What is an aisle?
Why did churches have aisles?
Usually people stood mainly in the nave, and they used the aisles for walking around, so they wouldn’t disturb the people who were participating in the Mass. Sometimes there were people selling snacks or souvenirs in the aisles, too. On a holiday if the church was very crowded, people would stand in the aisles, too.
Seeing an aisle on a floor plan
And then there’s double aisles…
Some big churches had double aisles – two aisles next to each other, with a row of columns separating them. Check out a church with double aisles. Sometimes people say that a church with double aisles has “five naves” – a big nave in the middle, and two small naves (or aisles) on each side.
Learn by doing: visit a church and check out the aisles there
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).