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Rotunda (architecture): Map

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Romanesque village church in Selo, Slovenia
The most well known Danish rotunda is the village parochial church at Østerlars.


Beehive, Wellington, NZ


Rotunda - Öskü, Hungary.


A rotunda (from Italian rotonda) is any building with a circular ground plan, often covered by a dome. It can also refer to a round room within a building (a famous example being within the United States Capitolmarker in Washington, D.C.marker). The Pantheonmarker in Romemarker is a famous rotunda. A Band Rotunda is a circular bandstand, usually with a dome. An outcrop around said building.

Rotunda in Central Europe

The rotunda have historical and architectural value because it was widespread in the medieval Central Europe. Great number of parochial churches were built in this form in the 9-11th Century A.D. in Central Europe. This type of circular shaped parochial buildings can be found in great number in Hungarymarker, Bohemia, Polandmarker, Croatiamarker, Austriamarker, Bayernmarker, Dalmatia, Germanymarker Czech Republicmarker. Sometime it was thought as descending structure from the Roman Pantheon, however, it can be found mainly not on the Roman territories, but Central Europe. Generally its size was 6-9 meters inner diameter and the apsis was directed toward east. Sometimes 3 or 4 apsis were glued to the central circle and this type has relatives even in the Caucasus.

Rotunda in the Carpathian Basin

Several types of rotunda can be found in the Carpathian Basin, in the Medieval Hungary. The role of this building can be deciphered from the gradual enlargements of ancient small village churches. Many of them stands today (Nagytótlak, Kallósd, Kissikátor, Bény, Süvéte). Many places the ancient foundations were excavated and conserved. In the form of the village church of Sárospatakmarker we can see a simple circular „nave” and an apsis in East. The church of Alagi major at Dunakeszimarker was enlarged in the direction of the apsis in the XIV.th C. A greater enlargement of the central rotunda can be observed at Isaszegmarker where the extension extended toward east and west directions and the rotunda foundations can be seen in the central portion of the nave of the gothic church. In many cases the rotunda was used as the apsis of the new larger church of the village (Bagod-Szentpál, Hidegségmarker, Vágkeresztur, Ipolykiskeszi, Herencsény, Szalonna). Such half circle apsis is preserved all around the Carpathian basin. The most interesting relation is with the rotunda of six apsis, which can be found at Karcsamarker, Gerény, Kiszombormarker in Hungary and several places in Armeniamarker (Aragatz, Bagaran, Bagnayr, Botshor, Kiagmis Alti).

Rotunda in the Caucasus

There is an interesting connection between Central European and Caucasian rotundas of the 9-11. C. A. D. Several Armenian built rotunda churches have sixfold arched central apsis, i. e. at Aragatz, Bagaranmarker, Bagnayr, Botshor, Kiagmis Alti in Armeniamarker. At the same time eightfold arched central buildings (rotunda) are also frequently occurring in Armenia: Animarker, Irind, Varzhahan, Ninozminda. It was a suggestion (Csemegi J.) that there was not only western European but Eastern Caucasian relation for architects of Hungary of this age of king I. Stephen of Hungary.

Notable Rotundas

Religious buildings



Buildings for entertainment



Residential buildings



Buildings for learning



Government buildings



See also



Outer references

  • Vera, Gervers-Molnár (1972): A középkori Magyarország rotundái. (Rotunda in the Medieval Hungary). Akadémiai, Budapest
  • József, Csemegi (1949): A tarnaszentmáriai templom hajójának stíluskritikai vizsgálata. (Studies on the Nave of the Church at Tarnaszentmária.) in: Antiquitas Hungarica III (1949), 92-107.
  • Sena Sekulić-Gvozdanović (1994): Templom erődítések Horvátországban. (Fortresses in Croatia). Tankönyvkiadó, Zágráb. http://mars.elte.hu/varak/aahrtemplomvarak/hr%20templomvarak.htm
  • Osterlar Church in Danmark http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%98sterlars_kyrka



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