History of churches
Churches have been around since the beginning of the Christian religion. In the early days they were largely borrowed from other religions but as the Christianity grew so did the churches. The result is that several churches have become large monuments that attract millions of tourists every year.
Early Christians where Jewish so they usually worshipped at the synagogue like everybody else. The synagogues themselves were developed from the houses of worship that existed in the older religions on which much of Judaism was based. As Christianity grew it became necessary to find other places in which to worship. For the early years of the religion they were not allowed to worship openly so the churches tended to be rooms in a house. Often there were rooms that were set aside specifically for use as a church.
The first real churches started to appear during the fourth century when Rome became officially Christian. With government sanction and the ability to worship openly it was possible to construct buildings specifically for use as churches. The government of Rome paid for much of the construction so there were a great many built. The early Roman churches tended to be fairly small and largely resembled the temples of the older Roman religion. However over time they became larger and more elaborate, particularly in the eastern part of the empire.
It was during the Middle Ages that the real boom in church construction took place. It was during this period that Christianity spread throughout most of Europe. The kings of these new Christian areas were keen to show their devotion so they put large resources into creating churches. Many of these churches were quite large if rather simple. Construction techniques during this period tended to be limited so in order to build a large church a lot of supporting structures were needed. This tended to take up a lot of space and ruin the aesthetic of the building but it did allow for large buildings to be constructed.
During the renaissance period the pace at which churches were being built slowed down somewhat but the ones that were built became much more spectacular. This was largely the result of new construction techniques that allowed for larger buildings and in particular buildings with large open spaces to be constructed. Most of the famous churches that tourists go to see were built during this period.
Since the end of the renaissance the churches that have been built have tended to be smaller and less elaborate. The reason for this is partly due to the waning influence of the church and the fact that most churches have less money available. This combined with the fact that the government is generally not paying for the construction. The result is that most modern churches are built more with utility in mind than to be impressive monuments.