In architecture, an ambulatory is a covered walkway or passageway that provides a path for movement around a building or within a larger interior space. Ambulatories can be found in a variety of building types, including churches, monasteries, museums, and galleries.
In religious buildings, an ambulatory is often found in the choir or apse, and is used to provide a processional path for priests, monks, or other religious figures. It may also be used to provide access to side chapels or altars. In secular buildings, an ambulatory may be used to connect different galleries or exhibition spaces.
Ambulatories may be open or covered, depending on the building type and the climate of the region. They can also be highly decorative, with intricate architectural details such as columns, arches, and vaulted ceilings. In some cases, ambulatories may also feature art or decorative elements such as mosaics, frescoes, or sculptures.
One notable example of an ambulatory is found in the Romanesque and Gothic architecture of medieval European churches, where it often surrounds the apse and choir. In these cases, the ambulatory typically features a series of radiating chapels, or apsidioles, which provide additional space for altars or devotional areas.
Overall, ambulatories are an important architectural feature that provide both practical and aesthetic benefits to a building. They can help to organize movement and circulation, provide access to important areas, and add visual interest and architectural detail to the overall design.
A continuous aisle in a circular building, as in a church.