Samples Architecture Comparisons Between Romanesque And Gothic Architecture

Comparisons Between Romanesque And Gothic Architecture

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Two of the most well-known architectural styles are Romanesque and Gothic; both styles were extremely popular during the Middle Ages. The Romanesque style originated first, and gradually developed into the Gothic style. Romanesque style was pioneered by the Normans but was extremely reminiscent of classical Roman architecture (Morris.) It was first seen around 800 A.D. and its popularity persisted until 1100 A.D. when architectural styles transformed to the Gothic style, which remained popular from that point until approximately 1500 A.D. There were many similarities as well as distinctions between these two architectural designs, and these characteristics will be discussed in this paper.

The most notable features of Romanesque architecture were round arches and vaults, and since this style was often used in the design of castles and churches, the buildings were required to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing. The style of Romanesque buildings was meant to convey fear, awe, envy, subordination, respect, power and wealth (Characteristics of Romanesque Architecture.) The interior of the buildings was made of stone, and although they were odoriferous and damp, they were intended to be more comfortable than the former inside of such structures, which had been made of wood. In addition, stone masons tended to add ornamentation to castles during the Romanesque period, and although they were expensive to construct, they were extremely sturdy and long lasting.

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The Romanesque architectural traits included stones that were cut exactly, and walls that were hollow and able to distribute the weight of the stones. In addition, using the Roman arch allowed the stone to be supported in the center by the construction of the arch. The stones that were used were very heavy so that because the ceilings weighed so much, they would often buckle the walls outwardly, resulting in huge piles of stones to be stacked along the wall in equal spaces in order to support them and prevent them from pushing outwardly. As a result, such stacks of stones were identified with Romanesque architecture and in addition, buttresses were added to the essential design and became another major characteristic of this style (Characteristics of Romanesque Architecture.)

In order to ensure that the walls were strong, the window openings of buildings that were designed in Romanesque fashion needed to be small. In addition, the vault, which was the most noteworthy development and characteristic of such architecture, was developed to facilitate the construction of stone roofs because using wood was clearly hazardous due to the risk of fires. There were at least two different styles of vaults: the barrel or tunnel vaults were made of a continuous surface of semicircular or pointed portions that were reminiscent of barrels or tunnels that had had their lengths dissected; the groin vault was made by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults and which were either pointed or round (Characteristic of Romanesque Architecture.)

Gothic architecture was characterized by seven essential features, which were also most evident in the castles and churches of their day. They were tall and elegant designs which climbed upwards, emphasizing their height and grandeur. New techniques such as the flying buttress allowed Gothic architects to distribute the weight of higher walls as well as loftier towers (Morris.) The flying buttress was the predominant external quality of Gothic design, and was meant to distribute the weight so that the walls did not have to support such massive tonnage because much of the force was directed towards the ground. Besides providing support to the structure, buttresses were frequently designed with elaborate decorative features, seeming to sweep around each edifice and provide a feeling of movement and elegance. The most distinct inside characteristic of Gothic architecture was the pointed arch, which effectively distributed the impact of extremely heavy ceilings as well as more bulky designs, and was able to support a great deal more bulk than previously designed columns. In addition, the arch was beautiful and played a role in influencing other aspects of Gothic designs, especially the vaulted ceiling.

Vaulted ceilings are another key feature of Gothic architecture, and used the pointed arch technology to distribute force as well as weight from the upper floors of the buildings. In addition, they gave the impression of height and beauty so that these irregular ceilings conveyed an impression of elegance. The ceilings were also able to be constructed using a variety of shapes and sizes, as opposed to earlier styles when vaults were only building that were constructed in circular or rectangular shapes.

Gothic architecture featured bright windows that emphasized light, and also contained wide and airy interiors that altered the environments of the castles and churches from dark and dreary settings to enjoyable and regal environments. In addition, one of the key focal characteristics of this style is gargoyles, which are decorative but at the same time rather monstrous tiny creatures that were placed along the roofs and walls of churches and castles of that period. Gargoyles served a useful function as spouts that allowed rainwater to drain from the roof and flow through their mouths before falling to the ground. In addition, they were designed to provoke fear in poorly educated peasants, frightening them so that they would escape into the church. During the Gothic period, people had many fears and mythologies about demons who roamed around in the outside world, so that the gargoyles represented a force that would inspire people to seek safety such as inside a cathedral.

Finally, the Gothic architectural period represented the beginning of the style in which beautiful and aesthetically pleasing ideas had been integrated into the design of buildings. This greatly transformed the way that architect in the Middle Ages began to conceptualize their creations, so that buildings were no longer simply designed to serve a purpose but were valuable and meaningful in and of themselves.

The Gothic and Romanesque designs had similarities and differences. The earlier Romanesque architecture prevailed in the ninth and 12th centuries, and influenced the Byzantine and Roman styles that followed. The Gothic style dates back to the mid-12th century and was mostly meant to make churches appear heavenly. Romanesque buildings tended to have large inside spaces, barrel vaults, the walls, and rounded arches on the windows and doors as opposed to Gothic architecture that had features such as height, flying buttresses, and vertical lines (Difference between Romanesque and Gothic Architecture.) The Romanesque buildings used heavy frames in contrast to the Gothic structures that had slender outlines and thin frames. Finally, Gothic buildings were adorned with big windows that featured stained-glass which permitted more light to enter the rooms while Romanesque buildings had small windows that resulted in low lighting in the rooms.

  • “Characteristics of Romanesque Architecture.” n.d. Medieval Life and Times. electronic. 15 May 2013.
  • Difference between Gothic and Romanesque Architecture. 24 April 2011. electronic. 15 May 2013.
  • Morris, Edd. “The Seven Key Characteristics of Gothic Architecture.” 2013. Exploring Castles. electronic. 15 May 2013.
  • “Romanesque Architecture: Characteristics.” 2009. Spain Then and Now. electronic. 15 May 2013.

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