Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Rome Church Orientations

Today's #30DayMapChallenge is to create a map with polygons. My Church Orientations map displays Roman churches as extruded polygons. The compass rose on the map also visualizes the orientation of all the churches in the map view.

Since the 8th Century churches have tended to be built facing towards the east. The main focus of a church, the alter, is placed at the east end of the church, often in an apse. The major entrance to the church is often placed at the west end. In fact the word 'orientation' actually comes from the practice of constructing buildings to face the east. Building a church the other way around, with the entrance at the east and the apse at the western end, is called 'occidentation'.

When early Christians prayed they would face towards the east. Hence the tradition of building churches with the alter towards the east. One theory for why Christians pray towards the east is that the beginnings of the organized church was in Europe and worshipers were praying in the direction of Jerusalem. Another theory for why churches face east is because they have been aligned to where the sun rises on each church's saint day.

My Church Orientations map uses the building footprints (the lines which define the outline of the churches) for the compass rose. In other words the compass rose shows the orientation of all the church walls (in the current map view).

I obtained the building outlines for Rome's churches using this Overpass Turbo query. The compass rose code I stole from Vladimir Agafonkin's amazing Street Orientations map.

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