To understand the comparison of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the influence of architecture on buildings and their structures must be appreciated. Architectural styles are incredible elements of any building. Most buildings are erected to function with little or no decorative features. Nonetheless, architecture is a critical part of a building that gives it its elegance, its grace, and the most dazzling distinction that can be found in buildings. Architecture defines the purpose of a building, it gives it themes and makes it lovable to the interest of the designer and the owner.
The comparison between Romanesque vs Gothic architecture is discussed as a result of the similarity between the two architectural designs. They both were developed between 11 and 12th century. Romanesque architecture belonging to the 11th century while Gothic architecture belongs to the mid 12th century. Architectural designs speak volumes when they are intentional, woven around profound meanings and intentions, and for particular purposes, religious or entertainment.
The buildings which had Romanesque and Gothic architecture embedded in them took decades to complete. They are massive buildings and structures propagating the elements of the two architectural designs. At this period, builders can change the design halfway the completion of a building for custom and style. That is, to make it more stylish and fashionable. Also, there is sometimes more than one architectural style in a building, that is, a cathedral can be embedded with Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles.
Romanesque Architecture was the architectural style of early Rome. At this period in Rome, pilgrimages were contemporary and prominent feats for Christians. It was a spiritual journey that allows people to move around seeing relics. People spend less time in purgatory to earn God’s favor while they spend more time with the relics because of the belief that it has miraculous healing powers.
Pilgrimages and/or spiritual journeys became more popular and mansions, cathedrals were built massively in the course of promoting spiritual tourism. In Romanesque architectural cathedrals, the most obvious structure is the Roman arches which were used to serve the structural purpose as well as a means to design the cathedral.
Another form of the Romanesque Architecture is the barrel vaults and groin vaults. The use of barrel and groin vaults led to the construction of massive walls and piers. The barrel vaults and groin vaults required massive walls and piers to support them without which, the roofs may collapse.
A striking and distinctive feature of the Romanesque architecture is seen in the interior of a cathedral. The interior of the structure is very dark because there was an insufficient number of windows. This is because, with heavy roofs, heavy walls are needed, and heavy walls with heavy windows would be a compromise to its long-lasting capability. Hence, candlelight was always lit to replace the windows which are however different from Gothic architectural designs.
Another particular feature of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture is the use of three portals. That is three entrances to the cathedral. The three portal is a consideration and a connection to the triumphal arch that is in Constantine. It is also a symbol representing the trinity: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The area above the doorway is often called the tympanum which is decorated with Last Judgement scenes. This is because, at that period, it was believed that Christ will come soon. Also, at that period, medieval justice was important and it often took place at the front of the cathedrals. It served as a means to remind people about heaven.
Also, Romanesque architecture has a simpler and more squat-like design than Gothic architecture. Romanesque cathedrals are tall and spread out, more horizontal with the shapes of symmetry in the building.
However, both Romanesque cathedrals and Gothic cathedrals have the shape of the cross in a thick and elongated way. This is because each structure is meant to relate to the message of the church.
The buildings of cathedrals assessed the skills of builders and architects during this period. Although buildings were erected to a limit, the ideas and techniques persist strikingly and it has proved significant to study. Although, the ideas and methods had barely a difference to that of the Romanesque.
In the mid 12th century, an idea of a revolutionary technique and construction that would improve the world emerged. This revolutionary idea that would raise cathedrals to a new phase of sophistication was designed by Abbot Suger. A style that is now known as Gothic architecture. The style was first manifested in France at Sondini near Paris. Abbot Suger rebuilt part of the church burial place of French kings. He used a new kind of an arch that wasn’t round but pointed.
Abbot Suger wasn’t after a massive building, his intention was shaped by theology. This was a theology of light. In the medieval period, religious thinkers hold light as a manifestation and epitome of spirit. Abbot Suger himself expressed it as a means to illuminate the darkness of the mind into the ravishing true light of Christ; a light that’ll dull the darkness of the mind and bestow resurrection.
One trait that is distinct in both Romanesque architecture and Gothic architecture is the identity of the kind of arches the structure has. If it has pointed arches, it is Gothic. Pointed arches are designed to aid the dispersing of the stress of a building on the arches, unlike the Romanesque round arches. For example, pointed arches channel the stress of the building directly to the ground while the Romanesque arches put the tress more into the walls because the arches are round in shape. Hence, Gothic cathedrals appear taller in structure than Romanesque’s.
The Flying Buttresses is another characteristic of the Gothic cathedrals. The Flying Buttresses is characterized by having buttress semi-detached from the wall but it has a flier connected to it to collect some stress of the building and support it from collapsing to the angle that it is built.
This innovation authorizes architects to add more designed glass windows. By this, a distinct feature of the Gothic cathedrals from the Romanesque is the lights. Gothic cathedrals are lighter in the interior because of the rose windows which was popular in the cathedrals. The first cathedral designed by Abbot Suger who later became a special advisor to the king of France is known as the St. Denis Cathedral.
Further, the use of heavy ornamentation and color differentiates Gothic from Romanesque architectural design. Gothic cathedrals are created not just in majesty and magnificent edifices, they have giant towers but also had paintings illuminating in colors with intricate paintings inscribed on them.
Romanesque Architecture is founded on the kind of arch that the Roman used, the arch which is the round arch. The shape was often a circle, either a full semicircle or a compartment of a semicircle. Sometimes, it is curved and slightly distorted. However, the Gothic architecture was based on pointed arches which are stronger and flexible than the round Romanesque architecture. This distinction shaped the entire manner in which cathedrals were conceived, built, and designed.
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