The medieval architecture of churches

The Medieval Architecture of Churches

During the Medieval Era or Middle Ages, the concept of arts was not separated from religion. The products of art back then were inspired by the spiritual symbols of the religions. It was during this period as well that the great churches were made. Many of these churches in Europe had biblical tales in them. The Romanesque was a style of architecture developed in Italy and in Western Europe from 800 A.D. until 1100 A.D. This was the style between the Roman and the Gothic style. This style was characterized through the used of the round arch and barrel vault, replacement of piers for columns, the enhancing use of nave, and few windows. Also during this period the churches were designed in a cruciform figure where there is the high altar, choir, crossing, transepts and the nave. The Romanesque churches are heavy and gloomy for they are heavy and rock-solid. The next phase is the Gothic Period, just right after the Romanesque Period. Unlike the Romanesque architecture, the Gothic was light, large, and refined. The piers of the Romanesque period were replaced by more slender columns and the sizes of the windows grew larger as well. It has also ribbed vaults and flying buttresses. These flying buttresses were used to lessen the weight of the ceiling. And the most evident feature of the Gothic churches was their pointed archs. These modifications were made for the people to be more comfortable inside the churches.

One of the most known churches of the Romanesque Period is the Cathedral of Pisa. It is located in Italy near the celebrated Leaning Tower of Pisa. This church was made with the orientation of stonework, cut stones and white marbles. It has a five-naved basilica and the three-naved transept. Lies within this church are the mummified remains of its patron saint, which is St. Ranieri and as well the tomb of the late Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VII. From within, one could see the big round archs of the church that supports its entire structure. Also, one could see the different sculpture made by the architects and sculptors back then. And from the outside, one could see the heavy and large archs and pillars that support the church.

One of the good examples of a Gothic church is the Saint-Entiene Church located in France. Like the Cathedral of Pisa, the St. Entiene was also designed to have a cruciform figure. Also the remains of the late Duke William the Conqueror were buried in the choir of the church. From the inside of the church, the nave elevation has three levels and the modification of the columns made up the ribbed vaults. It is also evident that the round archs were already pointed, which add up to its gorgeousness. And from the outside, the church has three large openings, which are supported by the flying buttresses.

Though these two examples of churches, one could see the changes that were made during the medieval era in the church infrastructures. This could only mean that the society made these alterations for the betterment of the people in the society.


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Campagne de Caen. Abbey Church of Saint-Etiene. Retrieved May 16, 2008, from



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