I’ve always loved architecture. It is so fascinating – they way people can create a building that makes a huge impression of power, tradition, grandeur, historical presence… Gothic architecture is my favourite of all. Its very large windows, pointed elements and the rich colours create an impression of something majestic and royal, doesn’t it?
Gothic architecture originated in the 12th century France and lasted until approximately 16th century. There was a gothic revival in the 19th and 20th centuries but it’s not my focus here.
The features which make this style so prominent and always different from others is the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress. It is a truly genius construction because it makes the impression of being very light, while having a huge weight smartly distributed on the sides.
These buildings had to be built out of very good and reliable material (limestone, sandstone, marble) because it was a civic architecture – churches, castles town halls. These kind of constructions promote the image of the city and are expected to be of excellent quality. Such buildings took decades to finish but the result we still can see today!
How can you see a gothic building if you don’t know anything about architecture? It’s height. It has a perfect proportion to the width of the building. The nave (the central approach to the high altar) is usually much taller than the width of the whole construction.
This architecture was, as it often happens, highly criticised as it first appeared. But then people saw the unique ability of the architects to combine the stability with the desired impression that they wanted to create – power and grandeur. That’s why it became the main style for the kings to build their castles and churches. And it remains until today the most impressive technique, just look at Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame de Paris, Barcelona Cathedral, Cologne Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, Town Hall in Brussels, St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague to name a few.