The Gothic Style
The term Gothic style in architecture has taken many forms. The term Gothic originated in France. It is best known through the Gothic cathedral. Through engineering, intellect and spirituality these cathedrals perfectly express the medieval mind. This style was widespread throughout Europe. Unlike other arts, this style was not uniform in nature nor was it uniform in date. This style has three main chararistics that make it its own unique style, known as Gothic. First it is known for its pointed arches that rise above the churches. This not only represents a symbol of Gothic spirituality, but a practicality in engineering. These arches redistributed the thrust of downward force in a more equal controllable directions. Second it is known for the massive ribbed vaults that are seen along the ceilings of these churches. These ribbed vaults enabled the buildings to achieve new heights. Third it is known for the flying buttresses that were used to let the outward thrust of the vaults go gracefully to the ground through a series of arches. These were essential to allow the large distinct Gothic windows to be placed in the walls without losing strength. The flying buttresses were a big architecture advance in this time. If these were not invented Gothic would of never of been the same. There are many gothic churches that are still found throughout Europe today.
The first church is probably one of the best known for its Gothic style. This church is named the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis. The Abbey Church of Saint-Denis is located near Paris, France. Between 1135 and 1137 this church began to be rebuilt from a fire that it suffered through. A man known as Sugar, abbot of Saint-Denis, was the one who rebuilt it. The beginning of Gothic style can be pinpointed to the planning and construction of this one building. Sugar visited several artists throughout Europe when he was designing the structure. He felt the church should be an attainment of outward splendor, spectacles offered to God. He was able to guarantee funds so that there wasn?t any limitations put on the work of the structure. The pointed arches and ribbed vaults have been used before, but never in such a way that the heaviness of the Romanesque style was transformed. It was transformed into the lightness of slender supports and bearing walls. This was more of a structural relationship rather than a structural form. This was something new and enduring to architecture. The interior of this structure had smooth walls and beautiful forty-foot windows that lighted the entire church. Most of the building supports could only be seen from the exterior of the building. Sugar had created what the called, ?a new dimension, a new spirit.? He also insisted that he had his design on the highest value of harmony. This church was the first built in the Gothic style, which is still prominent today.
The second church I would like to address is the Notre Dame, which is located in Paris. This church is known as an early Gothic style. The four square power of this church reflected the strength and solidity of an urban cathedral. Its design is a highly mathematical one. Each level is equal to the one below. It is divided into three parts, which are clearly symbolic of the Trinity. It also has a beautiful rose window on the second level. It does not have the same flying buttresses as The Abbey Church of Saint-Denis had. It is a very square massive structure that is also very Romanesque. Unlike the Saint-Denis the Notre Dame has two towers that rise above the church as the Saint-Denis only had one. The next Gothic church that is mentioned in this chapter is The Cathedral of Amiens this church is very similar to the Notre Dame, but instead of creating a feeling a power through its architecture it creates a delicate feeling. This cathedral shows some late developments in the Gothic style. It also teaches an important lesson in the way a design can be used to elicit response. This church has a less stolid approach than that of the Notre Dame. The structure focuses our attention on space rather than flat stone. This feeling is enhanced by greater detail. This cathedral is also divided into three layers as that of the Notre Dame. This structure also has a beautiful rose window located on the second level. The Amiens however doesn?t appear to look as heavy and massive as the Notre Dame. Every use of line, form and proportion reinforces lightness and action of this structure. The Notre Dame and Amiens were definitely built with the Gothic style in mind. These two structures are very different than the design of the Saint-Denis, but all three are still Gothic.
As you can see all three of these churches are considered Gothic, yet all three have there own distinct looks and design. One thing that I have observed in these churches and cathedrals is the distinct rose window located on the font of these structures. Gothic structures are known for there long narrow windows, but I haven?t seen anything addressing these rose windows directly. I think that these rose windows are extremely beautiful and definitely add character to each of these structures. The Gothic period lasted through the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and is still seen throughout Europe today. These structures are definitely some of the most beautiful and unique ones in the world. During this time these structures not only represented their religion, but also their country our town. The stained glass windows in these structures were phenomenal for their time, it is amazing that a forty-foot window could be constructed of little pieces if glass and iron. These structures are truly fascinating and have a definite place in the history of Europe. The Gothic still in my opinion is one of the most distinct styles that have been created.