History of Gothic Architecture
Gothic architecture is a style that originated in 12th-century France and spread throughout Europe, reaching its apex in the mid-14th century. Centuries later, the style continues to influence the construction and design of buildings across the globe. But what is the answer to the question, “Where was Gothic architecture started?” It likely began in the town of Citeaux, in 12th-century France.
Cistercian Monks at Citeaux
The Cistercian Monks at Citeaux are credited with being the first to have introduced the Gothic design to architecture. The monks sought to create a unique, minimalist interior style that went against the more ornate architecture of the time. The result of their design ethos was the pointed arch and ribbed vault, which allowed the construction of larger, more grand structures.
Weight and Height
The hallmark feature of Gothic architecture was its verticality. Gothic buildings were designed to be lightweight and airy, but also high and imposing. Structural advances in the design of arches and vaults enabled builders to construct higher, thinner walls, making the structures seem almost ethereal.
Changes in Ornamentation
The Gothic style also revolutionized the way the outside of a building was decorated. Traditional Romanesque architecture focused on the protection of the building’s interior from the elements, resulting in plain walls. By contrast, the Gothic style emphasized elaborate exterior ornamentation, with intricate and highly sophisticated decorations.
Window Designs and Panes
Gothic builders also developed ways to create large windows with many small panes, which allowed more light into the structure and made the building more appealing. These windows, with their pointed arches, were some of the most distinctive features of the Gothic style, making them a favorite of architects, builders, and art historians alike.
Expansion of the Style
The style of Gothic architecture had an incredibly wide geographic reach. It was popularized in southern France and spread to Spain, Britain, and the rest of Europe. Gothic buildings are renowned for their beauty and have become signature landmarks of many cities across the world.
Gothic Architectural Legacy
Though it is no longer the main style of architecture, Gothic design still influences modern design in many ways. Architects are still utilizing the pointed arch and ribbed vault, although in more subtle ways. Gothic style is often used to evoke a feeling of mystery, grandeur, and awe.
Combination of Romanesque, Oriental, and Islamic Influence?
Gothic architecture is thought to be the result of a combination of Romanesque, Oriental, and Islamic influences. This mixture of styles allowed for the production of highly ornamental buildings, with intricate detailing and soaring vaults. Architects, such as Viollet-le-Duc, greatly admired the Gothic style, and strove to make it even more ornate and impressive.
Analysis of Gothic Architecture
The success of Gothic architecture was due in part to its ability to combine strength, elegance, and beauty in one structure. Its preference for light structures and tall walls was also a way of pushing the boundaries of architectural design and engineering. Gothic designs quickly became popular, and the style spread quickly across Europe.
Gothic Architecture Across the Globe
Today, Gothic architecture can be found in countries all over the world, from Russia to India, and even the United States. Though it is no longer the predominant style of architecture, Gothic architecture continues to inspire and captivate modern architects.
Preservation of Gothic Architecture
Preserving Gothic architecture is an important part of maintaining the heritage of medieval Europe. Organizations such as the World Monuments Fund work to preserve Gothic buildings, ensuring future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty of these monumental structures.
New Age Gothic Architectural Designs
In recent years, the Gothic style has seen a resurgence in popularity. Architects are modernizing it, combining Gothic forms with modern materials and construction techniques. These new age Gothic designs are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in architectural design.
Popularity of Gothic Architecture
Gothic architecture has achieved lasting success, both in its own time and beyond. Its combination of strength and beauty, along with its innovative structural designs, make it a style that is still being studied and admired by architects centuries after it was first introduced.