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Lecture Session 3
Dr. Binumol Tom
Department of Architecture,
College of Engineering, Trivandrum

Gothic Architecture
(12 15th century)
Gothic architecture began mainly in France, where architects
were inspired by Romanesque architecture and the pointed arches of
Spanish Moorish architecture.
It's easy to recognise Gothic buildings because of their arches,
ribbed vaulting, flying buttresses, elaborate sculptures (like
gargoyles) and stained glass windows.
Gothic architecture was
originally known as French Style. During the period of
Renaissance it fell out of fashion and it was not respected by many
artists. They marked it as Gothic to suggest it was the crude work
of German barbarians (Goths).
Examples of Gothic architecture: Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
and St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

Gothic Architecture
Meaning of Gothic
Dark Age
Invading barbarians from the north ruined
ancient art and replaced it with their own

Goths took Rome in 410

little damage but became known as the first
tribe of barbarians and thus the name

Skeletal stone structure

Visual arts were
important including the
role of light in structures

Translations of real events
into stone and glass

Cathedrals served as an
image of heaven

Structure of a typical Gothic


Characteristics of Gothic

airy and bright

focus on verticality
pointed arches
rib vaults
flying buttresses
large stained glass
ornaments and

Gothic architecture is not

merely about ornamentation.

The Gothic style brought
innovative new construction
techniques that allowed
churches and other buildings
to reach great heights.
One important innovation was
the use of pointed arches.
Earlier Romanesque churches
had pointed arches, but
builders didn't capitalize on
the shape.
During the Gothic era,
builders discovered that
pointed arches would give
structures amazing strength
and stability.

Gothic Architecture: The

Pointed Arch
Builders turned from the semicircular,
unbroken arch to the pointed arch
Looked lighter and pointed upward
Exert less thrust than semicircular arch of
the same span
Solves geometric difficulty inherent in
ribbed vaults
Impossible to arrange all arches and ribs to a
common level using exclusively semicircular ribs
With a pointed arch, ribs could easily be made

Gothic Architecture: The

Pointed Arch

The Rib Vault

Rib Vaults
Organic metaphor
alluding to the role of
ribs in anatomy as the
bodys skeletal structure
supporting tissues
Arches, usually three
pairs per rectangular
bay, running diagonally
Cross ribs act together
with outer frame to create
a complete armature of
arches along the edges
and main folds of the

Earlier Romanesque

churches relied on barrel

Gothic builders
introduced the dramatic
technique of ribbed
While barrel vaulting
carried weight on
continuous solid walls,
ribbed vaulting used
columns to support the
The ribs also delineated
the vaults and gave a
sense of unity to the

Gothic Architecture: The Rib


Gothic Architecture: The Flying

In order to
prevent the
outward collapse
of the arches,
Gothic architects
began using a
"flying buttress"
brick or stone
supports were
attached to the
exterior walls by
an arch or a halfarch.

Gothic Architecture: The Flying

Flying Buttress
Effected by powerful
external arches swung
above the side aisles and
the ambulatory
Arches rise from colossal
freestanding piers
Absorb and channel disruptive
forces, such as wind and
weight, safely to the ground
Towering piers could be
erected without much
affecting the nave or choir

Gothic Architecture: The Flying


Stained Glass

Since the walls

themselves were no
longer the primary
supports, Gothic
buildings could include
large areas of glass.
Huge stained glass
windows and a
profusion of smaller
windows created the
effect of lightness and
The stained glass window shown here is
from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Cathedrals in the High Gothic
style became increasingly
Over several centuries, builders
added towers, pinnacles, and
hundreds of sculptures.
In addition to religious figures,
many Gothic cathedrals are
heavily ornamented with
strange, leering creatures.
These gargoyles are not merely
Originally, the sculptures were
waterspouts to protect the
foundation from rain.
Since most people in Medieval
days could not read, the
carvings took on the important
role of illustrating lessons from
the from the scriptures.

Gothic Floor Plans

Gothic buildings
were based on the
traditional plan us
ed by basilicas.
However, single
units were integrat
ed into a unified s
patial scheme.

Most Gothic churches, unless

they are entitled chapels, are of
the Latin cross (or "cruciform")
plan, with a long nave making
the body of the church, a
transverse arm called the
transept and, beyond it, an
extension which may be called
the choir, chancel. There are
several regional variations on
this plan.

Ameins cathedral

The nave is generally flanked on

either side by aisles, usually
singly, but sometimes double.
The nave is generally
considerably taller than the
aisles, having clerestory
windows which light the central

Wells cathedral

In some churches with double

aisles, like Notre Dame, Paris,
the transept does not project
beyond the aisles.
In English cathedrals
transepts tend to project
boldly and there may be two
of them, as at Salisbury
Cathedral, though this is not
the case with lesser churches.
In France the eastern end is
often polygonal and
surrounded by a walkway
called an ambulatory and
sometimes a ring of chapels
called a "chevet".
While German churches are
often similar to those of
France, in Italy, the eastern
projection beyond the
transept is usually just a
shallow apsidal chapel
containing the sanctuary, as
at Florence Cathedral.

Medieval man considered

himself an imperfect
reflection of the divine light
of God, and Gothic
architecture was the ideal
expression of this view.
New techniques of
construction permitted
buildings to soar to amazing
new heights, dwarfing
anyone who stepped inside.
Moreover, the concept of
divine light was suggested
by the airy quality of Gothic
buildings, which were much
lighter than churches in the
earlier Romanesque style.


in France

Gothic Architecture: Gothic

Architecture in France
First coherent example of Gothic
Appear in Gothic 12th century Paris
Cut stone masonry employed into vaulting,
rather than rubble masonry of the Normans
Arches and ribs designed with independent

Gothic Architecture in France

Abbey Church of
St. Denis
Definitive turning
point in early
French Gothic
Space, light, line,
and geometry
create transcendent
architectural vision

Architecture in

in France

Gothic Architecture: Gothic

Architecture in France
Gothic came to be associated with
urban settings and the extension of
the French Kings political influence
Two important French gothic
structures preceding Suger
Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Laon
Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Paris

Gothic Architecture: Gothic

Architecture in France

Gothic Architecture: Gothic

Architecture in France

Gothic Architecture: Gothic

Architecture in France
Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Paris
Bishop of Paris began construction in
A very tall church, reaching some 108
feet from the floor to the crown of the
The clerestories were enlarged around
1225 to bring in additional light
Not as well preserved as at Laon

Notre Dame Cathedral

Names: Notre Dame
Cathedral; Cathdrale
Notre-Dame de Paris
(Cathedral of Our
Lady of Paris)
Location: Paris, Ile-deFrance, France
Date: 1163-1345
Features: Medieval
Stained Glass;

History of the cathedral

The Notre Dame de Paris
stands on the site of Paris' first
Christian church, Saint Etienne
basilica, which was itself built
on the site of a Roman temple
to Jupiter.
Construction on the current
cathedral began in 1163
Construction of the west front,
with its distinctive two towers,
began in around 1200 before
the nave had been completed.
Over the construction period,
numerous architects worked
on the site, as is evidenced by
the differing styles at different
heights of the west front and
Between 1210 and 1220, the
fourth architect oversaw the
construction of the level with
the rose window and the great
halls beneath the towers.

History of the Cathedral

The towers were finished around
1245 and the cathedral was
finally completed around 1345.
During the reigns of Louis XIV
and Louis XV at the end of the
17th century the cathedral
underwent major alterations,
during which many tombs and
stained glass windows were
In 1793, the cathedral fell victim
to the French Revolution.
Many sculptures and treasures
were destroyed or plundered
The cathedral also came to be
used as a warehouse for the
storage of food.

Gothic Architecture: Gothic

Architecture in France

Double aisles ambulatories on a bent axial line

Transepts not projected beyond the aisle wall
High vault sexpartite vaulting covering double aisles (a ribbed
vault whose lateral triangles are bisected by an intermediate
transverse rib, producing six triangles within a bay)
Vault is 100ft (30m) high
Double span flying buttresses (earliest form)

Interior elevation 4
arcade of columnar
Tribune (originally
covered by transverse
barrel vault, and lit by
the round windows)
Decorative oculi
Small clerestory

North ambulatory looking east

Gothic Architecture: Gothic Architecture in


The west front of the cathedral is one of

its most notable features, with its two 69meter (228-feet) tall towers.

The Galerie des Chimres or Grand

Gallery connects the two west towers, and
is where the cathedral's legendary
gargoyles (chimres) can be found. The
gargoyles are full of Gothic character but
are not medieval - they were added during
the 19th-century restoration.
The King's Gallery is a line of statues of
the 28 Kings of Judah and Israel, which was
redesigned by Viollet-le-Duc to replace the
statues destroyed during the French
Revolution. The revolutionaries mistakenly
believed the statues to be French kings
instead of biblical kings, so they
decapitated them. Some of the heads were

Gothic Architecture: Gothic Architecture in

The beautiful West Rose Window dates
from about 1220.
The west rose window at Notre Dame is
10 meters in diameter and exceptionally
Dating from about 1220, it retains most of
its original glass and tracery.
The main theme of the west rose is human
life, featuring symbolic scenes such as the
Zodiacs and Labors of the Months.
On the exterior, it is fronted by a statue of
the Virgin and Child accompanied by
Unfortunately, the interior view of its
colorful medieval glass is now more than
half blocked by the great organ.

The south rose

window installed
around 1260.
its general themes
are the New
Testament, the
Triumph of Christ
The south rose is
12.9 meters in
diameter and
contains 84 panes of
Radiating out from a
central medallion of
Christ, it consists of
four concentric
circles of 12
medallions, 24
quadrilobes, and 24


in France


West front
has a solid
Triple portals
Gallery of
kings of the

The three west portals of Notre Dame Cathedral are

magnificent examples of early Gothic art.
Sculpted between 1200 and 1240, they depict scenes from
the life of the Virgin Mary, the Last Judgment, and scenes
from the life of St. Anne (the Virgin Mary's mother).

Portal of St. Anne

Gothic Architecture: Gothic

Architecture in France

Interior of Notre Dame


St. Patrick's

Notre Dame de Paris

Chartres is
one of the
most famous
cathedrals in
France, and
is widely
praised for
its sculpture,
windows, and
high gothic

Nave in four tiers, with

clerestories and triforiu
m under sexpartite vaul

St. Chapelle

In France the new style evolved
about 1280 which was a very
decorative phase called the
Flamboyant style. The most
conspicuous feature of the
Flamboyant Gothic style is
the dominance in stone
window tracery of a flame
like S-shaped curve.
In the Flamboyant style wall
space was reduced to the
minimum of supporting
vertical shafts to allow an
almost continuous expanse
of glass and tracery.
Structural logic was obscured
by the virtual covering of the
exteriors of buildings with

St. Maclou (Rouen) 15-16th

St. Severin-St. Nicholas


15th Century


English Gothic architecture

Historians sometimes refer to the
styles as "periods"
Early English (c. 11801275)
Decorated (c. 12751380)
Perpendicular (c. 13801520)
Early English Gothic
The entirety of Salisbury Cathedral
(excluding the tower and spire) is in the Earl
y English style.
Lancet windows are used throughout, and
a "pure" image is underlined by the relative
lack of embellishing as was found in Roman
esque buildings, and less detailed tracery th
an would be used in later buildings.
The Early English Period of English Gothic
lasted from the late 12th century until midw
ay through the 13th


Characteristics of the style

the pointed arch known as the lancet.
Through the employment of the pointed arch,
walls could become less massive and window
openings could be larger and grouped more
closely together, so architects could achieve
a more open, airy and graceful building.
The high walls and vaulted stone roofs were
often supported by flying buttresses: half
arches which transmit the outward thrust of
the superstructure to supports or buttresses,
often visible on the exterior of the building.
The barrel vaults and groin vaults
characteristic of Romanesque building were
replaced by rib vaults, which made possible a
wider range of proportions between height,
width and length.

The arched windows are usually narrow by

comparison to their height and are without
For this reason Early English Gothic is
sometimes known as the "Lancet" style.
Although arches of equilateral proportion are
most often employed, lancet arches of very
acute proportions are frequently found and are
a highly characteristic of the style.
A notable example of steeply pointed lancets
being used structurally is the apsidal arcade of
Westminster Abbey.
The Lancet openings of windows and
decorative arcading are often grouped in twos
or threes. This characteristic is seen
throughout Salisbury Cathedral where there
are groups of two lancet windows lining the
nave and groups of three lining the clerestory.

Characteristics of the style

Instead of being massive, solid pillars, the
columns were often composed of clusters of
slender, detached shafts surrounding a central
pillar, or pier, to which they are attached by
circular moulded shaft-rings.
Characteristic of Early Gothic in England is the
great depth given to the hollows of the mouldings
with alternating fillets and rolls, by the decoration
of the hollows with the dog-tooth ornament and
by the circular abaci of the capitals.
The arches of decorative wall arcades and
galleries are sometimes cusped.
Circles with trefoils, quatrefoils, etc., are
introduced into the tracery of galleries and large
rose windows in the transept or nave
At its purest the style was simple and austere,
emphasising the height of the building, as if
aspiring heavenward.

Decorated style(c.

The west front of York Minster

is a fine example of
Decorated architecture, in
particular the elaborate
tracery on the main window.
This period saw detailed
carving reach its peak, with
elaborately carved windows
and capitals, often with floral
The Decorated Period in
architecture is also known as
the Decorated Gothic, or
simply "Decorated
Traditionally, this period is
broken into two periods: the
"Geometric" style (125090)
and the "Curvilinear" style

Elements of the Decorated


Decorated architecture is characterized by its

window tracery.
Elaborate windows are subdivided by closely
spaced parallel mullions (vertical bars of stone),
usually up to the level at which the arched top of
the window begins.
The mullions then branch out and cross,
intersecting to fill the top part of the window with a
mesh of elaborate patterns called tracery, typically
including trefoils and quatrefoils.
The style was geometrical at first and flowing in the
later period, owing to the omission of the circles in
the window tracery.
This flowing or flamboyant tracery was introduced
in the first quarter of the 14th century and lasted
about fifty years. This evolution of decorated
tracery is often used to subdivide the period into an
earlier "Geometric" and later "Curvilinear" period.

Elements of the Decorated


Interiors of this period often feature tall

columns of more slender and elegant form
than in previous periods.
Vaulting became more elaborate, with the
use of increasing number of ribs, initially
for structural and then aesthetic reasons.
Arches are generally equilateral, and the
mouldings bolder than in the Early English
Period, with less depth in the hollows and
with the fillet (a narrow flat band) largely
The foliage in the capitals is less
conventional than in Early English and
more flowing.

Perpendicular Gothic
The interior of Gloucester
Cathedral conveys an
impression of a "cage" of
stone and glass, typical of
Perpendicular architecture.
Elaborate Decorated style
tracery is no longer in
evidence, and the lines on
both walls and windows have
become sharper and less
is so-called because it is
characterised by an
emphasis on vertical lines; it
is also known as International
Gothic, the Rectilinear style,
or Late Gothic.

Features of the style

This perpendicular linearity is particularly
obvious in the design of windows
Windows became very large, sometimes of
immense size, with slimmer stone mullions than
in earlier periods, allowing greater scope for
stained glass craftsmen.
The mullions of the windows are carried vertically
up into the arch moulding of the windows, and
the upper portion is subdivided by additional
mullions and transoms, forming rectangular
compartments, known as panel tracery.
wall surfaces are likewise divided up into vertical

Features of the style

Doorways are frequently enclosed within a
square head over the arch mouldings, the
spandrels being filled with quatrefoils or
Pointed arches were still used throughout the
period, but ogee and four-centred Tudor
arches were also introduced.
Inside the church the triforium disappears, or
its place is filled with panelling, and greater
importance is given to the clerestory windows,
which are often the finest features in the
churches of this period.
The mouldings are flatter than those of the
earlier periods
Some of the finest features of this period are
the magnificent timber roofs

St. Maclou

Added beginning of 16th

r: Gloucester

The Perpendicular style is a phase of late

Gothic unique to England. Its characteristic
feature is the fanvault


The Choir

The Tower


Vaulting in the nave

Vaulting in the

r Abbey in
London is
one of the

An abbey (from Latin abbatia, abba,
"father) is a Christian monastery or
convent, under the authority of an Abbot
or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual
father or mother of the community.
The term can also refer to an establishment
which has long ceased to function as an
abbey, but continues to carry the name
in some cases for centuries (for example,
Westminster Abbey).

North Entrance of
Westminster Abbey

Hampton Court palace, London

Hampton Court Palace, with marked reference points referred to on this

page.A: West Front & Main Entrance;B: Base Court;C: Clock Tower;D:
Clock Court,E: Fountain Court;F: East Front;G: South Front;H: Banqueting
House;J: Great Hall;K: River Thames;M: East Gardens;O: Cardinal

Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London

Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, and
the historic county of Middlesex; it has not been inhabited
by the British Royal Family since the 18th century. The
palace is located 11.7 miles (18.8 kilometres) south west
of Charing Cross and upstream of central London on
the River Thames. It was originally built for
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII,
circa 1514; in 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the palace
was passed to the King, who enlarged it.
The following century, William III's massive rebuilding and
expansion project intended to rival Versailles was begun.
Work halted in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct
contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor
and Baroque. While the palace's styles are an accident of
fate, a unity exists due to the use of pink bricks and a
symmetrical, albeit vague, balancing of successive low


Milan Cathedral
(Italian: Duomo di
Milano) is the
cathedral church of
Milan in Lombardy,
northern Italy.
The Gothic cathedral
took five centuries
to complete.
It is the largest
Gothic cathedral and
the second largest
Catholic cathedral in
the world.

Length 157metres
(515 ft)
Width 92metres (302
Width (nave)
16.75metres (55 ft)
Height (max)
45metres (148 ft)
Dome height (outer)
65.5metres (215 ft)
Spire height
106.5metres (349 ft)
Materials Brick with
Candoglia marble

The plan consists of a nave with four

side-aisles, crossed by a transept
and then followed by choir and apse.
The cathedral's five broad naves,
divided by 40 pillars, are reflected in
the hierarchic openings of the
Even the transepts have aisles.
The nave columns are 24.5 metres
(80 ft) high, and the apsidal windows
are 20.7 x 8.5 metres (68 x 28 feet).
The huge building is of brick
construction, faced with marble
The height of the nave is about 45
meters, the highest Gothic vaults of
a complete church.
The roof carries spectacular
sculpture that can be enjoyed only
from top. The roof of the cathedral is
renowned for the forest of openwork
pinnacles and spires, set upon
delicate flying buttresses.

The famous "Madonnina"

atop the main spire of the
cathedral, a baroque gilded
bronze artwork.

Milan Cathedral (Duomo)

The biggest and greatest late gothic architecture in Italy.

1386-1577, west front 1616-1813

The cathedral as it appeared in 1745.

The Cathedral in 1856.


The Cathedral
of Santa Eulalia
(also called La
Seu) in
Barcelona is
both Gothic
and Victorian.

Regional variations - France

The distinctive characteristic of French cathedrals,
and those in Germany and Belgium that were
strongly influenced by them, is their height and
their impression of verticality.
They are compact, with slight or no projection of
the transepts and subsidiary chapels.
The west fronts are highly consistent, having three
portals surmounted by a rose window, and two
large towers.
Sometimes there are additional towers on the
transept ends.
The east end is polygonal with ambulatory and
sometimes a chevette of radiating chapels.
In the south of France, many of the major
churches are without transepts and some are
without aisles.

Regional differences - Building


France - limestone. It was good for building because it was

soft to cut, but got much harder when the air and rain got
on it. It was usually a pale grey colour. France also had
beautiful white limestone from Caen which was perfect for
making very fine carvings.
England had coarse limestone, red sandstone and dark
green Purbeck marble which was often used for architectural
decorations like thin columns.
In Italy, limestone was used for city walls and castles, but
brick was used for other buildings. Because Italy had lots of
beautiful marble in many different colours, many buildings
have fronts or "facades" decorated in coloured marble.
Some churches have very rough brick facades because the
marble was never put on. Florence Cathedral, for example,
did not get its marble facade until the 1800s.
In some parts of Europe, there were many tall straight trees
that were good for making very large roofs. But in England,
by the 1400s, the long straight trees were running out. Many
of the trees were used for building ships. The architects had
to think of a new way to make a wide roof from short pieces
of timber. That is how they invented the hammer-beam roofs
which are one of the beautiful features seen in many old
English churches.

Hammer-beam roof: consists of a series of

trusses, repeated at intervals,
and its object is to transmit the weight and
thrust of the roof as low as possible in the
supporting wall

Regional variations -British

The thing that makes English cathedrals different from

the others is that they are long, and look horizontal
English cathedrals nearly all took hundreds of years to
build, and every part is in a style that is quite different
to the next part. (Only Salisbury Cathedral was not built in lots of styles.)
The West window is very large and is never a rose
The west front may have two towers like a French
Cathedral, or none.
There is nearly always a tower at the middle of the
building, which may have a big spire.
The distinctive English east end is square, but it may
take a completely different form. Both internally and
externally, the stonework is often richly decorated with
carvings, particularly the capitals.

Regional variations -Italy

The plan is usually regular and symmetrical.
With the exception of Milan Cathedral which is
Germanic in style, Italian cathedrals have few
and widely spaced columns.
The proportions are generally mathematically
simple, based on the square, and except in
Venice where they loved flamboyant arches, the
arches are almost always equilateral.
Colours and moldings define the architectural
units rather than blending them. Italian
cathedral faades are often polychrome and may
include mosaics in the lunettes over the doors.

Italian Gothic cathedrals use lots of colour, both outside
and inside.
On the outside, the facade is often decorated with
On the inside, the walls are often painted plaster.
The columns and arches are often decorated with
bright coloured paint.
There are also mosaics with gold backgrounds and
beautifully tiled floors is geometric patterns.
The facades often have an open porch with a wheel
windows above it.
There is often a dome at the centre of the building.
The bell tower is hardly ever attached to the building,
because Italy has quite a few earthquakes.
The windows are not as large as in northern Europe
and, although stained glass windows are often found,
the favorite way of decorating the churches is fresco
(wall painting).

Regional variations -Italy

The faades have projecting open porches and occular or wheel

windows rather than roses, and do not usually have a tower.
The crossing is usually surmounted by a dome. There is often a
free-standing tower and baptistry.
The eastern end usually has an apse of comparatively low
projection. The windows are not as large as in northern Europe
and, although stained glass windows are often found, the
favourite narrative medium for the interior is the fresco.
The distinctive characteristic of Italian Gothic is the use of
polychrome decoration, both externally as marble veneer on the
brick faade and also internally where the arches are often made
of alternating black and white segments, and where the columns
may be painted red, the walls decorated with frescoes and the
apse with mosaic.

Revision - Examples to

Notre Dame, Paris

Westminster Abbey
Hampton Court Palace, London
Doges Palace, Venice
Milan Cathedral.