See caption
Plan of a Christian cathedral, with the narthex in the shaded area at the western end.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The narthex, also known as a galilee, is a porch or vestibule at the opposite end of a Christian church to the altar, separated from the naveCentral part of a church, used by the laiety..[1][a]Christian churches are usually laid out with the altar at the eastern end. The term is sometimes used more loosely to refer to the western part of the nave.[2]

Although part of the church building, the narthex was considered less sacred than the church proper, and thus allowed those ineligible for admittance into the general congregation, particularly catechumensThose undergoing instruction in preparation for their baptism into the Christian church. and penitents, to observe and take part in the service.[1]

In later use the narthex was often reserved for women, or was a place where monks were allowed to meet their female relatives.[2]

See caption
Galilee porch at Lincoln Cathedral
Source: Wikimedia Commons




Clarke, Michael. “Galilee.” Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, Online, Oxford University Press, 2010,
Darvill, Timothy. “Narthex.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, Oxford University Press, 2021,