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sacred place, especially the most sacred part of a sacred place. In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, a sanctuary served as asylumasylum
, extension of hospitality and protection to a fugitive and the place where such protection is offered. The use of temples and churches for this purpose in ancient and medieval times was known as sanctuary.
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, a place of refuge for persons fleeing from violence or from the penalties of the law. To injure a person in sanctuary or to remove him from it forcibly was considered sacrilege. In Egypt the temples of Osiris and Amon offered the right of sanctuary. Under the Greeks all temples enjoyed this privilege, and certain ones, like the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, were known throughout the Mediterranean world as a haven for fugitives. In Rome sanctuary was often sought by fugitive slaves. Christian churches were given the right of sanctuary by Constantine I. Abuses of sanctuary, tending to encourage crime, led to its curtailment and abolition. Modern penal codes no longer recognize the right of sanctuary.


In a church, the immediate area around the principal altar.



an area on land or in a body of water within which only individual elements of a natural complex are specially protected, rather than the entire complex as in a pre-serve: vegetation, all or certain species of animals, or other elements.

In the USSR, sanctuaries forbidding hunting, established for the conservation of valuable species of wild animals and birds, are most common; hunting is prohibited there for up to ten years or more. There are also fishery sanctuaries (to protect spawning grounds, adults and juveniles of valuable species); landscape sanctuaries (picturesque river valleys, lakes and the surrounding area, and sites that have aesthetic or cultural value or are used for recreation and tourism); forest, steppe, and bog sanctuaries (set aside for scientific purposes and to solve certain economic problems, as well as to conserve communities of rare plants); geological sanctuaries (unique caves, geological outcrops, deposits of residues of fossil flora and fauna); hydrological sanctuaries (lakes with unusual hydrological regimes); and other natural sanctuaries, as well as those intended to protect historical areas.

Natural sanctuaries are created by decrees of the Council of Ministers of the Union Republics and by the decisions of local councils. The operating conditions are established by the governments of the Union republics, conservation agencies, and executive committees of local councils. Special legal acts concerning sanctuaries have been drawn up by the Union republics. Economic activity incompatible with the main purpose of a sanctuary is usually banned. Hunting, fishing, felling trees, grazing cattle, cutting hay, or quarrying may be banned, depending on the purpose of the sanctuary.


Primechateinye prirodnye landshafty SSSR i ikh okhrana. Moscow, 1967. (Collection of articles, edited by L. K. Shaposhnikov.)
Emer’ianova, V. G. Zakonodatel’ stvo O zapovednikakh, zakaznikakh, pamiatnikakh prirody. Moscow, 1971. Pages 22–26.




a place for the performance of religious rites; it is usually considered the abode of a deity. The oldest sanctuaries were evidently secret recesses in the depths of caves, where numerous depictions of animals and traces of magic rituals have been found dating from the Paleolithic, particularly in southern France, northern Spain, and in the USSR in the Kapova Cave. Similar sanctuaries are still found today among certain backward peoples; for example, the Australian aborigines have secret hiding places for their totemic emblems.

Sanctuaries consisting of special buildings or fenced-in plots of land with various structures are known among almost all ancient peoples. In some areas they developed from men’s houses (Melanesia), and in other places from the tombs of chiefs (Polynesia and Africa) or from special fetish huts (Africa). Priests and cult servants were usually attached to them. Home sanctuaries for family rituals also exist; they consist of separate sections of a dwelling with cult objects and images. In the developed religions of a class society, sanctuaries often consist of impressive architectural structures, such as churches or temples.


1. In a church, the immediate area around the principal altar; the chancel.
2. The sacred shrine of a divinity.


1. a holy place
2. a consecrated building or shrine
3. Old Testament
a. the Israelite temple at Jerusalem, esp the holy of holies
b. the tabernacle in which the Ark was enshrined during the wanderings of the Israelites
4. the chancel, or that part of a sacred building surrounding the main altar
a. a sacred building where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest or execution
b. the immunity so afforded
6. a place, protected by law, where animals, esp birds, can live and breed without interference
References in periodicals archive ?
The sanctuary has been there for years, we all support it and even the school kids have an emblem of a wolf on their jumpers," Roe said.
Gautala Autramghat Sanctuary - The Gautala Autramghat Sanctuary is a protected area situated at a distance of 60 km from the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
The Arabian gazelle is one of the most prominent animals that abound in the sanctuary, as well as the Arabian Tahar whose presence in the Arabian Peninsula is limited to this sanctuary.
The Red Fox, Arabian Lynx also lives in the sanctuary, which is a safe haven for many migratory and endemic birds, such as Hoopoe, Indian Roller, Pipit, Bee, Egyptian Vulture, Eagle, the See-See Partridge, Owls, and Crowned Sandgrouse, along with Wild Pigeon, Falcon, Curlew, and Seagulls.
Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary If you are after migratory birds, this sanctuary should be on top of your list.
Located 70 to 115 miles off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary includes the northernmost coral reefs in the continental United States, deepwater reef communities and other essential habitats for a variety of marine species.
We have a very special pony who has been in the papers quite a lot over the time the sanctuary has been opened as he is so gentle and good with the children.
On 15 February 2012, Moody's changed the outlook of Sanctuary Housing
It states: "Our goal is to create a network of towns and cities throughout the country which are proud to be places of safety, and which include people seeking sanctuary fully in the life of their communities.
Sanctuary apprentices Tom Smith, Jeya Greenfield and Sarah Wall, were studying for A-levels or equivalent qualifications when they decided to apply for an apprenticeship with Sanctuary rather than choosing to go to university.
But it is the story of Europe's biggest bear sanctuary, first started in 2005, that inspired him to put pen to paper and tell the harrowing stories of Romania's rescued bears.