When you here the word “Gothic” what do you think of? Dark. Eerie. Scary. Grotesque. Let’s see if this is correct.
Gothic style architecture originated in France during the mid-12th century and it was during this time that many cathedrals were designed in this new and innovative manner. But it wasn’t only cathedrals that using these Gothic characteristics. Town halls, castles, bridges and other fortresses were all designed using this architectural style.
What were these new architectural innovations? The most prominent distinguishing feature of Gothic architecture is the use of pointed arches instead of the rounded Romanesque version. The pointed arches are able to support more weight allowing thinner walls, more windows, and the addition of elegant elements such as columns and moldings.
Other innovations included the flying buttresses and ribbed vaults. Flying buttresses were used to connect free standing supports to the walls enhancing the stability of the structure.
Ribbed vaults added elements of beauty to Gothic structures and were supported by columns.
Since the designers of this era had introduced new building techniques, the bulky thick walls seen in the Romanesque style were not needed. This allowed Gothic architecture to create openness by including grand windows which let in natural light. These can be seen in the many stained glass windows displayed in the cathedrals of this time.
We have all seen Gargoyles on Gothic buildings. Did you know these were first used as waterspouts? True and at one point in history they were removed for being improper but were later returned to their positions where they seem to be guards of the building serving as their homes.
Gothic architecture is not eerie or grotesques. In fact, as we’ve seen it is a style that is actually known for its elegance.
What is your favorite example of Gothic architecture?
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