Medieval Styles

The Medieval Styles, developed during the Middle Ages, included major art movements and regional artists.

Aachen Cathedral And Palatine Chapel - Germany: A large ornate castle-like structure.
Medieval Style- (Aachen Cathedral And Palatine Chapel – Germany.)

Image source: by Jim Linwood


Pre-Romanesque is a period of Medieval Style starting from the Merovingian kingdom or the Carolingian Renaissance and continuing to the early 11th-century Romanesque period.

The term is often used in English to talk about architecture and monumental sculptures only. The main theme during this period was the introduction and combination of classical Mediterranean sensibility with the Germanic style, which embraced innovative new forms. Medieval art was preceded by the Migration Period art of the “Barbarian” peoples: Hiberno-Saxon in the British Isles and Merovingian on the Continent.

The Byzantine Dome mosaic from around 800: An octagonal gold roof-dome shown from the ground. There are various people painted along the edges. Moreover, the tops of the arches that hold the roof up can be seen lining the frame of the photo.
The Palatine Chapel in Aachen (Germany)- The Byzantine Dome mosaic from around 800

Image source: by Polybert49


Romanesque architects worked on a variety of different projects. The most common were village churches, abbey churches, cathedrals and castles. The monumental abbey churches were the most important of these, and most are still in use. Typical features of Romanesque architecture include:

  • Semicircular arches: Most arches were semicircular, but a few buildings have pointed arches. Narrow windows or doors featured with a stone lintel. Larger openings were always arched in this style
  • Thick walls: These massive supporting walls had few openings and were used to contain the need for buttresses
  • Arcades: Row of arches, sustained by either columns or piers. Capitals could often be the ones of Corinthian style
  • Roofs: Made from wood or stones, with vaults made of stone or bricks
  • Towers: Were a regular feature of Romanesque churches and could be of several forms: square, circular and octagonal towers
Photo of St. Peter's Dome, located in Tuscania, seen from the outside. An arch made of bricks enframes the facade of the Dome.
St. Peter’s Dome, in Tuscania
Source: Duomo di San Pietro a Tuscania,_Tuscania,_VT.JPG by Quaserta

The Birth of Gothic

Gothic architecture took the name from opus francigenum, which literally means “French work.” However, the Gothic term was initially negative, as it suggests something barbaric.

Gothic architecture spread over Europe in the Middle Ages. Born out of Romanesque architecture, it is common, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

Nave of Notre-Dame de Paris: A photo of the inside of a large, gold church. There are people in the pews attending mass. Moreover, the dome at the end of the isle has three stained-glass panels in arched-shapes.
Interior of Notre Dame

Image source: by Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada

Its main features are rib vault and flying buttress, which allow the counterbalancing of the roof with buttresses put outside the building. This gives a sense of greater height and more space for windows.

Photo of Notre Dame from the outside. Two towers sit side by side with various ornate architectural details. There are three arched doorways along the ground, the second row has a circle center, with two side by side arches on either side, as well as a pointed tower in the center.
Notre Dame de Paris

Image source: by Carlos Delgado

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