Gothic Architecture originated in
France in the 12th century and existed in
the western half of Europe through the
middle of 16th century.
Gothic architecture is most familiar as
the architecture of many of the
great cathedrals, abbeys and churches of
Europe. It is also the architecture of
many castles, palaces, town halls, guild
halls, universities and to a less prominent
extent, private dwellings.
For this reason a study of Gothic
architecture is largely a study of
cathedrals and churches.
It evolved from Romanesque
architecture and was succeeded by
It is characterized by building of
great cathedrals, a progressive
lightening and heightening of
structure, and the use of pointed
arch, ribbed vault, flying
buttresses, and a system of richly
Very high towers and spires and roofs
Clustered columns: tall columns that looked like a group of thin columns bundled
Ribbed vaults: arched ceilings made of stone. In the Gothic style they were held up by
Tracery: carved stone lace in the windows and on the walls
Stained glass: richly coloured glass in the windows, often with pictures telling stories
Buttresses: narrow stone walls jutting out from the building to help hold it up
Flying buttresses: buttresses that help to hold the vault up. They are made with an
arch that jumps over a lower part of the building to reach the outside wall.
Statues: of Saints, Prophets and Kings around the doors
Many sculptures, sometimes of animals and legendary creatures. Gargoyles spout
water from the roof.
There are usually there richly carved
doorways in the western facade
Deep doorways are formed
by receding columns with
arches above them.
Gothic Style allowed for high
walls, allowing larger
windows, more light.
The plan is shaped like a cross.
The long nave makes the body of the
church and, crossing it, the arms are called
On the other side of the transept is
the chancel which is often called the choir.
The nave has a passageway or aisle on
either side. Sometimes there are
two aisles on each side.
The nave is usually a lot taller than the aisles, and has
high windows which light up the central space.
The upper part of the building, where these windows
are, is called the clerestory (or clear storey).
It is simply known as the Gothic
Arch and was reconstructed from
cylindrical vault of Roman
There are four stones at the end of
the arch supporting the power from
the top so that the height and the
span of the arch are no longer
restricted and the arch can be
made as large and high as possible.
Buttress is a supporting facility to share
the pressure from the main walls.
It has been largely used in Roman
The original buttress was solid and
covered by the roof.
However, the buttress with Gothic style
is exposed out to be known as flying
Due to the further requirements of the
height, the role and appearance of
buttress have been greatly enhanced.
It is coved with complicated decorates
and elaborate carvings.
The stained glass, covered with religious stories which
helped to illustrate the doctrines to illiterate people is of
high artistic achievement.
There are two main colors, blue and red.
Blue symbolizes the heaven and red symbolizes the
blood of Christ.
The stained glass creates a mysterious but brilliant
scene, which express people’s longing for the kingdom of
STAINED GLASS AT OPERA CATHEDRAL,ITALY
A vault supported by or decorated with arched
The Gothic vault, unlike the semi-circular vault
of Roman and Romanesque buildings, can be
used to roof rectangular and irregularly shaped
plans such as trapezoids.
Pointed arch channels the weight onto the
bearing piers or columns at a steep angle.
This enabled architects to raise vaults much
higher than was possible in Romanesque
The facade of a large
church or cathedral, often
referred to as the West Front,
was generally designed to
create a powerful impression
on the approaching
both the might of God, and
the might of the institution
that it represents.
One of the best known and
most typical of such facades
is that of Notre Dame de
Many churches were very richly decorated,
both inside and out. the statues were often
painted in bright colours
The statues, the decoration, stained glass
windows and wall paintings told Bible stories
such as how God created the world and how
he rules over everything that is in the universe,
the seasons of the year and the stars in the
Right Portal of Chartres Cathedral: Throne of Wisdom
• impression of
• two large towers
• extreme length
• internal emphasis upon the horizontal
• double transepts
Different building materials were found in different parts of Europe. This is one of the
differences in the architecture between different places.
In FRANCE, limestone was readily available in several grades,
the very fine white limestone being favored for sculptural
ENGLAND had coarse limestone, red sandstone and dark
green Purbeck marble which was often used for architectural
decorations like thin columns.
In ITALY, stone was used for fortifications, but brick was
preferred for other buildings.
Interior of Amiens Cathedral, France.
In Northern Germany,
The clear proportions
of Florence Cathedral ,
ITALY are defined by dark
stone against the colourwashed plastered brick.
Netherlands, Denmark, Baltic
countries and northern Poland
there was clay for making bricks
and tiles. So many of these
countries have Brick Gothic
churches and even Brick
ELEMENTS OF A GOTHIC CHURCH
This picture with parts cut away shows
the columns, the stone ribs of the roof
and the buttresses of a Gothic church.
Built in the
16th in the
Work began on
Portal , in 1145
design used at
W. Face of