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Gothic and Romanesque Cathedrals

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The Romanesque style transformed into the Gothic style during the Middle Ages. This happened for many reasons. The Romanesque period was a time of trial and error while the Gothic period was a time of advancements in inventions. Religion was an important factor in the shift between Romanesque and Gothic. The locations of the two types of cathedrals also contributed toward the change between Romanesque and Gothic, as well as the power of the relics and the community to raise funds for the Gothic cathedrals. There are several reasons the architecture of the cathedral changed from Romanesque to Gothic in the Middle Ages. The Romanesque period lasted from 1000 to 1200 AD. Today's France was the center of Romanesque architecture and the birthplace of one of the most beutiful features of medieval architecture, the ambulatory with radiating chapels. "Romanesque is the name we give to christian architecture in Western Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to about the close of the twelfth century.

Prevalent from the 9th through 12th centuries CE, Romanesque architecture combined the influences of Roman and Byzantine styles. The style was named, in the 1800s, because one of its key features, the barrel vault, resembled the classical Roman arch. The use of barrel vaults allowed for huge interior spaces built entirely of stone. But that also meant the roofs were extremely heavy, so the walls had to be tremendously thick to prevent buckling. Strong walls also meant fewer windows, so the insides of Romanesque churches often look dim and feel like fortresses.
Gothic architecture began in the mid-12th century with the intention of making churches look like heaven: soaring, colorful, and bright. The biggest difference from the preceeding Romanesque style was the use of flying buttresses. These support structures or towers, set off from the main walls and attached by arches, and displaced the pressure from the roof outward. Essentially, this meant the buildings could get taller, walls could get thinner, and there could be a lot of windows, which were often stained glass. Gothic churches have huge, ornate, petaled round windows called rose windows. They also are much pointier than their Romanesque predecessors, with pointed arches and tall spires (instead of blunt towers) characterizing the style.

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