The Great Temple of Thud and Lott in Estalia

This great building was contructed 1732-58 after a great fire destroyed the old temple on the same site just outside the Northgate of the Estalian capital city Lotta (some of the crypts, such as the royal burial chambers, being original, as is the Bell Tower). There is another temple farther east, on the Market Square, but this was never as elaborate. The architect was Lugo Poth, who had studied under Wren in London. It is considered his masterpiece, although it is a peculiar-looking building, combining the features of a Roman basilica and a Gothic cathedral. It was cursed by conservatives when it was built -- 'too Christer a place and not proper to our gods'. To provide an idea of its size, a traditional temple is shown below it on the plan.

Ground Floor

As with all such temples, the sanctuaries of Thud and Lott, in this case unlighted two-storied domed oval grottos with a holy water well between them, are behind the altar, guarded by the traditional four demons. There is a large marble statue of the two gods behind the pulpit. To either side of the pulpit are carved wooden pews for priests and other religious dignitaries; also the choir (along the back). Services are always conducted from the pulpit, usually by the High Prebend, but on great occasions by the High Priest or Hierophant. In front of the pulpit is the sacrificial altar and the flame pit, which always has an oil fire burning. There are three chapels along the south side, dedicated to minor deities, one of whom is Paron-dit, Thud's son, and whose chapel serves as a war memorial. These chapels are vaulted in Gothic style but only one story high. Opposite them are the Royal and VIP boxed pew chambers (behind which is the Archduke's withdrawing suite). The two-bayed Royal Mausoleum chapel, with a crypt under it, is also on this side, behind one of the VIP boxes and the traditional Mothers' Room -- it should be noted that women with small infants were kept isolated from general public presence. Two staircases on each side of the nave led down to the general crypts and up to the Triforium seating galleries. The Nave has four massive arches in its eastern part, before the great two-storied carved wooden sanctuary screen; the west side has a square lantern roof (i.e., skylighted) and has various entrances: another memorial chapel (generally for politicians and rich merchants), the Royal Chapel, the Vestry, the Organ Loft, and the Main Entrance and Bell Tower. Note the Penitents' Room at the northwest. Condemned criminals spent their last two days here, ostensibly repenting their sins before execution. The prison (not for simple criminals, but for heretics and political dissidents is located just north of the temple).

The area behind the Great Screen, while very lofty, has a plain wooden arched ceiling, painted blue, with constellations in yellow, to represent the sky (rather like Grand Central Station in New York). Along both sides of the Nave are the Triforium Galleries, which had seating for more prominent citizens (there are no seats in the nave itself). They have windows, as the building is set back at this point behind the chapel and royal suite roofs. Rehearsal and robing rooms for the choir are over the vestry and penitents' room. There is a strong musical tradition in this temple, as exemplified by the very fine 18th Century German organ (from Bremen). Since, obviously, Christian church music could not be featured, the repertoire consisted of European opera scores with librettos rewritten to detail Thud/Lott mythological stories. Many famous Estalian poets, including Sar-bin Kinfolk, the most esteemed, were involved in these adaptations. The upper level of the Mothers' gallery, the groined upper part of the western bay of the Royal Chapel, the vault of the entrance chamber, and Vergers' quarters in and by the Bell Tower, complete this floor.

The third above-ground level is the Clerestory, or top part of the nave, which has a hammer-beamed roof between the arches. The flat roof of the sanctuary and the parapet of the Thud/Lott Tower are accessed from spiral stairs leading down to the collegiate pews. Pinnacles along the side of the nave on the outer side of the triforium roof carry gargoyle statues of the protective demons (who have three aspects and thus can be portrayed three times). At this level is the bell-ringing chamber, but the bells themselves are on the floor above at the top of the tower, which has a flat roof. The entrance tower has a two-story chapter house or meeting room, then continues up to a steeple -- the highest structure in Lotta, a prominent landmark. A priests' hall overlies the choir and music rooms. "The Hermit" is a traditional resident at the top of the gods' tower, an agile hunchback of primitive intelligence (no credit to Victor Hugo); his duty is to maintain all the rooftop repairs and cleanup.

For comparison, here is a typical Estalian Temple