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Cella vs. Naos: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 21, 2024
Cella refers to the inner chamber of a classical temple, often housing a deity's statue, while Naos is the Greek equivalent term for the same sacred space within a temple.

Key Differences

Cella is a term primarily used in Roman architecture to describe the main room of a temple where the cult statue was placed. This area was often central and surrounded by columns or walls, making it the focal point of religious activities. Naos, on the other hand, is the Greek term for a similar concept, referring to the inner sanctum of a temple. In Greek temples, the Naos served as the most sacred area, where the deity's image was enshrined and worshipped by priests and select individuals.
Cella in Roman temples was often part of a larger structure that included additional rooms like the pronaos (front porch) and the opisthodomos (rear room). This architectural arrangement allowed for a more compartmentalized and functional space within the temple complex. Naos in Greek temples typically formed the core structure, often flanked by a pronaos at the front and an opisthodomos at the back. Greek temples emphasized the Naos as the central, most significant space, reflecting its importance in religious practices.
Cella, as used by the Romans, often featured ornate decorations and was built to be visually impressive, signifying the power and grandeur of the gods worshipped there. These decorations could include elaborate friezes, statues, and other artistic elements. Naos, in Greek architecture, was similarly adorned but often focused more on harmony and proportion, consistent with Greek aesthetic principles. The emphasis was on creating a balanced and serene space that reflected the divine order.
Cella was typically accessible to the priests and sometimes the public during specific ceremonies, while access to the Naos in Greek temples was usually more restricted, with only the priests entering the sacred space regularly.

Comparison Chart


Roman architecture
Greek architecture

Main Function

Inner chamber housing deity's statue
Inner sanctum for deity worship

Architectural Elements

Often part of a larger complex
Core structure flanked by other rooms

Decoration Style

Ornate, grand
Harmonious, proportional


Accessible to priests and public during ceremonies
Typically restricted to priests

Cella and Naos Definitions


Central room housing the cult image.
The cella's walls were adorned with intricate frescoes.


Primary sacred chamber.
Offerings were made at the entrance to the naos.


Inner chamber of a Roman temple.
The cella of the ancient temple contained a massive statue of Jupiter.


Inner sanctum of a Greek temple.
The naos was where the statue of Athena stood in the Parthenon.


The most important part of a Roman temple.
The architectural focus of the temple was the cella.


Central sacred space in Greek religious buildings.
Only the priests could enter the naos to perform sacred rites.


Main sanctuary area of a temple.
Pilgrims would leave offerings at the entrance of the cella.


Core area for deity worship.
The naos was surrounded by columns and a decorative frieze.


Sacred space in classical temples.
Only priests were allowed to enter the cella during rituals.


Main hall of a Greek temple.
The naos was designed with perfect proportions to honor the gods.


The inner room or sanctuary of an ancient Greek or Roman temple, in which the statue of the god was situated.


See cella.


In Byzantine architecture, the area of a centrally planned church in which the liturgy is performed.In both senses also callednaos.


The inner part of an ancient Greek temple, containing a statue of the temple's deity and surrounded by a colonnaded portico; (by extension) the Roman cella, which it later gave rise to.


(architecture) The central, enclosed part of an ancient temple, as distinguished from the open porticos.


A term used by modern archæologists instead of cella. See Cella.


The part inclosed within the walls of an ancient temple, as distinguished from the open porticoes.


What was the purpose of the Naos?

The Naos served as the most sacred space in a Greek temple for worship and housing the deity's statue.

What is the main difference between Cella and Naos?

Cella is a Roman term for the inner chamber of a temple, while Naos is the Greek equivalent.

What was housed in the Cella?

The Cella typically housed the statue of the deity.

Who could enter the Naos?

Usually, only priests had regular access to the Naos.

Are Cella and Naos used interchangeably?

No, Cella is used in Roman architecture and Naos in Greek architecture.

How does the architectural style differ between Cella and Naos?

The Cella often features elaborate decorations, while the Naos focuses on balanced and proportional design.

Can the public access the Cella?

The public could access the Cella during specific ceremonies.

Were there any specific ceremonies held in the Cella?

Yes, various religious ceremonies and rituals were conducted in the Cella.

Were Cella and Naos decorated differently?

Yes, the Cella was often more ornate, while the Naos emphasized harmony and proportion.

Is the Naos always centrally located in Greek temples?

Yes, it is typically the central, most important part of the temple.

What other rooms are associated with Cella in Roman temples?

Other rooms include the pronaos (front porch) and the opisthodomos (rear room).

Do both Cella and Naos serve the same religious function?

Yes, both serve as the primary space for housing the deity's statue and conducting religious rituals.

What distinguishes the decoration of the Naos?

The Naos decoration focuses on creating a harmonious and balanced aesthetic.

How is the Naos typically accessed?

The Naos is accessed through a pronaos (front porch).

Did the design of the Cella influence later architectural styles?

Yes, the design and layout of the Cella influenced later Roman and Western architecture.

How important was the Naos in Greek temple design?

It was crucial, often dictating the overall layout and structure of the temple.

What materials were commonly used in the construction of Cella and Naos?

Both were commonly constructed using stone, marble, and other durable materials.

Are there famous examples of Cella and Naos?

Yes, the cella in the Pantheon and the naos in the Parthenon are notable examples.

What is a typical feature of the Cella?

A typical feature is the presence of the cult statue of the deity.

Is there any structural difference between Cella and Naos?

The Cella is part of a larger complex in Roman temples, whereas the Naos is the core structure in Greek temples.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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