Gothic Church Architecture

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 19 December 2016

Gothic Church Architecture

The Gothic church architecture was developed in accordance to the Norman architecture during the Medieval England. The term “Gothic architecture” was used for portraying the styles of the buildings constructed between 1200 until 1500. There are numerous styles in the span of the Gothic era, and it is an imperative to divide the styles in three parts. The structures built during 1200 to 1300 were pertained to as Early English. In 1300 to 1400, the styles built were called “Decorated” while the term “Perpendicular” was used for the structures built from the 1400’s to 1500’s.

Most Gothic cathedrals are well-noted for their large towers and spires, which are the very reasons that the era of Gothic was considered to have been able to provide incomparable knowledge in the field of engineering. Most Gothic churches were created out of stones that were cut accordingly to fit other blocks of stones with ultimate accuracy. The walls and pillars of the structures were solid enough to enable the structure to hold much weight. Because of these, churches most especially the cathedrals are relatively larger compared to the other structures back then.

The sizes of the churches and the cathedrals depends on the amount of money the bishop and the town’s people have thus, the large cathedrals of today may be accounted to rich bishops and the generosity of the town’s people to fund the churches and cathedrals back then (Trueman, 2008). Another noteworthy characteristic of Gothic churches are the vaults which were placed on the roofs. The main reason behind most of the Gothic churches having vaulted roofs is that builders during that time thought that the presence of these can reduce the possibility of fire occurrences.

In addition, it also creates the inside appearance of the cathedrals appear as though it was finished. Meanwhile, the cathedral figurines known as gargoyles and other sculpted figurines like humans and animals are also common among Gothic churches. The gargoyles were built in order to help let out the rain water coming from the roofs during rainy seasons. It is evident that most of the churches during the Gothic era have these figures. The gargoyles and the other figurines were installed within the flying buttresses.

The buttresses were meant to provide support for the walls of the cathedrals and churches in order to avoid the whole structure in leaning forward because of the pressure from the vaults. If not for the flying buttresses, the whole cathedral had the possibility to collapse (Trueman, 2008). Perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of the Gothic church architecture is the roof. There are many variations as to how the roofs of churches appear. Some of which are pointed, others are flat and some appears to have domes, others even have different colors.

Although there are various appearances on most of the churches roofs, some notable commonality were drawn from these roofs. Like any other roofs, those of the cathedrals were created to block the weather in penetrating the interiors of the churches. It is also common in Gothic church roofs to have gargoyles installed. Apart from these, all the roofs were supported by woods that help prevent the roof from collapsing. Moreover, the roofs were built of limestones.

Compared to the Romans who used heavy materials for construction, the roofers during this era used light materials such as tiles, lead and slate to complete the construction. Once inside Gothic churches, a person will notice large stained glass windows that are considered as the “spectacular spectacles” of every Gothic church interiors (Lee, Arndt & Goldmacher, 2008). The remarkable Church of Saint Denis in France is one of the earliest churches that used the “new vertical style,” known as Gothic.

It was created during 1140 until 1144. The facade of the church was created from the influence of Roman style. However, it was later reconstructed to move away from the low style of the Roman construction (Craven, 1999). Like any other Gothic churches, the Basilique Saint-Denis took on some of the original form of Gothic architecture, the most important of which are the innovative structure of “cross rib vault” and the flying buttresses (“History of Gothic architecture,” 2008).

Another characteristic of the church that is typical among Gothic churches is seen on the stained glass windows. The church windows come in shades of mauve, blue, purple and rose. The said windows were restored during the 19th century. Today, the church is regarded as an architectural landmark that is well known as the burial site for the kings of France over the past centuries (“Basilique Saint-Denis, Paris,” 2008).

Aside from contributions in the field of engineering innovations, the accomplishments brought by Gothic church architecture created a significant impact on the field of architectural design at present. Although the cathedrals and churches amounted to a fairly large sum of money because of the designs and complexities, it is through these architectural styles which the people back then were able to manifest the spiritual ideals that is thought to glorify the Deity.

In addition to the spiritual purposes that cathedrals and churches served, these structures built out of the Gothic style were also a testimony of man’s creativity.


Basilique Saint-Denis, Paris. (2008). Sacred Destinations Travel Guide. Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. sacred-destinations. com/france/paris-st-denis. htm. Craven, J. (1999). Gothic Architecture. About. com. Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://architecture. about. com/od/earlychristianmedieval/ss/gothic. htm. Lee, A. , Arndt, J. & Goldmacher, S. (2008).

Gothic cathedrals. Think Quest Oracle Education Foundation. Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://library. thinkquest. org/10098/cathedrals. htm. History of Gothic Architecture. (2008). The Leo Masuda Architectonic Research Office. Retrieved July 29, 2008, from http://web. kyoto-inet. or. jp/org/orion/eng/hst/gothic/sandeni. html. Trueman, C. (2008). Gothic Church Architecture. HistoryLearningSite. com. Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. historylearningsite. co. uk/gothic_church_architecture. htm.


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  • University/College: University of California

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  • Date: 19 December 2016

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