Romanesque and Gothic Architecture
The churches in each society were the best way to see a great example of Romanesque or Gothic design. They were the most important building in the area because Christianity had really taken over. The theology of the centuries that each style was in had a great impact on the final results and the making of the buildings. The churches changed tremendously from the Romanesque buildings in the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries to the Gothic churches in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries. The Romanesque buildings were very fortified and dark for protection, whereas the Gothic buildings were open to the light and intricately designed to feel the power of God.
The Romanesque buildings had a different motive than the Gothic buildings which creates a huge distinction between the two. Romanesque churches had small windows for their fortification (see figure 2). Because the buildings wanted to be so protected, they had a minimum amount of windows. Also, they were small and sometimes had bars in front of them. Not only were there few windows, but there was not many entrances either. The people did whatever they could to defend themselves from any barbarians planning an attack. Gothic windows were large and sophisticated to let plenty of light in (see figure 5). This building has almost all the walls covered in stained glass. The theology was that the church needed to have big windows to let in all the light from God. Everything revolved around having the presence of God’s light to guide them. The stained-glass was colorful and had pictures of important people or just designs in general. The Gothic windows were much more attractive.
Romanesque and Gothic buildings differed in their internal style too. The Romanesque churches were not very elegant, just strong and sturdy (see figure 3). Huge columns supported the building, but they were mostly plain. Because the church had to be so sturdy, they could not put as much design into them. Arches were located all through-out the building in areas such as windows, above doors, or between arches. All of the arches were curved or rounded at the top. The Gothic churches had designs and art everywhere (see figure 6). The columns, walls, and ceilings all had carved pictures or art. The stained- glass windows added elegance because they were so delicately made with numerous colors. A distinct difference from the Romanesque buildings was that the Gothic buildings had a pointed arch at the top instead of the rounded Romanesque ones. Romanesque buildings wanted protection whereas Gothic buildings wanted beauty.
The most important difference between the two different styles was the make-up of the building. Romanesque churches were built with very thick and strong materials (see figure 1). They had huge, bulky columns and the walls were made from heavy materials. Also, there were large towers used for lookout or to ring a bell for everybody to hear. The Romanesque buildings were built like this for a very specific reason. Their theology was that they needed to be protected from all barbarians if there was going to be an attack. Because the church was the center of the peoples’ lives, it was the place they could go for protection during this period. Gothic buildings were very opposite. The walls were thin and the church itself was not as wide (see figure 4). The walls had intricate designs and everything was elegant. The people believed the building should look sophisticated because they wanted to attract the light of God. There was huge stained-glass windows with beautiful art painted into them. During this time, protection was not what they wanted, but a great admirable building was chosen.
Even though both Romanesque and Gothic buildings were designed very differently, both were developed from their theology from the time period. The people believed something and that is how they created their buildings. Romanesque churches may not have been as attractive, but they were thick and sturdy to keep out any barbarians. Gothic buildings were not about fortification, but elegance and letting in all of God’s light with the artistic stained-glass windows. The theology of each style was almost opposite, but it is what affected the style of the center of their lives, the church.
Abazia di San Vittore (Genga), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Abaziasanvittorefrasassi.jpg, photograph taken in 2007.
English:Castle Rising Castle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Castle-rising-castle.JPG, photograph taken in 2008.
Side aisle and gallery of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SantCompostela21.jpg, photograph taken in 2006.
Cathedral of Reims, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Reims_Kathedrale.jpg, photograph taken in 2006
Sainte Chapelle - Upper Chapel, Paris, France, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sainte_chapelle_-_Upper_level.jpg photograph taken in 2009.
King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:F%C3%A4chergew%C3%B6lbe_KingsCollege.jpg, photograph taken in 2007