Architectural glossary

The importance of the program to conserve and restore the temples built during the missionary period of Baja California Sur makes it indispensable to have a vocabulary that serves as the basis for the nomenclature of the architectural elements.

As a reference guide and to complement traveler guides, this brief section provides some definitions.

Abacus: A plate or square slab that forms the upper part of a capital and establishes the union with the architrave – the main beam that rests across the top of the columns.

Capital: Carved stone that forms the topmost member of a column and broadens the columns area of support.

Battlement: Exterior columns of old fortifications. The original function was defensive. However, over time, battlements became an ornamental motif.

Atrium: External space that precedes a church, sometimes enclosed by a fence or wall of masonry.

Low Relief: Sculpting method where the design stands out from the surface to a lesser degree.

Baluster: A series of short columns or pillars that support a rail.

Festoon: Decorative carving representing a garland of flowers or leaves woven together.

Niche: Hollow in a wall, usually semi-cylindrical.

Oculi: Circular opening or lighting intended to illuminate or ventilate.

Presbytery: Elevated section of the nave where the main altar is located.

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