While the Gothic style varies depending on location, age, and kind of structure, it is frequently distinguished by five major architectural elements: huge stained glass windows, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, flying buttresses, and rich ornamentation. These elements can be found in many medieval churches around the world.
Stained glass was extensively used in Gothic churches to great effect. The word "glass" comes from the French word glace, which means mirror. Glass has been used to create religious images for over 1,000 years but it was not until the 13th century that it became common for large areas of glass to be used in buildings. Before this time, small panes were used mainly for lighting features such as chandeliers or lanterns.
Pointed architecture is a feature commonly seen in Gothic churches and cathedrals. It involves the use of converging walls and ceilings to form sharp points. This design element creates a feeling of spaciousness in smaller rooms and allows for more light to enter them during daytime hours. It also prevents congregants from accidentally stumbling over furniture during services.
Arches are another important aspect of Gothic architecture. They are used instead of wooden beams because they are lighter and do not rot like wood does. Arches are created by connecting stone frames with curved ends. There are two main types of arches used in Gothic structures: semicircular and pointed.
Gothic architecture is as diverse as it is formidable, ranging from medieval castles to Victorian houses. Vaulted ceilings, arched windows, and decorative embellishments like flying buttresses and the odd leering gargoyle are hallmarks of this dramatic design. The Gothic Revival style was popular in America from about 1820 to 1880.
During this time period, many American homes were built with inspiration from England's medieval cathedrals. These new homes often included Gothic features such as pointed archways, stained-glass windows, carved woodwork, and towering chimneys. Sometimes these features were used as a form of decoration or as an attempt to be more energy efficient. Energy efficiency was particularly important since most cities were growing rapidly at this time and there weren't enough people living within the city limits to use all the available housing stock.
Another important factor contributing to the popularity of the Gothic Revival style was its cost effectiveness. Homes designed using this style could be built quickly and easily without expensive industrial machinery. This made Gothic Revival houses affordable to more people than other styles that were being developed at the time. For example, Philadelphia had an ordinance banning the construction of expensive luxury houses until 1795 when the price of iron beams became affordable for average homeowners. In contrast, houses built according to the Georgian style required large amounts of brick or stone which made them too expensive for most people.
Gothic architecture (or pointed architecture) was a popular architectural style in Europe from the late 12th century through the 16th century, spanning the High and Late Middle Ages, with some examples surviving into the 17th and 18th centuries. Buildings in this style are often named for their appearance, such as Gothic houses or castles. However, the term Gothic has also been used to describe other styles of architecture that were developed after it became obsolete.
In its most general sense, "gothic" can be used to describe any structure with pointed arches. But the word came to have another, more specific meaning during the Renaissance period, when new styles of building arose across Europe.
The Gothic style was introduced to France by the English who built many large churches in this style, including the French Gothic version of Winchester Cathedral. The Gothic style also spread to Germany, where it was known as Germanic architecture. In Italy, it evolved into Renaissance architecture. But the influence of the Gothic style could still be seen in European buildings constructed several decades after its demise in the early 17th century, such as the Prague Castle and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Over time, "gothic" came to mean anything strange or unusual. So a "gothic" hotel is one that is very different from what would be expected in today's world.
Medieval architecture included styles such as Romanesque, French, and Gothic architecture. Gothic style medieval architecture include stained-glass windows, flying buttresses, lofty spires, gargoyles, turrets, and pointed arches rather than round arches. This style became popular in the 13th century in Europe. It was used for churches, but also for government buildings, universities, and even homes.
Gothic style houses usually have high ceilings, large windows, and open floor plans. They tend to be square or rectangular with symmetrical designs. The front door is usually the only entrance, located on the side of the house closest to the street. Windows are often tall and narrow with leaded glass or wooden shutters. The roofs are typically hipped with finials or towers.
Most medieval castles were built using the same basic design elements today: an outer wall that protects the courtyard, an inner wall within the enclosure, an administrative center, a defense tower, and a gatehouse. The outer walls may be made of stone, brick, wood, or a combination thereof. They usually have multiple levels with large openings between them. The higher the wall, the better its protection against attack. Inside the outer wall is an inner court. This is where the administration offices were held along with any storage facilities. A second wall within this court confines the protected area. This is called the berm.
What were the fundamental features of Gothic architecture? Stone constructions, wide expanses of glass, clustered columns, sharply pointed spires, complex sculptures, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses may all be found. The ogival, or pointed arch, is one of its most distinguishing features. The word "Gothic" comes from a German term for "Germania," the ancient name for Germany. Thus, Gothic architecture is traditional German architecture adapted to Christian uses.
In terms of church design, the Gothic style was characterized by an increase in size over earlier Romanesque structures, with more elaborate decoration. The nave, or central space for worship, became longer and narrower while the aisles, which had been part of early Roman buildings, remained the same width throughout. Windows took the form of large openings with stained glass panels, often in modern designs. Colorful statues were placed on high altars, where they could be seen by everyone attending Mass. Frescoes painted directly onto the wall surface decorated chapels and churches. Gold leaf was used to decorate woodwork and other objects. As wealth increased, so did the number of richly decorated churches.
The original builders of many Gothic churches were the monks of European monasteries. But laypeople, too, had their own parish churches built in the style, usually in connection with their local bishop.