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With the rapid development of medieval architectural art – Gothic church

When you travel to Europe, you will definitely encounter all kinds of magnificent Gothic cathedrals, and almost all of them are local landmarks, so do you know what are the characteristics of these buildings? How should ordinary tourists watch them?

In this issue, let me use the most popular and intuitive way to learn about the characteristics of the Gothic church. I hope that when you meet again next time, you will not only sigh “Niu X”, but you can approach it from several angles. Taste it carefully.

Gothic architecture originated in France and is a great creation of the Gauls, so of course Rome, which claimed to be European orthodox culture, was not convinced, and was derogated to call it a more barbaric Gothic architecture, thus obtaining such a nondescript name “Gothic”. “. Therefore, among the hundreds of ancient churches in Rome, there is only one Gothic (modern churches are not included in the statistics), and there are almost no Gothic buildings in the surrounding areas. Therefore, there are few spires in central and southern Italy. The buildings are all sturdy and square in appearance.

And Gothic architecture is almost ubiquitous in other parts of Europe, occupying the C position.

  1. Gothic spires

When you think of Gothic architecture, the first impression must be the high spires, the sharp spires that rise straight into the clouds, yes, this is one of the main features of Gothic architecture, towering, and most churches are above the nave There is a high tower at the cross of the church, the higher the better, to challenge the architectural limit as much as possible, in order to better connect with God, or to show the sacred and inviolable momentum of the church.


There are two main types of Gothic spires:One is located above the crucifix in the nave, and the other is above the bell tower of the church.


Notre Dame Cathedral Spire

Most of the spires of French churches are located at the cross above the nave. Notre Dame de Paris is a typical case (this spire was burned down some time ago, and it is currently under repair), which is the standard paradigm of French Gothic churches. It does not represent all, and there are many strange situations.




Chartres Cathedral, France

Like this old French Gothic church, the spire is above the bell tower, and the two bell towers are asymmetrical. It is said that the two groups of craftsmen did their own work, or it may be that the craftsmanship is still immature, creating this wonderful shape. Another type of situation where the highest spire is above the bell tower is undoubtedly the most representative of Cologne Cathedral.

Rear view of Cologne Cathedral, Germany

The highest point of the bell tower of Cologne Cathedral is 161 meters, creating the ultimate height of the spire. In addition, the spire above the nave also exists, but the scale is not larger than that on the bell tower.

The twin towers can be visited for sightseeing. I bought the stairs tickets, I want to experience the feeling of the ancients climbing the towers, climb the narrow spiral stairs to doubt life, and recommend not to go up if you are afraid of heights.

In addition to reaching the limit for the height of the minaret, the height of the church dome is also omnipotent, until it cannot be achieved. For example, the Beauvais Cathedral in France cannot be completed because the dome is too high. Several challenges have failed, and finally In the end, the nave height of 48.5 meters became the ceiling of the Gothic church.

Beauvais Cathedral, France

It can be seen that there are many steel frame supports on the flying buttresses of Beauvais Cathedral. In fact, there are also many steel frames inside, a crumbling church.

  1. Rib vault

After talking about the towering appearance, let’s turn to the inside and look at another important feature of the Gothic church from the architectural structure.

On the basis of the ancient Roman dome architecture, the Gauls created a lighter rib arch, which solved the problem that the top of the stone building was too heavy, so that the building could be built higher. The use of windows increases the light of the church and solves the problem of sturdy, heavy and dim Romanesque buildings.

The rib arch is lighter and taller than the Roman-style round arch. The early rib arches were almost all quartered, and gradually developed into the six-pointed arch. Let’s take a look at the performance of the rib arch in the dome of the church.


Wells Cathedral, England

This is a typical quarter arch, the “x” crosses out of the quarter arch, and the partition in the middle is a pointed arch.

Basilica of Saint Clotide, France

Looking at the side effect of the quarter arch, you can clearly see that each group of quarter arches is supported by the pointed arches on both sides, and the gravity is well decomposed. This type of arch occupies most of the Gothic churches, like the famous one. Cologne Cathedral, Milan Cathedral are such.

Notre Dame de Paris

This is a typical six-point arch, where the gravity is shared by more ribs.

The rib arch is relatively well-behaved in France and Germany, but it was gradually broken when it arrived in the United Kingdom, and all kinds of strange shapes came into play, thus forming the unique style of the British Gothic church.


Lincoln Cathedral, England

A variation of the quarter arch, which gradually evolved into a fan shape.





Exeter Cathedral, England

Wells Cathedral, England
Scalloped arches are gradually gaining popularity in the UK.











Bath Church, England





Later, on the basis of the fan-shaped arch, various fancy arches took off.

Ely Cathedral, England




Cathedral of Christ College, Oxford University






Canterbury Cathedral, England



Gloucester Cathedral, England

Harry Potter fans should be familiar with it! The corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, have you been brought in?



Westminster Abbey, England

Have you been shocked when you see the ceiling of a church in the UK? So, if you go to see the cathedrals in the UK, remember to look up!
I have a lot more to collect. If I post them all, I’m afraid that everyone will get tired, so let’s just post some representative ones!

3. Flying buttresses (Les arcs-boutants)

The flying buttress is another feat of Gothic architecture in addition to the rib arch. Because the cathedral is too high, it is easy to cause the four walls to be unstable, so in order to share the pressure on the load-bearing wall, the flying buttress was designed.

Flying buttress architectural drawing


Notre Dame De Paris flying buttresses

It can be seen that the flying buttresses give strong support to the main hall, which greatly relieves the pressure on the walls of the main hall, and can open many windows while creating opportunities for Gothic stained windows.



Milan Cathedral flying buttresses

The roof of the Milan Cathedral is allowed to climb. It is recommended to go to Milan. Walking through the dense flying buttresses, there will be a feeling of crossing, as if you have come to the Middle Ages, it is a rare experience, yes The most fantastical in the church I’ve been to.



Chartres Cathedral Flying Buttresses

Chartres Cathedral is an earlier Gothic church, so the flying buttresses are also relatively simple, mainly for architectural functions.






Soissons Cathedral, France flying buttresses

The forms of flying buttresses are very diverse, and there are hidden types, which only protrude a little outside the wall, and some have very large spans, like the flying wings of birds. It will appear, next time you can enjoy it, and even if you watch too much, you can classify them.


4. Glass window
As mentioned before, Gothic architecture solves the problem of load-bearing of walls very well. Therefore, a large number of windows can be installed to solve the problem of lighting, and various fancy decorations are created for beauty, among which the rose window is the most characteristic.
The rose window is generally based on the radially symmetrical petal shape, and various small changes have been derived in the later period, but it basically maintains several characteristics: radial, symmetrical, and circular in shape.

Notre Dame De Paris flower window
The rose window of Notre Dame de Paris is definitely one of them.







Laon Cathedral, France





France Amiens cathedral stained window





Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Italy

The rose window in Italy is very different from other European countries. It likes to add elements of Roman columns, the scale is also smaller, and the church building structure is also very different. Therefore, even if Italy accepts Gothic architecture, it must retain its own uniqueness. .






In addition to the rose window, there are a large number of long windows with pointed arches around the church. Generally, paintings are created with the theme of Bible stories, and many masters have even participated in the creation. .
Bath Cathedral, England, the stained glass window of Bath Cathedral is the largest and most known church, known as the “Western Lantern”.







Laon Cathedral, France







Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy
Some Italian Gothic uses round arches.


5. Pointed arches, windows

In the domes, stained windows, gates, and other places of Gothic architecture that need support, pointed arches are almost everywhere, especially at the gates. Great architectural features.

Cathedral of Seville, Spain, pointed arches




Notre-Dame Cathedral, Antwerp, Belgium


Amiens Cathedral, France, pointed arches

In addition to pointed arches, there are also churches that use Romanesque round arches. Most churches have three doors, large in the middle and small on both sides, but there are many exceptions. For super churches like Milan Cathedral, three doors are not enough, so he has As many as five doors.


6. Gothic Church Sculpture
The outer walls and roofs of Gothic cathedrals are often covered with sculptures, and the most representative is the Milan Cathedral.

Milan cathedral
The sculptures of Gothic churches are not necessarily Gothic-style sculptures, because the construction time of many churches spans hundreds of years and will be created according to the art trends at that time. For example, the sculptures of Milan Cathedral appear in the Renaissance or Baroque style. normal thing.




Even in a church with few sculptures around it, a large number of sculptures are locally used in places such as pointed arches and minarets.

Chartres Cathedral, France




The roof monsters and dripping beast sculptures of the Gothic church are also a major feature, with unique and strange shapes, which are impressive.
Amiens Cathedral, France




Milan Cathedral The Dripping Beast

The above is a brief summary of the common characteristics of Gothic cathedrals. I hope you will have your own preliminary judgment when you encounter such churches next time. However, there are exceptions to everything, and there are many exceptions to Gothic cathedrals. It is very normal that it cannot be completely matched. As long as it has some of the characteristics, it can be judged as Gothic, but there must be a “rib arch”, and other characteristics can be increased or decreased.
Finally, I have to talk about Gothic churches in Italy. Among these exceptions, because of preference or cultural discrimination, there are almost no Gothic churches in Rome (not counted in modern times), and they are rare in the surrounding area. Even north of Rome, the Gothic churches in central Italy have a very different architectural style from other common types. Here are some for everyone to know about.




Orvieto Cathedral, Italy

This church is more than 100 kilometers north of Rome. It can be seen from the outside that the church has no common flying buttresses (hidden), no high minarets, and uses round arches.




Cathedral of Siena, Italy

This church is very similar to the Orvieto Cathedral, and there is a Romanesque dome above the nave, and even the bell tower has the tower style of Roman architecture, so it looks very different from the common Gothic. .




Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

This church is well-known in Catholicism. It is the mother church of the Franciscans and a famous Catholic pilgrimage site. However, the appearance is so simple and Gothic style is very common in Italy.

This is only the upper part of the church building, and the other half is below. It is a unique upper and lower church (for details, please refer to the public account written before). The scale of the stained window is not large, so a large flat wall is reserved for decoration. Murals, Italian churches may be too fond of frescoes, so most Gothic churches are full of frescoes, which is very special.







Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Nave

You can see the quarter-ribbed arches and pointed arch windows on the roof, which are obvious Gothic architectural features, but the walls are more flat and can make murals everywhere.





Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore



Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

This church is also Gothic, yes, very atypical Gothic, and has the largest church dome in the world. The building structure at the dome is nearly Byzantine, but the structure of the nave is indeed Gothic. There are four Split rib arch, this church is very large, ranking fourth in the world and third in Gothic.

There are too many special cases in Italy, so I won’t introduce them one by one. Again, the characteristics I summarize are only the regular Gothic churches. If you encounter a situation that does not match, please don’t raise the bar, because there are many special cases. There are too many churches using several architectural styles at the same time. Isn’t it good to have commonalities and individualities? Finally, I will post some Gothic cathedrals that are worth seeing. Let’s enjoy them!



Duomo di Milano

Milan Cathedral is the largest Gothic church. The picture does not look high enough, because it is too wide. This church has been built for 600 years. In order to complete it as soon as possible, Leonardo da Vinci was specially designed and a canal was dug in Milan. For transporting stone, the sculpture scale of Milan Cathedral is also the world’s first.



Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), Germany

I took this photo myself, because the church is too high, and I can’t take a more comprehensive photo of the square space at the entrance, and most of the towering twin towers on the top are blocked.









Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral, France

Since the eleventh century, it has been the seat of almost all the coronations of French kings, and is known as the most beautiful church in France.








Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens, France

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Amiens is the largest church in France, large enough to hold two Notre Dame cathedrals, and a classic example of the Gothic style.




Westminster Abbey, UK

Westminster Abbey, also known as Westminster Abbey, is one of the most famous religious buildings in the UK. Traditional place for coronation and burial.




Canterbury Cathedral, UK

One of the oldest and most famous Christian buildings in Britain, built in 597 and completely rebuilt in 1070-1077, it is very old.



Gloucester Cathedral, UK

The tall bell tower is at the back of the church, a common form of British style, but a lot of Romanesque style is retained in the church, which is very special in Britain.



Cathedral of Seville, Spain

The third cathedral in the world, the second cathedral in Gothic style, second only to the Duomo in Milan, this church was converted from a mosque, so the architectural style is very complex and diverse. main.

There are still many famous churches. I don’t have enough space to introduce them first. It’s not that I personally prefer Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and I have introduced more. It’s that almost all the best churches in Europe are concentrated in these countries. The influence of the cathedrals in northern Europe is far less. The cultural and economic level of the Middle Ages was more prosperous in the south.
The length of this issue is relatively large, but it is still only a taste. The love of architecture and the experience accumulated in Europe for several years, I hope to help you a little, and welcome professional criticism and correction.

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