Pre-Romanesque (6th century)

Different Germanic tribes settled in Europe, and combined Roman, Early Christian, and Barbarian traditions to create the first style out of the “Dark Ages.”

Interior Of The Palatine Chapel, Aachen Cathedral in Germany. A Large room with a chandelier, stained glass windows and various religious elements. Moreover, there are visitors in the pews in the foreground.
Palatine Chapel in Aachen, Germany

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/d4f456f4-336c-43cc-a8f7-136d3c6382e5 by Jim Linwood

The Merovingians, the Carolingians, and the Ottonians

These Frank dynasties wanted large buildings with stones cut precisely and resemblance to the Roman basilicas. These structures were based on a combination of block units used to form a complex internal space and a rich external silhouette. This is an anticipation of the vertical emphasis and other hallmarks of the Romanesque style.

These architectural elements were common to this style:

  • Round arches
  • Barrel vaults
  • Piers and aisles with galleries above them
  • Semi-circular arches as windows, doors, and arcades
  • Ornamented portals around the main door named tympanum
Hildesheim - Michaeliskirche Interior: A simple church with striped arches, Blank, tan-colored walls and a crucifix at the end of the isle. Small arched windows sit at on the middle of the dome near the back of the photo.
St. Michael’s Church, Hildesheim (Germany)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/60101a9a-8622-4cf4-9bc9-a40137cef8be by roger4336

In Europe, Roman architectural tradition survived because the Franks continued to build large stones buildings like monastery churches and palaces.
The unification of the Frankish kingdom under Clovis I, brought to light the need for churches. Further, the former ones were now the power-houses of the Merovingian, which wanted to continue the Roman basilica tradition.

The Merovingian dynasty was replaced by the Carolingian dynasty. Thus, Carolingian architecture began to surface in the Holy Roman Empire, and these successive Frankish dynasties contributed to the Romanesque architecture.

Codex Aureus abbey of Echternach: A large, rectangular art structure with religious imagery of Jesus in the center. Further, the background is in gold, while the center is depicted in a clean stone.
Codex Aureus at the abbey of Echternach (Luxembourg)

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Aureus_of_Echternach#/media/File:CodexAureusEpternacDEckel.JPG

Pre-Romanesque in Northern Europe

The Anglo-Saxon identity was shaped in Northern Europe, with emphasis on intricate metalwork, ivory carving, sculpting, and illuminated manuscripts, which had plant scrolls combining Celtic and Viking traditions. The Religious architecture was usually simple and modest, without any decorations.

Anglo-saxon reliquary crucifix: A chocolate-colored cross with a light stone Jesus.
Anglo-saxon reliquary cross

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_reliquary_cross

Pre-Romanesque in Southern Europe

Signs of Pre-Romanesque style in Spain and Portugal came from the Visigothic art, which introduced the horseshoe arches to the Moorish style and improved jewelry.

Photo of Saint Fructuoso Chapel in Portugal, which is a large stone building without windows and a fence in front.
Saint Fructuoso Chapel, Braga, Portugal

Image source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappella_di_S%C3%A3o_Frutuoso_de_Mont%C3%A9lios#/media/File:Capela_de_S._Frutuoso.JPG

Italy benefited from the Arabs of the Normans and contributed to the First Romanesque style. The external part of their buildings was adorned with several blind arches named Lombard bands, accompanied by thick walls and no sculptures. The interior usually featured iconographic mosaics and frescoes instead.

Inside of a large domed building. There are two columns in the front of a domed-area with tourists and larged arched windows. Moreover, the dome is covered in intricate religious paintings.
San Vitale in Ravenna

Image source:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/bb83afd8-a6d2-40e4-a3fa-ba415b6efd20 by seier+seier


Info suorce:

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-arthistory/chapter/romanesque-architecture/
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