Gothic Architecture

Visiting most European cathedrals, abbeys and parish churches that were built between the 12th century and the 16th century, you will notice the intricate, almost gaudy structure with its peaks and spires and flying buttresses. These architectural feats are commonplace for Gothic architecture. Used also in castles and palaces as well as government buildings and universities, but lesser found in private dwellings, as its construction was extremely costly.

Named not from the historical Goths, but from Giorgio Vasari to describe the culture that was considered rude and barbaric. At that time, Italy was building classical structures and looked to the European buildings as garish and showy.

The Gothic architecture utilizes local resources such as various grades of limestone, and colored marble. Not only was this a new building style, but also architects were able to utilize new technology. The ogival and pointed arches were integral in the Gothic architecture. Emphasizing verticality and light, the inside -walls- were not solid ones that we commonly know, but looked more like the skeleton of a building. Clustered columns, pointed ribbed vaults and flying buttresses were the finished effect.

The Gothic architecture of cathedrals and abbys were designed to be landmark buildings and rose high above the rest of the town’s structures. Another fantastic characteristic of the Gothic architecture in these buildings was the enormous towers, pinnacles and spires that loomed over the town. On the inside, the pointed arches emphasized the height and helped to enhance the decoration of the interior.