Church architecture refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions. From the birth of Christianity to the present, the most significant objects of transformation for Christian architecture and design were the great churches of Byzantium, the Romanesque abbey churches, Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance basilicas with its emphasis on harmony. These large, often ornate and architecturally prestigious buildings were dominant features of the towns and countryside in which they stood. But far more numerous were the parish churches scattered across the Christian world, the focus of Christian devotion in every town and village. While a few are counted as sublime works of architecture to equal the great cathedrals, the majority developed along simpler lines, showing great regional diversity and often demonstrating local vernacular technology and decoration.