Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Religious Building Architecture. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.

1. Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

The New York Times bestselling, award winning story of the construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and the Renaissance genius who reinvented architecture to build it. On August 19, 1418, a competition concerning Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore was announced: "Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome....shall do so before the end of the month of September." The proposed dome was regarded far and wide as all but impossible to build: not only would it be enormous, but its original and sacrosanct design shunned the flying buttresses that supported cathedrals all over Europe. The dome would literally need to be erected over thin air. Of the many plans submitted, one stood out--a daring and unorthodox solution to vaulting what is still the largest dome in the world. It was offered not by a master mason or carpenter, but by a goldsmith and clockmaker named Filippo Brunelleschi, then forty-one, who would dedicate the next twenty-eight years to solving the puzzles of the dome's construction. In the process, he reinvented the field of architecture. Brunelleschi's Dome is the story of how a Renaissance genius bent men, materials, and the very forces of nature to build an architectural wonder we continue to marvel at today. Award-winning, bestselling author Ross King weaves this drama amid a background of the plagues, wars, political feuds, and the intellectual ferments of Renaissance Florence to bring the dome's creation to life in a fifteenth-century chronicle with twenty-first-century resonance.

  • Author: Ross King
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Illustrated edition (August 13, 2013)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-1620401934
  • Dimensions: 5.62 x 0.59 x 8.17 inches


2. Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

Against a backdrop of Islamophobia, Europeans are increasingly airbrushing from history their cultural debt to the Muslim world. But this legacy lives on in some of Europe's most recognizable buildings, from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament. This beautifully illustrated book reveals the Arab and Islamic roots of Europe's architectural heritage. Diana Darke traces ideas and styles from vibrant Middle Eastern centers like Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, via Muslim Spain, Venice and Sicily into Europe. She describes how medieval crusaders, pilgrims and merchants encountered Arab Muslim culture on their way to the Holy Land; and explores more recent artistic interaction between Ottoman and Western cultures, including Sir Christopher Wren's inspirations in the "Saracen" style of Gothic architecture. Recovering this long yet overlooked history of architectural "borrowing," Stealing from the Saracens is a rich tale of cultural exchange, shedding new light on Europe's greatest landmarks.

  • Author: Diana Darke
  • Publisher: Hurst (November 1, 2020)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-1787383050
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.3 x 6.4 inches


3. Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

“The wonderful cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the greatest achievements of European civilization, was on fire. The sight dazed and disturbed us profoundly. I was on the edge of tears. Something priceless was dying in front of our eyes. The feeling was bewildering, as if the earth was shaking.” —Ken Follett “A treasure of a book.” — The New Yorker In this short, spellbinding book, international bestselling author Ken Follett describes the emotions that gripped him when he learned about the fire that threatened to destroy one of the greatest cathedrals in the world—the Notre-Dame de Paris. Follett then tells the story of the cathedral, from its construction to the role it has played across time and history, and he reveals the influence that the Notre-Dame had upon cathedrals around the world and on the writing of one of Follett's most famous and beloved novels,  The Pillars of the Earth . Ken Follett will donate his proceeds from this book to the charity La Fondation du Patrimoine.

  • Author: Ken Follett
  • Publisher: Viking (October 29, 2019)
  • Genre: Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Arts & Photography


4. Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

A 1974 Caldecott Honor Book Readers worldwide recognize Caldecott Medal winner David Macaulay's imaginary Cathedral of Chutreaux. This critically acclaimed book has been translated into a dozen languages and remains a classic of children's literature and a touchstone for budding architects. Cathedral' s numerous awards include a prestigious Caldecott Honor and designation as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year for Macaulay's intricate pen-and-ink illustrations. Journey back to centuries long ago and visit the fictional people of twelfth-, thirteenth-, and fourteenth-century Europe whose dreams, like Cathedral, stand the test of time. This title has been selected as a Common Core text exemplar (Grades 6–8, Informational Texts: Science, Mathematics, and Technical Studies).

  • Author: David Macaulay
  • Publisher: Sandpiper; unknown edition (October 26, 1981)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-0395316689
  • Dimensions: 9 x 0.19 x 12 inches


5. Shinto the Kami Way

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

"An excellently rounded introduction by an eminent Shinto scholar."— Library Journal Shinto, the indigenous faith of the Japanese people, continues to fascinate and mystify both the casual visitor to Japan and the long-time resident. Relatively unknown among the religions of the world, Shinto: The Kami Way provides an enlightening window into this Japanese faith. In its general aspects, Shinto is more than a religious faith. It is an amalgam of attitudes, ideas, and ways of doing things that through two millennia and more have become an integral part of the manner of the Japanese people. Shinto is both a personal faith in the kami—objects of worship in Shinto and an honorific for noble, sacred spirits—and a communal way of life according to the mind of the kami. This introduction unveils Shinto's spiritual characteristics and discusses the architecture and function of Shinto shrines. Further examination of Shinto's lively festivals, worship, music, and sacred regalia illustrates Shinto's influence on all levels of Japanese life. Fifteen photographs, numerous drawings and Dr. Ono's text introduce the reader to two millennia of indigenous Japanese belief in the kami and communal life. Chapters include: The Kami Way Shrines Worship and Festivals Political and Social Characteristics Some Spiritual Characteristics

  • Author: Sokyo Ono Ph.D.
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Illustrated edition (April 15, 2004)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-0804835572
  • Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.4 x 8 inches


6. Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

This unique book delves into the deep meanings of liturgical art and architecture, and by association, the Sacred Liturgy itself. It is meant to help pastors, architects, artists, members of building committees, seminarians, and everyone interested in liturgical art and architecture come to grips with the many competing themes which are at work in church buildings today. The object of Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy is help the reader to drink deeply from the wells of the tradition, to look with fresh eyes at things thought to be outdated or meaningless, and glean the principles which underlie the richness of the Catholic faith. Part one presents an emerging area of study: Architectural Theology Part two introduces the readers for the first time to the scriptural foundations of church architecture Part three focuses on the classical tradition of architecture Part four examines iconography as eschatological and Part five concludes with a discussion of the Twentieth Century and where we are now in the Age of the Church. Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy is a foundational sourcebook for studying, designing, building, and renovating Catholic churches, this book is intended to find the middle of the road between differing and sometimes conflicting theories of liturgical architecture. It will give architects and building committees the theological language and tools to understand the elements of church design by examining past architecture and will help decision makers link these principles to their current building projects. Winner of two Catholic Press Association awards: Design and Production, Second Place History, Second Place

  • Author: Denis R. McNamara
  • Publisher: Hillenbrand Books; Studies Series edition (November 9, 2009)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-1595250278
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.75 x 11 inches


7. How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

Small enough to fit in a pocket yet serious enough to provide real answers, this primer is a must-have for architecture and history buffs, tourists, and churchgoers interested in decoding the styles and symbols of religious buildings. Every building contains clues embedded in its design that identify not only its architectural style but also who designed it, what kind of congregation it was built for, and why. This practical yet charming handbook is the key to decoding the style, history, evolution, and social significance of religious buildings. Not strictly limited to churches, it also covers abbeys, chapels, and monasteries, among other structures. Organized according to architectural element (windows, domes, arches, etc.), each element is presented in chronological order. Additional chapters explore the architectural influence of geography, history, and various creeds, along with an illustrated timeline showing how, where, and in many cases why certain church features evolved through the centuries. There is also a useful introduction to naming each component of a church, from vaults to buttresses and transepts to apses. All entries are illustrated with period engravings and line drawings. This book will be invaluable for architecture buffs and anyone who has ever wondered why classic New England churches are white with little ornament, why Quaker meetinghouses have no altars, or why Episcopalians traditionally favored the Gothic style.

  • Author: Denis R. McNamara
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (April 12, 2011)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-0847835980
  • Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.64 x 6.47 inches


8. Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards (Messages from the Dead)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

Guide to Historic Cemeteries Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Tui Snider is a reference book for genealogists, history buffs, ghost hunters and others seeking to learn the forgotten meanings of cemetery symbols in historic graveyards. Find out: Why garden cemeteries were America’s first public parks The difference between a cemetery and a graveyard How the skull and crossbones evolved into cherubs Why symbols matter Learn about: The different types of American cemeteries The history of grave robbing The symbolic meaning of coins, stones, and seashells at grave sites Common Latin phrases on headstones Identify: Saints, angels, and other cemetery statuary Symbols for secret societies and clubs Different types of crosses Common cemetery architecture styles The symbolic meaning of plants, flowers, and trees Different types of headstone styles, monuments, and mausoleums

  • Author: Tui Snider
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (May 30, 2017)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-1547047215
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.52 x 8.5 inches


9. The Gothic Enterprise: A Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

The great Gothic cathedrals of Europe are among the most astonishing achievements of Western culture. Evoking feelings of awe and humility, they make us want to understand what inspired the people who had the audacity to build them. This engrossing book surveys an era that has fired the historical imagination for centuries. In it Robert A. Scott explores why medieval people built Gothic cathedrals, how they built them, what conception of the divine lay behind their creation, and how religious and secular leaders used cathedrals for social and political purposes. As a traveler’s companion or a rich source of knowledge for the armchair enthusiast, The Gothic Enterprise helps us understand how ordinary people managed such tremendous feats of physical and creative energy at a time when technology was rudimentary, famine and disease were rampant, the climate was often harsh, and communal life was unstable and incessantly violent. While most books about Gothic cathedrals focus on a particular building or on the cathedrals of a specific region, The Gothic Enterprise considers the idea of the cathedral as a humanly created space. Scott discusses why an impoverished people would commit so many social and personal resources to building something so physically stupendous and what this says about their ideas of the sacred, especially the vital role they ascribed to the divine as a protector against the dangers of everyday life. Scott’s narrative offers a wealth of fascinating details concerning daily life during medieval times. The author describes the difficulties master-builders faced in scheduling construction that wouldn’t be completed during their own lifetimes, how they managed without adequate numeric systems or paper on which to make detailed drawings, and how climate, natural disasters, wars, variations in the hours of daylight throughout the year, and the celebration of holy days affected the pace and timing of work. Scott also explains such things as the role of relics, the quarrying and transporting of stone, and the incessant conflict cathedral-building projects caused within their communities. Finally, by drawing comparisons between Gothic cathedrals and other monumental building projects, such as Stonehenge, Scott expands our understanding of the human impulses that shape our landscape.

  • Author: Robert A. Scott
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition, With a New Preface (June 28, 2011)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-0520269996
  • Dimensions: 5.63 x 0.8 x 9.25 inches


10. Church Curiosities: Strange Objects and Bizarre Legends (Shire Library)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in Religious Building Architecture - August 2021

A guide to the eccentric and rare objects, tales, and legends that lie hidden behind the doors of Britain's churches. Why does Frensham Church contain a cauldron said to have belonged to fairies? What stories lurk behind Lincoln Cathedral's imp, Westminster Abbey's macabre royal effigies, and Salisbury Cathedral's 'boy bishop' statue? Why do Britain's churches contain dragon-slaying spears, monstrous cows' ribs, pagan Roman altars, reindeer horns, and archbishops' mummified skulls? David Castleton takes you on a journey through the fascinating world of lepers' squints, sanctuary knockers, virgins' garlands, and pancake bells, forever altering your view of Britain's churches and cathedrals.

  • Author: David Castleton
  • Publisher: Shire Publications (May 18, 2021)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Architecture
  • ISBN: 978-1784424442
  • Dimensions: 6.41 x 0.22 x 8.31 inches