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Medieval architecture

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Religious Archetecture The Latin Cross plan is modeled after the Roman Bastilica[?], it consists of a nave and two sections half its size flanking it, and the alter is at the far end (the small end of the cross). Also, cathedrals influenced or commissioned by Justinian employed the Byzantine style of domes and a Greek Cross (resembling a plus sign), centering attention on the alter at the center of the church.


Before about the 12th century, cathedrals were built in the Romanesque style. This style put a lot of stress on the walls, forcing them to be very thick and without windows. The time of these churches truly could be called the Dark Ages. The openings were rounded arches, a Roman invention in archicture. There was very little adornment to Romanesque buildings.

Some Romanesque Cathedrals

St. Marks[?]
Santiago de Compostela
St. Etienne[?]


In the 12th century, though, Abbot Sugar (shoo-gare) came up with the flying butress which was a great innovation in supporting buildings. These beams came out and down from the building, resting much of the weight on the ground outside. The walls could then be thinner and even have windows. The windows they installed were beautiful stained glass, showing stories from the bible and from lives of saints. Another trademark of the Gothic style is the pointed arch. These new elements of design allowed Cathedrals to be built taller than ever, and it became something of a contest to built a church as high as possible.

Some Gothic Cathedrals

St. Denis[?]
Notre Dame this was actually begun as Romanesque, but completed as Gothic
Cathedral of Seville[?]

Also built in the Gothic style was Westminster Abbey

Secular Architecture Medieval secular architecture was mainly built for defense. Castles and fortified walls are the most notable non religious buildings that remain. Windows were made as cross shaped for more than decorative purposes, they were a perfect fit for a crossbow to safely shoot at invaders from inside. Crenelated walls (battlements) were employed for archers on the roofs to hide behind while they weren't shooting.

Castles and Other Secular Examples

The White Tower[?]
Rochester Castle[?]
Palazzo Veccio[?]

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