The main structural characteristics of Romanesque churches are the stone tunnel or barrel vaulting of the nave, with thick, buttressed walls to support the weight. Groin vaults, i.e. two barrel vaults joined at right angles are sometimes used because of the weight of the stone aulting on the walls, there was little allowance for windows, which are quite small, leaving the interior rather dim.
Semicircular or round arches curve over windows and entrances, and between the solid pillars or piers separating nave and aisles. In the bigger Romanesque churches, the ceiling of the nave is normally higher than the ceilings of the side aisles. The section of the nave walls above the side aisles, called the clerestory, is punctured by small windows.
In many churches, a cupola or dome projects over the crossing (Zamora, Toro, the old Cathedral of Salamanca, Almazán, Frómista), and a solid, square tower stands sometimes to one side at the altar end, sometimes at the Western end. In the larger Romanesque churches, it is common to have two towers at the west end (Santiago de Compostela). The west door, or portal/portico, is given prominence since it is through this doorway that the congregants enter the church and come immediately in view of the altar at the far end of the nave
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