-piece of the cross.

Sometimes there were big rose windows (round windows) and doors in each end of the transept.

Chartres floor plan
Floor plan of Chartres Cathedral

Here is a floor plan of Chartres Cathedral, looking down at the church as if you were floating over it. You can see the nave at the west end, the apse at the east end, and the transept between them.

Bibliography and further reading:

Arches to Zigzags: An Architecture ABC, by Michael J. Crosbie (2000). Shows what an arch is, or a gable, or an eave. For younger kids.

Eyewitness: Building, by Philip Wilkinson, Dave King, and Geoff Dann (2000). Lavishly illustrated, like other Eyewitness books for kids, and with good explanations of most architectural terms.

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, by David Macaulay (1983).

What's an apse?
What's a nave?
What's an aisle?
Basilicas
Cathedrals
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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