History of church buildings
An old English church showing Saxon architecture (rounded end)
Inside the transept of the Cathedral of Évora, Portugal
In the early days of Christianity people had to worship in secret. Christian worship was not allowed in the Roman empire, so Christians had to meet in a secret place. Sometimes they met in people’s houses or barns, sometimes they met underground. The first places that were built for Christian worship were small chapels that were cut into a rock where people could worship without being discovered.
After the death of the Roman emperor Constantine in 337 A.D. Christians were allowed to have buildings to worship in. These first churches were built on a similar plan to Roman basilicas. This plan was later used for the fine Gothic cathedrals and churches that were built at the end of the Middle Ages.