Gothic V. Romanesque Architecture

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Kathryn Ryan
Cloisters Paper

Medieval Art is characterized largely by the use of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture. As Christianity was highly significant to the middle ages, much of said architectural design is exemplified in the cathedrals of the time. Romanesque and Gothic architecture differ greatly from one another, as is displayed in a comparison of a Gothic chapel and a Romanesque chapel. The Cloisters Museum and Gardens: the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to medieval art, offers the opportunity for such a close comparison. A comparison of the Fuetidueña Chapel and the Gothic Chapel conveys the distinctions between the two architectural styles. Thick, fortress-like walls, small, high windows, round arches, and barrel or dome vaulted ceiling, characterize Medieval Romanesque architecture. Because of the great outward pressure produced by the Romanesque rounded arch characteristic of the style, churches could not be made tall without adding buttresses to the weak walls. Said buttresses reinforced the walls, but made them very thick, creating a fortress-like feel to the church. Furthermore, because of such thick walls, windows could not be placed at these locations in the church, and therefore the windows in Romanesque cathedrals are located toward the ceiling. There are usually few, small, high windows in Romanesque churches. Moreover, the semi-circular barrel vault, as well as the dome vault, of the ceiling characterizes Romanesque architecture. The Cloisters’ Fuetidueña Chapel exemplifies the features of a true Romanesque chapel. The Fuetidueña Chapel is one of the first galleries on display in The Cloisters museum. The chapel displays the 12th century apse of St. Martin at Fuetidueña, Spain. The apse is covered by a barrel vault and half-dome, with three small windows piercing the back wall. The apse of the Fuetidueña Chapel exemplifies Romanesque architecture through the use of the rounded arch, semi-circular...
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