Comparative of St. Sernin of Toulouse and Notre Dame at Amiens Essay

Comparative Essay of St. Sernin of Toulouse and Notre Dame at Amiens

St. Sernin Basilica of Toulouse does not appear as a typical Romanesque edifice; despite it was built in this period. Most of its features and the style in general is closer to the Gothic architecture, namely because of a cross-shaped plan, walls constructed of brick, vaulted ceiling, buttresses, radiating chapels and an ambulatory, uncommon to Christian churches of early age. On the other hand, its western Romanesque style is apparent inside embracing all signs of a fortress, such as smaller windows, solid walls deviating the incoming light and present colors, and the figures flattened into those walls. The sculptures represent biblical personages and scenes, while the ornamental and animal compositions “demonstrate domination of rich decoration in Romanesque style” (Toman & Bednorz, 2008). Both religious and mythological themes are apparently present in the cathedral’s iconography, being somewhere reminiscent of antique times.

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In comparison, Amiens Cathedral, the excellent sample of Gothic architecture that greatly imitates famous Notre Dame de Chartres, being the highest and the most spacious French cathedral built on the town’s cornerstone, distinguishes itself by stylistic unity (partially caused by fire and further urgent construction), ornate architecture influenced by Rayonnant and Flamboyant styles (e.g. wooden tracery), the longest nave, walls painted to emphasize Gothic elements, and the special arrangement of jamb figures showing variety of scenes from the Bible. Iconography is more unified (Jantzen, 1984).

  The presence of elevation on east end of St. Sernin also adds to the Romanesque style of the basilica. As for the vaulting system, it is very regular and geometrically precise. The module of the entire church is the crossing square with heavy arches. In Gothic churches cross-ribbed vaulting owes to higher mastery of architects making the ceiling higher by additional transverse rib across the center.


Jantzen, H. (1984). High Gothic the Classic Cathedrals of Chartres, Reims and Amiens.  Prinestone University Press

Toman, R., & Bednorz, A. (2008). Romanesque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting.

   H. F. Ulmann


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