A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Tony Oz
Date: 2022 Jan 15, 13:57 -0800
I was told that churches are built to have their main entrance facing West, an altar part of the building - pointing East, that the cross up above has its' plane parallell to local meridian, etc.
While having vacations on Solovki Islands this summer I had a chance to practice such a wayfinding method.
To my surprise - the above rules do not work in most cities. I've checked with (google|yandex) maps, the churches have up to 45° of misalignment there. As an example - the Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg was deliberately hidden behind a colonnade to make it look nicer from an avenue running ESE-to-WNW when the building would occure turned away with its' main entance. Despite that, having because of the colonnade the full freedom to align the church properly - W-to-E, it was build ~30° turned clockwise.
In India, however, one may rely on Hindu temples - the Yoni part of the Shivalingam points North quite precisely.