Gothic architecture

The Gothic style was the first rather original architectural style which was born in Northern Europe. More than 300 years the rising up, penetrated by light cathedrals and churches were an embodiment of humility and arrogance of medieval Christians.

The Romanesque style dominated architecture in the early middle ages, was impressed, first of all, the squat massiveness of forms. Thick walls, huge columns and powerful buttresses left little room light that did cathedrals and churches, gloomy and strict constructions plunging in awe. Then, in the middle of the TWELFTH century, in France there was a completely different type of Church constructions. Though their spires seemed to touch the heavens, structurally new churches were much more graceful and easier. Inside the building amazed the height and abundance of light.

The new style was embodied for the first time in France in the construction of the main Church of the Abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris. The building was constructed in 1140-44 by order of the Abbot, but it is unknown whether the idea belonged to him or the anonymous master masons. Anyway, the Abbe was pleased with the result – especially the wonderful stream of light flowing from the Windows.

The new style caught on, and within 20 years the construction of Gothic cathedrals began in Sens, Noyon and Laon, near Paris, and in Paris itself, where in 1163 was laid of the famous Notre Dame. Spires rushed high into the sky, and in the XIII century in Gothic style came into its Mature phase, this high Gothic and most clearly embodied in the magnificent cathedrals of Chartres, Reims and Amiens.

New technologies

From a technical point of view, the Gothic was simply the system that allows you to use much less massive supporting structures for the sustainability of higher constructions.

It became possible thanks to such relatively new techniques as the Lancet arch, ribbed vault and powerful external pillars (buttresses) with a binder oblique arches (flying buttresses). The Lancet arch is considered a symbol of Gothic: a look skyward, and create a sense of much greater height than circular (Romanesque) arches. This design was much more robust and flexible because it, unlike circular arcs, which dammed a given space, could be adjusted depending on the angle.

Decisive for the development of Gothic was the discovery that the weight and pressure of the masonry can concentrate at certain points, and if to support them in these places, other elements of the building does not have to be load bearing. As a result there was a lot of open space. Function of the arches (stone ceilings and roofs) has changed since the load was now taken up by their edges (ribs), diagonally crossed in the air. It allowed to fill the space between the ribs relatively thin walls. The downward load of a costal skeleton had on pilasters, located with an equal interval, and what was once a blank wall, became graceful gallery.

The arch buttress

Another achievement of Gothic architecture was the arch buttress, which has already passed through another load – the weight of the arch created, but directed outside. Instead, to thicken the wall, the buttresses were located at a certain distance and connected with it only a narrow curved arches, which, however, was enough for effective load transfer from wall to the support columns. And that was very important, it allowed the main nave – the Central part of the Church is to rise above the side altars of the temple, with the upper row of Windows, illuminating the choirs, was in no way overshadowed by the.

The skeleton of stone

The General result of application of these techniques was that massive Church structures have a light skeletal frames. It is unlikely that such description conveys the artistic skill and sense of beauty shown by builders at solving technical problems. The ranks of the buttress arches, for example, was topped pinnacles, which increased the tendency in the sky and became one of the most memorable features of Gothic buildings.

The space between the “bones” of a skeleton could be glazed or filled with sculptures. Stone top plane of the Windows followed the General trend of Gothic style, becoming more and more facilitated and pautinopodobnoj. Delicate stone work – one more characteristic feature of Gothic style – has got a kind of intricate ornaments; ribs on the arches also incorporated in more and more intricate weaving. I the Gothic period gave rise and flourishing of sculpture: the added space of cathedrals provided unlimited opportunities for the development of more realistic art, and free-standing figures carved in full, replaced the first dominant relief compositions, pieces which as it stood out from the wall.

The Gothic style spread from France to England and Germany, where it became dominant. To the South, where considerably differed both tradition and climate, it has had less impact, though the Milan Cathedral is an example of Italian Gothic.

In England, among the many masterpieces of Gothic architecture can be called Welsh, Salisbury and Lincoln cathedrals, York Minster, Westminster Abbey and Church of St-I. George, and Windsor castle. To replace the rather tatty “early English” phase (C. 1180-1280) came the period of the “decorated” style (C. 1280-1360), marked by the appearance of many purely national traits. But in General the rich decor was more typical of continental Europe, which had no analogies English “perpendicular” style (approx. 1360-1550) I emphasized with its straight lines and simplistic repeating motifs. The simplicity of this style make him acceptable not only for cathedrals, but in parish churches throughout the country were built a great many, until in the SIXTEENTH century, with the flowering of the Renaissance and the beginning of the reformation, the Gothic era came to an end in England and in the rest of Europe.


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