The Ten Books on Architecture, 4.5

Vitruvius  translated by Joseph Gwilt

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Of the Different Aspects of Temples

5If there be nothing to prevent it, and the use of the edifice allow it, the temples of the immortal gods should have such an aspect, that the statue in the cell may have its face towards the west, so that those who enter to sacrifice, or to make offerings, may have their faces to the east as well as to the statue in the temple. Thus suppliants, and those performing their vows, seem to have the temple, the east, and the deity, as it were, looking on them at the same moment. Hence all altars of the gods should be placed towards the east.

2But if the nature of the place do not permit this, the temple is to be turned as much as possible, so that the greater part of the city may be seen from it. moreover, if temples be built on the banks of a river, as those in Egypt on the Nile, they should face the river. So, also, if temples of the gods be erected on the road side, they should be placed in such a manner that those passing by may look towards them, and make their obeisance.

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