Gothic cathedrals use visuals and imagery to communicate a spiritual message. To summarize, stained glass windows and rose windows bathe the interiors of Gothic cathedrals with heavenly colored light, while rose windows narrate stories of the church for those who cannot read. Towers rise up into the heavens as reminders that God is always above us helping us when we need it most. Chimes play melodies at specific times during prayer, worship, and meditation to remind us that God is always listening.
Gothic architecture began in Europe but spread to other parts of the world, including North America. This unique style can be seen in many churches across the globe. Although modern architects have created their own styles of architecture, they often include elements found in Gothic structures such as spires, pointed archways, and stained glass windows.
Christianity has had an important role in the development of Gothic architecture. The religion of love that teaches us to help others find happiness reminds us that we are all connected at our core. Gothic architecture communicates that we are never alone and has helped believers around the world feel less isolated.
Gothic architecture also reflects human nature. We are drawn to beauty and mystery. Without going too deep into psychology, medieval philosophers believed that beauty and truth were linked together. They also thought that humans needed something beyond logic to touch the heart.
As a result, the walls of a Gothic cathedral could be erected much taller (making the edifice even more spectacular), much thinner (creating more internal space), and with more windows (which led to brighter interiors and, where stained glass art was used, more Biblical art for the neophytes)...
All this was possible thanks to new techniques adopted from the Arab world which were then applied to European churches. For example, the pointed arch is based on an Arab design dating back to AD 634. The use of monoxyline and dihydroxyline stones came from Syria and Iraq respectively.
Also, Gothic architects began to use tracery in the window frames as early as the 12th century, although it became popular only later on (in the 14th century). Tracery is the name given to the intricate pattern of intersecting lines or circles found in many Gothic windows. It can be seen that traceried windows spread across Europe and become a characteristic feature of Gothic architecture.
Last but not least, Gothic architects started using pendentives instead of domes as roof decorations starting around 1220. A pendentive is a triangular panel supported by ribs or braces that extends outward from the central tower of a building. The word "pendent" means "hung down" in Latin; thus, a pendentive is a decorative element that looks like it is hanging from the ceiling.
The Gothic Cathedrals of the Middle Ages are among the most stunning ecclesiastical monuments that the Christian world has produced. As they physically aspire to reach heaven, their magnificent material beauty is a metaphor of the Christian faith. Their east-west direction represents man's progress toward God. The pointed arches and flying buttresses which support the heavy stone roofs were designed to be accessible by all Christians, not just the rich or noble.
The great Cathedrals were built during the 12th and 13th centuries in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. During this time there was no clear leader of Christianity, so many different styles of architecture developed across Europe. But several similarities can be seen in the design of these buildings: they used round-headed windows, high-arched entrances, and intricate stonework. These features became symbols of the Church for centuries to come.
In addition to their aesthetic beauty, the great Cathedrals served as important centers for religious learning. Scholars from around the world traveled to them to be taught by leading priests. Some even lived in the cathedrals when they were unable to find work elsewhere. This way future bishops could be trained and good priests kept available for local churches.
Finally, the great Cathedrals were the largest building projects ever undertaken before the development of modern engineering technologies. They required huge teams of workers with tools like sledgehammers, drills, and saws.
Because of the structural support given by the external flying buttresses, more opaque walls were replaced with windows, resulting in the bright interior that distinguished the Gothic style. The use of stained glass to depict story was another way that light was employed in the building of Gothic churches. Stained glass is glass painted or etched with images that sparkle when illuminated from within the church or chapel.
Gothic architecture was born in Europe, but it became popular all over the world. There are many Gothic buildings outside of Europe including North America. South America has many Gothic buildings as well. Asia also has some Gothic structures such as the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. There are even a few Gothic buildings in Africa such as the Cathedral of Christ the King in Nairobi, Kenya.
The name "Gothic" comes from the German word Gotheischutz, which means protection of God. This is because the pointed arch was originally designed to protect churchgoers from their own heavy wooden staves and shields. As time went on this reason for existence began to change though. Churches started to become more opulent and attendees began to be protected from the dark and dreary atmosphere of the church itself. Enter: the flying buttress. The flying buttress is an architectural feature used primarily in Gothic churches to support the nave roof and provide lateral stability without using any iron rods.