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Medieval architecture in Western Europe

Medieval architecture in its development passed through two successive stages: an early period of the Romanesque style (XI-XII centuries) and late – Gothic period (XII-XV centuries).

The early period of feudalism is characterized by land fragmentation and internecine wars between feudal lords. These conditions are reflected in the architecture. For building choose in a strategic manner. Building otvechala of defence; the walls and arches make a massive, luminous apertures resemble loopholes of the building topped with watch towers. These characteristics of the Romanesque style found in the buildings of the period of early feudalism in all the countries of Europe.

The Romanesque style was based on the experience and elements of Roman stone architecture, hence its name appeared in the NINETEENTH century.

The characteristic features of Romanesque architecture except the thick walls, which was semicircular arches and barrel or cross vaults. To support the weight of the stone needed a very thick column, which was sometimes replaced with powerful cross or octagonal poles – pillars. The Romanesque capitals had simple geometric shapes, often adorned, in spite of constructive logic, the carved relief images.

Arose the peculiar synthesis of sculpture and architecture. Sculpture was an integral part of the design of the portals of cathedrals. The sermon in stone is often called sculpture in Romanesque cathedrals. Frozen in stone images of sacred characters had no less impact force than the word. Monuments of Romanesque architecture survive pretty much throughout Western Europe. Huge, strong and majestic temples in the cities and monasteries were located from each other at a distance of bell ringing. Often they had to act as a fortress for the entire population of the city or ward.

The lords of this castle was their home-a castle surrounded by deep moat, surrounded by high walls with towers and a drawbridge leading to the gate.

Fortress – here the image that is born when you look at the monuments of Romanesque architecture, the image carries a sense of stability and permanence.

The architects of medieval Russia created variants of the Romanesque style, embodied the national forms and traditions. The Romanesque style is found in Pskov and Novgorod architecture of XII-XIV centuries.

Fig. Novgorod Kremlin — a monument of Russian architecture of X-XVII centuries. According to historical records was founded by Prince Yaroslav the Wise in 1044 year. The Novgorod Kremlin is the oldest surviving in Russia Kremlins.

The most famous monuments of the Romanesque style:

· The Imperial cathedrals in Speyer, worms and Mainz in Germany;

· Libpulse Cathedral in Germany;

· The Pisa Cathedral and partly the famous leaning tower of Pisa in Italy;

· The Abbey of Maria Laach in Germany;

· The Church of St. Jacob in Regensburg;

· Romanesque churches in Vall de Boi.

The Gothic style (from ital. gotico, literally — Gothic, from the name of the Germanic tribe is ready), Gothic style, artistic style, which were the final stage in the development of medieval art in Western, Central and partly Eastern Europe (between serediny and 15-16 centuries). The term “Gothic” was introduced by the Italian humanists of the Renaissance as pejorative designation of all medieval art, which was considered “barbaric”.

Unlike Romanesque-Gothic style characterized by elongated forms up large public buildings (churches, town hall), which tower over the other buildings of the city.

The ideology and the culture time remained feudal Gothic Church; Gothic developed in areas dominated by the Catholic Church, and under its auspices. Gothic art remained primarily a cult for the intended purpose and religious topics: it was correlated with eternity, with “higher” irrational forces.

The leading type in the Gothic epoch, became the Cathedral as the highest example of synthesis of architecture, sculpture and painting (represented in the Gothic stained-glass Windows mostly). Huge, incommensurable with the man the space of the Cathedral, the aspiration to the sky its towers and arches, the subordination of the statues of dynamic architectural rhythms, surreal glow of stained glass had the strongest emotional impact on believers.

Began to develop urban planning and civil architecture (houses, town hall, Guild houses, shopping arcades, warehouses and city towers-“Beffroi”, etc.). Developed urban architectural ensembles, which included religious and secular buildings, fortifications, bridges, wells. The main town square was surrounded by houses with arcades, retail and warehouse space in the lower floors. Usually from the square dispersed radial streets, narrow facades 2-5-storey houses with high Gables lined up along the streets and embankments. Improved the construction of fortifications: cities were surrounded by strong walls, gate towers were richly decorated; the castles of the kings and the feudal lords gradually lost the impregnable appearance, turned into a complex of fortress, Palace and religious buildings. In the center of the city, dominating its buildings, the Cathedral or the castle.

Emerged in the era of Gothic bold and sophisticated frame design of the Cathedral made it possible to overcome the inertia and massiveness of the Romanesque buildings, to facilitate the walls and vaults, to create a dynamic spatial cells and greatly improve the interior. The Cathedral became the center of city life (often he would hold the entire population of the city). Along with the divine service in cathedrals were held theological debates, played out the mystery, was the Assembly of citizens. Ideological and artistic contents of the Cathedral’s hard, versatile and aesthetic: he conceived a sort of vault of knowledge (at that time mainly theological), the symbol of the Universe; the whole artistic story of the Cathedral, which combined solemn grandeur with passionate dynamics, infinite abundance and variety of plastic motifs with a strict hierarchical system of subordination, expressed not only generated a feudal society the idea of social hierarchy, the power of divine forces over man, but also a growing self-consciousness of cities, the creative efforts of the team, inspiring stone building.

Fig. A cross section of Reims Cathedral

The most famous monuments of the Gothic style.


· Cathedral in Chartres, XII—XIV centuries.

· Cathedral in Reims, 1211-1330. where were crowned the French kings.

· Cathedral in Amiens, 1218-1268.

· Notre Dame de Paris, 1163 — XIV century.

· Cathedral in Bourges, 1194 G.

· The Canterbury Cathedral of the XII—XIV centuries the main Church of the English Kingdom

· The Westminster Abbey of the XII—XIV centuries in London

· Cathedral in Salisbury 1220-1266.

· The Cathedral to Exeter in 1050,

· Cathedral in Lincoln K. XI.

· Cathedral in Gloucester XI—XIV centuries.

Czech Republic

· Gothic architecture of Prague

· St. Vitus Cathedral (1344-1929.)

Fig. Interior of a Gothic Cathedral

Fig. The interior of the chapel of the Paris Sainte Chapelle.

Fig. The evolution of the interior of a Gothic Cathedral. 1. Early Gothic style. France (Notre Dame Cathedral). 2. Mature Gothic. France (the Cathedral at Reims). 3. The late Gothic. England (the”decorated style”; the Abbey of Guisborough). 4. “Perpendicular Gothic”. England (the Cathedral in Winchester).

II. The practical lesson

III. Summing up the classes

Dear friends, we touched Beautiful! Monuments of medieval art in Western Europe, a constant reminder of his relatively recent barbaric past, manifested in the pre-Christian motif woven ornament, the figure of fantastic creatures emerge from a vegetative plexuses of the Romanesque capitals or gazing down from the heights of a Gothic Cathedral.

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