What is Gothic Architecture?

Gothic architecture is generally characterized by the use of a pointed arch. This type of architecture flourished in the Middle Ages between 5th and 15th century. The other common features of this type of construction are the buttresses, ribbed vaults and large windows. This type of design originated from France in Europe, and was popularly used in the construction of large cathedrals and churches.

Characteristics of Gothic architecture.

  • The flying buttresses: the function of these buttresses is to distribute the weight of the high walls so that the structure becomes stable by transferring the force to the ground. In addition to its purpose of shifting force to the ground, these buttresses were used as decoration.
  • Pointed bow: this design has practical and decorative advantages. The pointed arch was used to distribute the strength of massive ceilings and walls that were bulky. In doing so, it allowed architects to build taller buildings due to stability. This pointed arch was also decorative and beautiful to look at.
  • Vaulted ceilings. This design used the function of the pointed arch to spread the force from the upper floors.
  • Bright and airy interior. The Gothic design emphasized the need for sufficient light and free circulation of air from within these buildings. Previously, prior to Gothic architecture, the interior of buildings was often closed and dark.

Another common feature of Gothic architecture is its height. Most Gothic churches are built with the aisle protruding higher than the rest of the building with a symbol of Heaven due to the vertical nature that is believed to be.

Passage from Romanesque to Gothic architecture.

The features exhibited by the Gothic architecture were developed from Romanesque architecture on different geographical locations. Ribbed sails were used to build aisles of Romanesque churches. Characteristics such as the plate fretwork, the vertical wells and compound pylons have been copied from the Romanesque period. The Basilica of Saint Denis is considered the first Gothic building that used all the features ranging from the pointed arch to the vaults.

Regional differences in Gothic architecture

In France, the only distinctive feature of Gothic architecture compared to those of other countries is the vertical nature. Unlike other countries, in France, the chapels are known to be unified because there are no great projections to the sky.

The distinguishing feature of English Gothic architecture is their length and often the emphasis on the interior with respect to the horizontal. The English chapels have a stylistic interior compared to those of France and Germany.

In Poland and Germany the Gothic architecture is characterized by tall towers and spiers that are projected towards the skies, but often they are not completed to offer a good appearance.

In Spain and Portugal, the distinctive feature of Gothic architecture is their complex nature. They are relatively wide with different parts that intersect, and this makes it complicated. They are often flanked by high arches and spacious interiors that resemble in a similar way the German chapels.


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