The iconostasis (from Greek εἰκώνα, ἡ, Ikona, " the image that resembles an object, the image of " and στάση "stand " or " stand" ) is a decorated with icons wall with three doors in Orthodox churches between the inner nave and the sanctuary ( Bema ) is.


The nave (Greek naos ) is the main part of the church; sit or stand believers. The sanctuary ( also called simply altar) the place is east of the nave. The sanctuary is usually one to three steps higher than the Naos. In the chancel is a normally round table, on which the deacon reads the liturgy. The iconostasis is the wall that stands between the altar and the Naos. Although the iconostasis is often quite high, it rarely touches the ceiling. This allows the faithful, good to hear the words, or the singing of the priest.

In large churches the iconostasis is part of the overall architectural composition, it is one but not necessarily standard. So there are many examples where a donor later donated an iconostasis. Sometimes this also number is set up for series for decades. In smaller churches, especially in chapels without regular liturgies, can be omitted for reasons of space, the iconostasis, as well as in non-Orthodox church buildings which are used temporarily; partly there also portable and collapsible iconostasis be used, which may only be installed during the service. In the Western diaspora is partially stylized and reduced the iconostasis, to provide greater insight into the altar area with the purpose of the faithful.

General construction of the iconostasis

It consists of at least

  • The royal door and the icons above
  • The pair of icons next to the royal door
  • The southern door
  • The northern door

In larger churches can connect upwardly and outwardly more icons.

In the middle ( from the viewer's ) right an icon of Jesus Christ hangs in shape after his resurrection, left, an icon of the [ [ Theotokos ], and in between is the royal door or the sacred gate, by which the priest in the Book of Gospels and in the Eucharist Christ brings to the community. The two next outer icons on the left show the patron saint of the church, turn right into the North Slavic churches St. Nicholas of Myra, in the other churches of John the Baptist. Small Christ and icons of the Virgin also depend on the column of the royal door, kissing the priest in the liturgy.

Royal door

The royal door in the middle of the iconostasis consists of two door leaves with representations of the four Evangelists, the Archangel Gabriel and Blessed Mother. Above and below the Sts. Gabriel and Mary are the icons of two evangelists, usually with their iconographic attribute (Matthew: winged figure, Markus: lion, Luke Bull, John, eagle). About the royal door hangs an icon of the Last Supper. It is the great icon, usually the icon or the saints or of the feast, which the church is dedicated.

North and South door

Is the portrait of an angel, either the Archangel Gabriel and Michael or two seraphim with six wings on each door. South of Gabriel, Michael is represented north.

The iconostasis in the liturgy

The acclaimed by the Byzantine Rite Orthodox church consists of three parts, the offertory behind the closed iconostasis, the catechumens - worship and the Eucharist.

During the Katechumenliturgie the deacon enters the nave through the small doors, the royal door is only traversed by the priest, twice. During the service, the first time the so-called small catchment with the Gospel book for reading of the Gospel to the community After the dismissal of the catechumens, the door will remain open during the Eucharist, and the altar is thus visible during the presentation of the gifts. After the preparatory prayers of the large catchment with bread and cup takes place and the community celebrates the Communion.