Gothic Architecture: How the Style Came to Be

Gothic architecture definition

The Gothic architecture definition can be referred to as a specific style of architect used in Europe between the 12th and 16th centuries. Using a unit-building method (masonry) to construct such an architectural style, Gothic architecture enhances large amounts of space and height to accomplish its vision. Amongst the time period between the 12th century and the 16th century, the gothic style architecture developed and experienced throughout certain years.

What Is Gothic Architecture?

Gothic architecture and its style are seen as some of the most prominent European (and European-influenced) genres of architectural design. Evolving from the Romanesque style period, Gothic architecture arose from the architects predominately in France and other European countries. The history of Gothic architecture expands over some centuries, but it clearly took its reign in the midst of the changing times. Evolving from the artistic time period of Romanesque art, Gothic style architecture took its leap into to designed and crafted structure and was then proceeded by the Renaissance and its creations.

There are several Gothic architecture characteristics, and some have grown more (or less) throughout its time. At the beginning of its creation, Gothic architecture in the 12th to 13th centuries consisted of some of the first devised constructions to be as big as they were. The Gothic cathedral architecture included an immensely tall structured building while keeping as much natural light into the cathedral itself. The gothic architecture features also introduced stained glass windows, which brought sunlit patterns of beauty into the Gothic architecture buildings as well.

Where Did Gothic Architecture Begin?

Types of Gothic Architecture

Gothic style architecture began in Europe and eventually expanded into Britain. Initially, in its first hundreds of years, Gothic architecture reigned most significantly throughout France (predominantly in the Ile-de-France northern region of the country, which includes the city of Paris). One of the most famous references of Gothic cathedral architecture is the Abbey of Saint-Denis in Paris, France. Engulfing all of the Gothic architecture elements, this construction was one of its first in the country. France was the country that dominated The High Gothic years (1250-1300).

Though other countries including Germany, Spain, and Britain immersed in the Gothic style as well, it wasn’t until later on that these countries embraced Gothic architecture more so. In reference to such geographic location, as France consumed the Gothic style architecture and Gothic architectural elements, Italian-Gothic stood more on its own, as the rest of the countries revealed the Gothic style with more ease. As time continued and the period of the Renaissance entered into the world in all its ways, Gothic architecture was overpowered by new design style but remained dominant in countries such as Belgium and England. Even with new architectural styles and genres being founded and formed, as time went forth into the 19th and eventually 20th centuries, Gothic style architecture was used to produce buildings for university campuses. Igniting such a style in Europe, but eventually leaking into other countries such as America, and perhaps some of the Scandinavian countries as well.

Types of Gothic Architecture

Most notable of the Gothic style is the Gothic cathedral architecture. Gothic architecture elements included towering foundations, stained glass windows, natural light, pointed archways and curves, a rib vault, and flying buttresses. These characteristics of Gothic architecture were what established such success in Europe. As the Late Gothic period approached in the 15th century, Germany served as a host to introducing vaulted hall churches to Gothic architecture. Other Gothic styles include the British-created Perpendicular style (dominant in vertical stone lines of design), as well as Spanish and French Flamboyant style (recognized by having interest and focus on decoration).

Gothic style architecture

Most commonly, Gothic style architecture is found through European countries and their churches or historic cathedrals. All more so related to religious practice and establishments. To identify Gothic cathedral architecture, remember to look for the Gothic architecture characteristics. The Gothic architecture features prominently include the pointed arch, stained glass windows, and flying buttresses. The majority of these designed buildings will be located in France, but make sure to observe and appreciate those that are founded in the rest of Europe and Britain as well.

Some of the most notable examples of Gothic architecture include:

  • Cathedrale Notre-Dame located in Paris, France
  • Westminster Abbey located in London, England
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore located in Florence, Italy
  • Sainte-Chapelle (chapel) located in Paris France
  • Cologne Cathedral located in Cologne, Germany
  • St. Vitus Cathedral located in Prague (Prague Castle)
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