1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aisle

AISLE (from Lat. ala, a wing), a term which in its primary sense means the wing of a house, but is generally applied in architecture to the lateral divisions of a church or large building. The earliest example is that found in the basilica of Trajan, which had double aisles on either side of the central area; the same number existed in the original church of St Peter’s at Rome, in the basilica at Bethlehem, and according to Eusebius in the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. The aisles are divided from the nave or central area by colonnades or arcades, and may flank also the transept or choir, being distinguished as nave-aisles, transept-aisles or choir-aisles. If the choir is semi-circular, and the aisles, carried round, give access to a series of Chapels, the whole arrangement is known as the chevet. As a rule in Great Britain there is only one aisle on each side of the nave, the only exceptions being Chichester and Elgin cathedrals, where there are two. Many European cathedrals have two aisles on each side, as those of Paris, Bourges, Amiens, Troyes, St Sernin, Toulouse, Cologne, Milan, Seville, Toledo; and in those of Paris, Chartres, Amiens and Bourges, Seville and Toledo, double aisles flank the choir on each side. The cathedral at Antwerp has three aisles on each side. In some of the churches in Germany the aisles are of the same height as the nave. These churches are known as Hallenkirchen, the principal examples being St Stephen’s, Vienna, the Weissekirche at Soest, St Martin’s, Landshut, Munich cathedral, and the Marienkirche at Danzig.  (R. P. S.)