Gothic architecture

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Gothic architecture and Renaissance architecture are both the comprehensive look of civilization in their ain times. Gothic architecture started in 12th-century France and lasted for 4 centuries, into the 16th. After that, Renaissance architecture took the topographic point of Gothic architecture from 15 century until 17 century from Florence, Italy. Different time-backgrounds, societal civilizations, spiritual believes and different aesthetical criterions from beginnings are the chief grounds that formed these two mutual opposition architectural manner, Gothic and Renaissance. They represent their clip and state, going a specific linguistic communication. In this essay, I will analyze and compare two finest plants from each epoch, Amiens Cathedral and Florence Cathedral, seeking to happen out the contrast of these two architecture manners through the angle of historical development on European architecture.

Time background and features of Gothic architecture

Gothic architecture evolved from Romanesque architecture and so flourished during the high and late medieval period. Gothic started from the twelfth century France and it spreaded to the full Europe, particularly south and in-between Europe ‘s architecture are profoundly influenced.

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Europe was divided into a battalion of metropolis provinces and lands at the terminal of the twelfth century. Throughout Europe archived its flower because of the rapid growing in trade and the development of artisan industry, and an associated growing in towns ( Banister, 1975 & A ; John 1950 ) . Because of Germany and the Lowlands were in comparative peace, emerged tonss of big booming towns. With the intent of competition with other towns, or united for common wale, citizens had really high enthusiasm to construct spiritual edifices. Those edifices were importance to these towns, represented wealth and pride. At that clip, spiritual architectures like churches, cathedrals, abbeys were non merely used as unalloyed spiritual architecture, they became the cardinal of civic lives, became as halls, Hanseatic Leagues, even markets or theatres. Not merely the spiritual architectures, many palaces, universities, municipal halls were built in Gothic manner and remained boulder clay today. Few of domestic houses were Gothic manner. In the other word, Gothic architecture embodies the power of the swayers of the twenty-four hours.

Gothic architecture is the zenith of European medieval architecture. No affair the technology engineerings or the agencies of artistic look both achieved an unprecedented degree, and therefore came the aureate clip of European spiritual architecture. Churches edifices are the most elegant and brilliant craft of building among all Gothic edifices.

Amiens cathedral is the most typical Gothic architecture ; we can about happen all of the Gothic architecture Characteristics in this edifice. Amiens cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral. It is located in Amiens, the main metropolis of Picardy, North of Paris. It is the tallest complete cathedral in France, with the nave high 42.30 m, and it has the greatest interior volume, estimated at 200,000 m? ( Wikipedia, 2009 ) . It is said that it can incorporate all citizens in Amiens metropolis at that clip and more than sufficient ( Baidu, 2009 ) .

Features of Amiens cathedral

Gothic art non merely can been shown on the Gothic spiritual edifices, but besides picture, sculpture and trades. A batch of sculpture, alleviations and lighted entrywaies of the cathedral, allow the Gothic church edifices going art galleries. These sculptures and pictures break out of the scope of faith and restrict, stress portray of characters, freshness seeking for accurate human histology. It presents a new idea, a trade name new art creative activities tend was increasing through these Gothic humanistic disciplines in church edifices, and it might take to the Renaissance art. ( Huihua, 2004 ) The Western portals of the Amiens cathedral have a batch of outstanding elegant art works. Especially their luxuriant sculpture, having a gallery of locally-important saints and big eschatological scenes are rightly celebrated. In the book Mr Standfast, John Buchan has his character Richard Hannay describe the Amiens cathedral as being “ the noblest church that the manus of adult male of all time built for God. “ ( John,1960 )


Gothic architectures have no rigorous restraint on the chosen of stuff. Mainly Gallic Gothic churches employed limestone as the stuff. In England, Germany and Italy, heavy stuffs such as marble, sandstone, brick and rock are besides be used. Amiens cathedral, merely like the largely Gallic churches use limestone as stuff.

Amiens cathedral have a really standardised Gothic church ‘s Latin cross or “ cruciform ” program. The long nave makes the organic structure of the cathedral. Beyond a cross arm called the transept, there is an extension which may be called the choir, sanctuary or presbytery. In other Gothic churches architectures, there are several fluctuations on the program because of the regional grounds.

Gothic architecture made a discovery of Romanesque manner, utilizing sprightly ogival or pointed arch, forceful steeples and tonss of narrow long Windowss alternatively of heavy form, stableness and hemicycle arch, accent Gothic churches ‘ verticalness. These features application, aimed to make a powerful feeling on the nearing people, bespeaking the might of God and the might of the establishment that it represents.

Like other Gallic cathedrals, Amiens cathedral is emphasis its tallness, both existent and relative. The 42.30 m tallness nave is even well taller than the breadth. On the inside of the Amiens cathedral, there is no interruption of the perpendicular lines. 126 elephantine pillars rise up from the floor straight to the ceiling, and run into the ribs of the vault. The walls and long narrow Windowss are all follow the regulation of verticalness. Through these methods, it leads people ‘s sight up to the high, create an feeling of pious and transcendency of God, and the dream of Eden.

The intervention of perpendicular elements in gallery and window tracery of largely Gallic and perpendicular period of English Gothic churches shows a strongly consolidative characteristic that counteracts the horizontal divisions of the interior construction. ( Wim, 1985 )

Rose Windowss are applied widely in the design of Gothic churches. In Amiens cathedral, rose Windowss can be found above the entryway and transept. This is the rose window above the west entryway of the Amiens cathedral. In Amiens cathedral, brick or rock is non the chief portion of the walls, but colored spectacless, which tells many narratives of Gods, in order to educate people who can non read at that clip. All the rose Windowss and long narrow Windowss are utilizing stained glass. The large contrast of dark walls and bright gorgeous Windowss gives a cryptic feeling.

The winging buttress is a important component or characteristic contributing to the spanking looking of Gothic cathedrals. The winging buttress was used as a construction component, back uping the walls vertically. But in some Gothic architecture, it comes to go a sort of ornament of edifice. The winging buttress outside the clearstory walls, diminishing the solidness of construction virtually, made the bishop’s throne looked as being suspended from Eden. Furth more, it besides played a function to equilibrate the web of inside vaults ribs to give the same feeling of a tent-like canopy over the fold (, 2009 ) . In “ Art Through the Ages ” , writers describe the winging buttress as “ like slender extended fingers keeping up the walls ” . ( TANSEV. R, KLEINER. F. S & A ; CROIX. H, 1995 )

The ribbed vault is another importance feature of Gothic architecture. The ribbed vault is made by uniting three separate but affiliated arches. These are the cross arches that span the terminals of the vault, the sidelong or longitudinal arches that span the length or sides of the vault, and the two diagonal arches that reach from corner to corner. ( Parry. S ) This simple building dominated the mediaeval building because of it is merely constructed, strong and flexible.

Time background and features of Renaissance architecture

The Renaissance architecture appeared from the fifteenth century Florence, Italy, and so it spread to other European states like France, Germany, England, Russia and elsewhere rapidly, and formed regional Renaissance architecture manners. At the terminal of the fourteenth century, the bud of capitalist economy in Europe. With its development, people in that epoch changed their attitude and demand of art. Renaissance is a Political and cultural motion, which aim to bury the darkness regulation of spiritual category in medieval in Europe. The freshly emergent middle class against feudal nobility, and at the same clip, they besides fight with spiritual forces. In their head, the though the mediaeval civilization as historical arrested development, they describe the epoch as “ dark and brutal clip ” . Authoritative Greece and Rome civilization was extremely praised as luciferous and well- developed civilization. From so on, the whole Europe went into the Renaissance. In brief, we can happen that, both the Gothic and renaissance architecture, the manner of architecture changed and fit the swayers gustatory sensation, as a consequence, influence on the architecture manner of that age. Because of the alteration of swayer, tonss of commercial edifices like town halls, theatres, castles and domestic edifices all built in Renaissance manner, non merely the spiritual churches.

St. Peter ‘s Basilica

St Peter ‘s basilica can be though as one of the most outstanding spiritual Renaissance edifices. St. Peter ‘s Basilica is located within the Vatican City. St. Peter ‘s Basilica can keep 60,000 people inside of it, been considered as the church with the largest inside of any Christian church in the universe. It has a really high position of Christian churches, and it is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. The St. Peter ‘s basilica was described as “ keeping a alone place in the Christian universe ” ( Lees-milne. J, 1967, P. 12. ) and as “ the greatest of all churches of Christendom ” by Fletcher ( FLETCHER.B, 1996, p. 719 ) . It is the most outstanding edifice inside the Vatican City. Its dome is an outstanding symbolic characteristic of the Rome skyline. It covers 2.3 hectares with a capacity of over 60,000 people.

Features of St Peter ‘s basilica

Gothic architecture emphasizes its verticalness. But renaissance designers paid tonss of attending on symmetricalness, proportion and geometry of edifices. The fa & A ; ccedil ; ade is 114.69 metres broad and 45.55 metres high.Not as the Amiens cathedral utilizing pointed arch, steeples and tonss of narrow long Windowss to increase the ocular verticalness feeling, the St Peter ‘s basilica been put accent on its horizontality, symmetrical around its perpendicular axis. Its fa & A ; ccedil ; fruit drinks is surmounted by a pediment and organized by a system of pilasters, arches and entablatures ( ) . The columns and windows show a patterned advance towards the centre. You can besides happen fancy sculptures of Gods at the top of the basilica. Compare to Amiens cathedral ‘s intricate ornament, colorful West entryway and a good many sculptures on the surface of the cathedral, the St Peter ‘s basilica ‘s visual aspect seems more maestoso and laconic.


As the same ground as the designer of Amiens cathedral, the designer chose to utilize monolithic white travertine rock as the edifice stuff for the interest of high spot the solemn and saintly of the basilica. For Gothic architectures, rocks and spectacless are the merely used stuffs. For the St Peter ‘s basilica, brick masonry is used for the domes every bit good. Some other Renaissance churches, lumber and brick are besides be used for domes.

The St Peter ‘s Basilica took about 120 old ages to complete. Lots of designers and creative persons worked together to fall in the design of the basilica, and made great part. So we can state that, the St Peter ‘s basilica is an collection of greatest Renaissance designers and creative persons ‘ brightness. Donato Bramante was the first architect get down the rebuilt of the St Peter ‘s basilica. Photo 11 is the program that Bramante designed, which followed the Renaissance thought, using an tremendous Greek cross with a dome in the center, inspired by that of the immense round Roman temple, the Pantheon. But he did non blindly follow the authoritative manner. Bramante employed four big wharfs to back up the basilica.

Latter Bramante was replaced with Giuliano district attorney Sangallo, Fra Giocondo and Raphael. The construct of the 4 wharfs remained unchanged. In Raphael ‘s design, he added a row of complex apsidal chapels off the aisles on either side. He besides reduced the size of towers to specify the squareness of the exterior walls. And the semi-circular apsiss more clearly defined by encircling each with an ambulatory ( Wikipedia ) .

It can non deny that Michelangelo made greatest part to the design of the basilica. The edifice remained now was built base on his design, although in his design he reconsidered the obvious programs and made some betterments. Michelangelo replaced every corner of the Raphael ‘s program with little vestries to film over the definition of the geometry.

Columns and pilasters are the most obvious component of Renaissance architecture, they are besides an incarnation of the Renaissance though, which is the authoritative columns and pilasters presents the harmoniousness and senses of ancient Greece though. The whole series of columns and pilasters were continued to utilize by Renaissance architecture. Peoples tried to understand ancient Greeks ‘ understand of human organic structure. So the base of the column was regarded as homo ‘s pes, the chief organic structure as the organic structure, and the capital as homo ‘s caput. A elephantine order of pilasters set at somewhat different angles to each other was employed on the surface of the exterior walls of St Peter ‘s basilica. They do non like columns have supportive map, they are purely ornament intent. Columns were used inside of the edifice. As introduced the basilica is supported by 4 wharfs, the columns take the function of ornament in this instance.

Semi- round arch, which was shunned by Gothic architecture represent its value on Renaissance architecture. They are used in arcades, supported on wharfs or columns with capitals. In my point of position, the pointed arch in Amiens cathedral gives a cryptic feeling, but on the other manus, the Renaissance semi-circular arch accidently gives people a daze of God. And the vaults without ribs continue follow the semi-circular or segmental form. All the vaults are on a square program, unlike the vault of Amiens cathedral, which is rectangular.

The dome of St Peter ‘s basilica is the tallest point of the Vatican City. The basilica becomes the landmark of the Vatican metropolis of the twenty-four hours, the conspicuous dome made the most important part to this consequence. Qua the tallest 1 among all Renaissance domes, the dome ‘s tallness is every bit tall as 136.57 metres, accounting from the floor to the Ag cross on the top of the dome. Its internal diameter, somewhat smaller than Pantheon of Ancient Rome and Florence Cathedral, is 41.47 metres. I thing Michelangelo Buonarroti ‘s dome is another technology success after the Florence cathedral. The dome is constructed similar as the dome of Florence cathedral, which has two shells, but the St Peter ‘s outer shell has 16 strong rock ribs, as twice of the Florence cathedral. The 16 braces of 15 metres height columns visually buttress each of the ribs, but really they are excess in construction of the dome.

There are some gaps along bottom border of the dome, which subdued light up the elegant picture inside of the dome. Openings on the top of dome Lashkar-e-Taiba bright sunshine goes directly into the inside of the basilica, light up the interior room of course. Furthermore, the strong sunshine contrasts with the shadowing infinite, making a saintly feeling.

As the same as largely Gothic architecture, the ceiling of Amiens cathedral is left unfastened. The interior aesthetics rely on visible radiation and shade contrast by the consequence of colorful Windowss. The St Peter ‘s basilica is comprehensive decorated. Roofs are fitted with coffered ceilings, which are painted. Not merely the ceiling, but besides inside of domes are painted by celebrated Renaissance creative persons. Fancy sculptures can be seen on every surface of wharfs, including some Michelangelo ‘s masterworks.


After all, the idea of the society limited the architecture manner of the twenty-four hours. So Gothic architecture and Renaissance architecture were both influenced by the peculiar politic, economic system, civilization and art of the clip. After all, all architecture manners centered around the swayers ‘ gustatory sensation, and so influenced all the edifice manner of that epoch. From here we see that architecture, as the symbol of the age, besides can show the features of the society. Therefore, in order to fulfill the demand of new societal, political and civilization, architecture signifier altering along with the clip. On the other manus, the development of technology techniques and stuff gave a solid support for the development of new architecture.


  1. Banister FLETCHER, A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method, June 1975
  2. John HARVEY, The Gothic World, 1100-1600: A Survey of Architecture and Art, 1950
  3. Amiens Cathedral, from Wikipedia, hypertext transfer protocol: //, modified on 24 December 2009
  4. Amiens cathedral, hypertext transfer protocol: //, modified on 27 December 2009
  5. John BUCHAN, Mr Standfast. London: Penguin Books, 1960
  6. Huihua HUANG, the difference features between Gothic architecture and Renaissance architecture, 2004
  7. Wim SWAAN, The Gothic Cathedral,1985
  8. Flying buttress, hypertext transfer protocol: //, 2009
  9. Richard TANSEV, Fred S. KLEINER, Horst De LA CROIX, Gardner ‘s Art Through the Ages, 1995, hypertext transfer protocol: //
  10. Stan PARRY, the cardinal elements of Gothic architecture, hypertext transfer protocol: //
  11. “ Claims made that the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Africa is larger appear to be specious, as the measurings include a rectorship, a Villa and likely the forecourt. Its capacity is 18,000 people against St. Peter ‘s 60,000. Its dome, based on that of St. Peter ‘s, is lower but carries a taller cross, and therefore claims to be the tallest vaulted church. ”
  12. James Lees-Milne describes St Peter ‘s Basilica as “ a church with a alone place in the Christian universe ” in Lees-Milne 1967, p. 12.
  13. Banister FLETCHER, the celebrated architectural historiographer calls it “ … The greatest of all churches of Christendom ” in Fletcher 1996, p. 719.
  14. Wikipedia, Renaissance architecture, hypertext transfer protocol: //,2009
  15. Wikipedia, St. Peter ‘s Basilica,2009

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