February 23, 2018

Gothic Architecture of Europe

Last month I explained some of the attributes of Romanesque architecture.  Today I will delve into the world of Gothic architecture in Europe.

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.

Cathédrale d'Amiens by OliBac, on Flickr

Cathédrale d'Amiens by OliBac, on Flickr

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.

Notre Dame de Paris by pixie_bebe, on Flickr

Notre Dame de Paris by pixie_bebe, on Flickr

Ribbed vaults added elements of beauty to Gothic structures and were supported by columns.

Royaumont Abbey

Royaumont Abbey

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.

Interior Reims Cathedral France

Interior Reims Cathedral

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.

Gargoyle 2 Notre Dame Cathedral Paris France

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris France

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris France











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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Photogenic Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne is one of the most photogenic cities there is in Europe.

View of mountain from Lucerne Switzerland

Mountain view from Lucerne Switzerland

Located in the center of Switzerland, Lucerne offers a sampling of what defines Switzerland – lakes, meandering rivers, mountains, charming bridges, flowers, boats, frescoed buildings and a medieval old town.

Lucerne Switzerland along the River Reuss

Lucerne along the River Reuss

Lucerne is a great city to wander charming cobblestoned streets or stroll along the river promenade stopping at cafes that dot the River Reuss.

The Kapellbrucke is probably the most famous bridge and sight in Lucerne.

Kapellbrucke Lucerne Switzerland

Kapellbrucke Lucerne Switzerland

To enjoy Lake Lucerne, spend time at one of the beaches or enjoy a steamer to marvel at the scenic mountains, stately homes and castles or even enjoy a wholesome breakfast.

Leave some time to enjoy the Swiss Transport Museum.  This museum displays many forms of transportation including train cars, planes, cars and ships.  You can also see the oldest steamboat in Switzerland and there is a model depicting the crossing of the Gotthard Pass.

Mt. Pilatus Switzerland

Mt. Pilatus Switzerland

Mt. Pilatus is one of those Swiss mountains steeped in history and myths that comes with incredible views.  Part of the adventure is the transportation getting you to the summit and returning you to the floor.  To begin your trip, take a steamer to Alpnachstad where you will transfer to the cog railway that will whisk you to the top.  This cog railway is the steepest in the world with a 48% gradient.  Your return can be by a pair of cable cars or via the cog railway.

Clouds below Mt. Pilatus Switzerland

View from Mt. Pilatus Switzerland

At the summit, besides marveling at the panorama unfolding before your eyes there are many hiking paths and restaurants.

The William Tell Express, one of Switzerland’s scenic rail trips, begins in Lucerne.  Board your steamer to Fluelen where you transfer to the scenic train for the remainder of your trip to Locarno.  But this is for another day. . .


Have you been to Lucerne?

What is the most photogenic city you have been to?




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Fabulous Friday – 5 Exceptional Posts!


Today’s Fabulous Friday shout out goes to 5 very different blog posts.  These posts have nothing in common except the fact they all touched me in some way.  They had me laughing, remembering my childhood, longing to sit outside, making a mental note to be a better parent and one even had me sitting on the edge of my seat!

If you haven’t already read these entries, I encourage you to do so.

Hope you all have a Fabulous Friday!


1)   Fearful Adventurer’s “Holy Sh*t I’m Going to Die” series is a great fun read full of exciting, scary adventures that even made me chuckle a bit.  I can’t decide whether I enjoyed “Psycho Driver”  or “Death on Ice” more.  “Death on Ice” was more edge of my seat-ish while “Psycho Driver” had me laughing when the driver started singing “I killed the tourist and then I stole her passport. ”  Either way, I highly recommend these exciting stories!

2) Canada’s Adventure Couple has a great post titled “A Dolphin Encounter in New Zealand” that had me reminiscing about my childhood.  The post details an adventure they had swimming with the dolphins but not in a hotel’s lagoon.  Oh no, they actually swam with these amazing animals in their own habitat.  When I was a wee lass one of my favorite TV shows was Flipper (I’ve really aged myself with this one!).  I loved Porter, Sandy, Bud and, of course, Flipper.  I always wanted to jump in the ocean like Sandy or Bud and have Flipper swim around with me holding on to his dorsal fin!  Crazy I know but Sandy was hot and Flipper was just plain cool!

3) My Melange wrote a post “Historic Cafes of Venice” detailing one of my favorite things to do – sitting outside with a coffee or other beverage soaking up the European atmosphere.  In her usual way, Robyn, detailed the cafes on St. Mark’s Square in Venice in just the way that makes you want to go there. . . now!  Such a great feeling remembering the enjoyable times I’ve spent at some European square outside taking it all in!

4)  As We Travel’s post titled “The 5 Worst Movie Travel  Companions” is a great way to reminisce about these 5 movies containing a character that defines “worst travel companions”.  I have seen most of these movies and couldn’t argue with their choices.  I actually thought there were more than one character in some movies that would have been an equally good choice.  Not sure I would want to travel with John Candy’s character in Planes, Trains & Automobiles nor do I think any of the characters in Little Miss Sunshine would make my list of travel companions (except for Grandpa and Little Miss Sunshine).

5. Hectic Travel has a post in the Dear Uncle Calvin category that really makes you stop and think.  Yes we all have an Uncle Calvin type in our lives but why do we let them have so much control?  Further, why do some of us end up being the Uncle Calvin?  I don’t think there is a parent or relative around that doesn’t want their child(ren) to follow their own dreams.  Why then do we sometimes have such a difficult time letting them do this?  I know it is fear but I found this post making me more aware to NOT be Uncle Calvin!

Have you read any of these blogs?  What are your thoughts on them?



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