View Full Version : Gothic Architecture

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004, 04:33 AM
This is a subject I have been reading a little about lately and found out some interesting things. While reading this I found myself taken back to prior discussions long ago about defining what is southern, central and northern European. As I also have a biased interest in northern France I found it interesting to see how, through architecture such as that of Gothic Cathedrals, it is possible to define location. Perhaps you all have read of the subject before in which case I guess I am just ignorant, but I thought I'd share this anyways.

As we know the Gothic style first developed in Normandy and Burgundy, France during the Renaissance period. It was a type of architecture which originally seems to have been strictly "northern". The Italians, originally opposed to this style, called it "maniera Tedesca" and applied the word "Goth" to the civilisations of the barbarians and when using the word they meant the "perfection of barbarism". When this style of architecture first arose, some viewed it to be a barbarous style which payed no attention to beauty or preportion. Even though a symbol of Christianity, it is interesting that even centuries after the destruction of the Germanic "barbarians", particularly the Ostrogoths, that the name is carried on by people of these origins.

Gothic architecture in places like northern France, England and Germany seems to have been constructed in consideration of longer winter months(and so the retaining of heat), less sunlight and other issues brought on by winter. Retaining heat was very important. This is why we see a difference between the wider and less congested southern European cathedrals and the northern which tended to narrow.

Steeper were required due to the northern storms and masses of snow that would accumulate on a more level roof.

The windows are far larger and more numerous than in the South. Why? All the sunlight was needed in winter, and it could not be oppressive in summer. Thus we see how climate affected the style of architecture that would grow up in a country. In the hot South the cool, dark churches are a relief from the tropical heat, but here more light was needed to offset the many short and cloudy days.

I just found it interesting how borders are not always defined in obvious ways, but in more subtle ways such as architecture.

If anyone here has more info on the subject please share. I am aware that I only touched on the matter briefly but hopefully it'll help get some info flowing back and forth.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004, 05:16 PM
I suggest you to read Rosenberg´s "Myth of the 20th century", especially Book II, Chapter 3 :

The Gothic signifies the attempt -- undertaken in seriousness only once in the entire history of architecture -- to shape a spatial art out of a metaphysical feeling of time. The essence of time is conditioned by one direction in contrast to the three dimensions of space. The Gothic knows only a succession of forms, a striving in but one direction. It is therefore involved in a struggle with the material; with the stone block, with horizontal load and vertical support, and with the space requiring media, the surface of the walls, the roof. Gothic is therefore the fulfilment of a longing which knows only forward motion. It is the first embodiment in stone of the dynamic western soul, such as painting later attempted to reembody, but which could only completely realise itself in music and, occasionally, in drama. From this universal viewpoint, Gothic is already in its highest degree -- personal. It is the eternal, irrational will of the west in the time conditioned form of one of its rhythmically recurring upward flights.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004, 05:31 PM
Two examples of Gothic architecture. The cathedrals of Cologne and Reims:

Saturday, February 24th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Stephansdom, Vienna, Austria
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium
Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark
Cathédrale d'Amiens, Amiens, France
Cologne Cathedral, Germany
Utrecht Cathedral, the Netherlands
Uppsala Cathedral, Sweden
Westminster Abbey, London, UK