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To the two-room structure is often added aisles, a tower, chapels, and vestries and sometimes transepts and mortuary chapels.The additional chambers may be part of the original plan, but in the case of a great many old churches, the building has been extended piecemeal, its various parts testifying to its long architectural history.
The matter is complicated by the fact that buildings put up for one purpose may have been re-used for another, that new building techniques may permit changes in style and size, that changes in liturgical practice may result in the alteration of existing buildings and that a building built by one religious group may be used by a successor group with different purposes.
The simplest church building comprises a single meeting space, built of locally available material and using the same skills of construction as the local domestic buildings.
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These large, often ornate and architecturally prestigious buildings were dominant features of the towns and countryside in which they stood.
However, far more numerous were the parish churches in Christendom, the focus of Christian devotion in every town and village.
It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions.
From the birth of Christianity to the present, the most significant objects of transformation for Christian architecture and design were the great churches of Byzantium, the Romanesque abbey churches, Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance basilicas with its emphasis on harmony.
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