Sacred Sunday: 13th Century French and German Cathedral Architecture

Exterior view begun 1225 Photo Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Exterior view
begun 1225
Photo
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Saint Peter’s of Beauvais (Beauvais Cathedral) symbolizes the height of architectural endeavor in Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages. Ambitious and gravity-defying, the cathedral boasts the record for the highest ceiling in a Gothic choir in the Christendom (48.50m).

The cathedral also shows the ambition of the builders who were unable to complete it. Starting construction in 1225, the cathedral was meant to be the greatest church in the kingdom but over the centuries construction experienced many problems and structural collapses. What exists today – the choir and the transept – is impressive enough for us to dare to imagine what the finished project would have been.

The vault collapsed in 1284 and had to be rebuilt, supported by a dense cluster of flying buttresses.

Exterior view begun 1225 Photo Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Exterior view
begun 1225
Photo
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Interior view begun 1225 Photo Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Interior view
begun 1225
Photo
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Exterior view after 1254 Photo Cathedral, Reims

Exterior view
after 1254
Photo
Cathedral, Reims

Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths.

With its Radiant Gothic façade of unequaled dimensions, its interior characterized by soaring vertical heights, the richness of its sculpture and the technical quality of its construction, the Cathedral of Reims remains one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic art.

Unusually the names of the cathedral’s original architects are known. A labyrinth built into floor of the nave at the time of construction or shortly after included the names of four master masons (Jean d’Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims and Bernard de Soissons).

The picture shows the west façade of the cathedral. here everything is subordinated to aesthetic unity and upward movement, including window tracery and sculpture. Work on the west façade took place in several phases, which is reflected in the very different styles of some of the sculptures. The upper parts of the façade were completed in the 14th century, but apparently following 13th century designs, giving Reims an unusual unity of style.

Interior view after 1254 Photo Cathedral, Reims

Interior view
after 1254
Photo
Cathedral, Reims

Interior view after 1254 Photo Cathedral, Reims

Interior view
after 1254
Photo
Cathedral, Reims

Exterior view c. 1230 Photo Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

Exterior view
c. 1230
Photo
Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

The Cathedral of Laon (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Laon), in the Picardy region of France, dates from the 12th century. Laon Cathedral is known for its imposing towers, its beautiful Gothic architecture, and its importance as a major stop on the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago in Spain.

Construction on the Cathedral began around 1160, on the site of an ancient basilica that had burned down in 1111 during an insurrection. The new cathedral was completed in 1230. The second half of the 13th century saw the start of work on the side chapels. Considerable reconstruction was done in the early 14th century on the south and north façades.

The picture shows the west front of the Cathedral which retains a certain Romanesque solidity and depth.

Interior view c. 1230 Photo Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

Interior view
c. 1230
Photo
Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

The picture shows the nave in four tiers, with clerestories, triforium and tribune under sexpartite vaulting.

Lavatorium 13th century Photo Monastery, Maulbronn

Lavatorium
13th century
Photo
Monastery, Maulbronn

Maulbronn Monastery in Baden-Württemberg is the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. The monastery was founded in 1147 under the auspices of the first Cistercian pope, Eugenius III. The main church, built in a style transitional from Romanesque to Gothic, was consecrated in 1178 by Arnold, Bishop of Speyer. A number of other buildings – infirmary, refectory, cellar, auditorium, porch, south cloister, hall, another refectory, forge, inn, cooperage, mill, and chapel – followed in the course of the 13th century.

Outside the refectory stood the ‘lavatorium’ or washing place, a fountain.

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Sacred Sunday: 13th Century Italian Cathedral Architecture

Exterior view of the Cathedral 1270s (completed) Photo Duomo, Siena

Exterior view of the Cathedral
1270s (completed)
Photo
Duomo, Siena

The present cathedral replaced two earlier ones, one dating from the 9th or 10th century and a second that was consecrated in 1179. It was built during the first half of the 13th century and completed, with the exception of the façade, in the early 1270s in the early 1270s.

The cathedral is built with two colors of marble, white from Carrara and very dark green from Prato. The elaborate striping of much of the exterior and interior reveals the communal content of this monument in its reference to the black-and-white coat of arms of the Sienese commune.

The lower half of the façade was designed by Giovanni Pisano. The bell tower dates from before 1215 and is the only surviving part of the earlier Cathedral dedicated in 1179.

Interior view of the Cathedral 1270s (completed) Photo Duomo, Siena

Interior view of the Cathedral
1270s (completed)
Photo
Duomo, Siena

The interior shown in the picture was built during the first half of the 13th century and completed in the early 1270s.

Palazzo Pubblico Begun 1298 Photo Piazza del Campo, Siena

Palazzo Pubblico
Begun 1298
Photo
Piazza del Campo, Siena

Unlike the brute stony strength of Florence’s Palazzo della Signoria, in Siena brick walls gently bend to embrace the amphitheatre-shaped Piazza del Campo which it faces. Thin marble columns supporting Gothic arches decorate the windows.

An astonishingly tall bell tower – clearly surpassing the height of the civic tower of their rival city Florence – extends from the left wing of the building. A later chapel beneath the tower extends out into the public square and indicates the fusion of Church and state in this city dedicated to the Virgin.

Exterior view of the Cathedral 1270s (completed) Photo Duomo, Siena

Exterior view of the Cathedral
1270s (completed)
Photo
Duomo, Siena

View of the nave and choir began c. 1246 Photo Santa Maria Novella, Florence

View of the nave and choir
began c. 1246
Photo
Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The very large church of the Santa Maria Novella was the first important and independent church in truly Italian style. Its construction began in about 1246 for the Dominican Order. The exact dates of the various parts of the church are still controversial but it certainly took a very long time to build it. The nave was not begun until 1279, and the façade, began in 1310, was not finished until 1470. Nevertheless, the interior and the plan make it the most important church of its date.

This church is perhaps the best example of the simplicity of plan, organization, and detail that characterizes Italian Gothic architecture. The relatively high side aisles are typically Italian.

The Renaissance façade was designed by Leon Battista Alberti in the 1460s.

Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello: Façade 13th century Photo Campo dei Mori, Venice

Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello: Façade
13th century
Photo
Campo dei Mori, Venice

This palace in the Cannaregio district of Venice owes its name to a relief carving set into the wall of the façade representing a man in oriental dress riding a camel. It is the symbol of the owners, the Mastelli family, who came from the Orient in the 12th century.

The most important features on the façade of the Gothic building are the ogival central gallery on the second floor, enriched with quatrefoils and a dentate frame, the corner two-lancet windows on the second floor, and a squat column, standing in the corner window on the first floor.

The palace was rebuilt in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello: Façade 13th century Photo Campo dei Mori, Venice

Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello: Façade
13th century
Photo
Campo dei Mori, Venice

Palazzo Corner Loredan Piscopia: Façade 13th century Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Corner Loredan Piscopia: Façade
13th century
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace located on the Canal Grande just after Rialto bridge is now the site of the Municipio di Venezia. While representing a modification of the sixteenth-century building, it still followed the pattern of the Venetian-Byzantine house-storehouse.

Architectural and decorative elements, such as the five-arch loggia directly over the water, and, on the main floor, the façade completely covered by the many-lancet window with round arches on pilasters mean that the architecture is undoubtedly inspired by the thirteenth-century model.

Palazzo Morosini Sagredo: Façade 13th century Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Morosini Sagredo: Façade
13th century
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries. The four-lancet window on the upper floor is remarkable, framed by an elaborate frieze and adorned with polychrome patera made in precious marbles. The façade was decorated with frescoes. The interior was modernized in the 18th century and richly decorated.

Entrance to the castle 1240 Photo Castel del Monte, Andria

Entrance to the castle
1240
Photo
Castel del Monte, Andria

Castel del Monte (Italian for “Castle of the Mountain”) is a 13th-century citadel and castle situated in Andria in the Apulia region of southeast Italy. It stands on a promontory, where it was constructed during the 1240s by the Emperor Frederick II, who had inherited the lands from his mother Constance of Sicily.

The picture shows the classical entrance in the otherwise purely Gothic castle of Frederick II.

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Sacred Sunday: 13th Century English Cathedrals

Lincoln Cathedral (in full The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln, or sometimes St. Mary’s Cathedral)

Exterior view 1220-40 Photo Cathedral, Lincoln Lincoln Cathedral is a historic cathedral located in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. Building commenced in 1088 and continued in several phases throughout the medieval period. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 238 years (1311–1549).

Exterior view
1220-40
Photo
Cathedral, Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral is a historic cathedral located in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. Building commenced in 1088 and continued in several phases throughout the medieval period. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 238 years (1311–1549).

Exterior view 1220-40 Photo Cathedral, Lincoln

Exterior view
1220-40
Photo
Cathedral, Lincoln

Exterior view 1220-40 Photo Cathedral, Lincoln The picture shows Lincoln Cathedral as seen from the Castle Hill in Lincoln.

Exterior view
1220-40
Photo
Cathedral, Lincoln
The picture shows Lincoln Cathedral as seen from the Castle Hill in Lincoln.

Interior view 1220-40 Photo Cathedral, Lincoln The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt. The picture shows the nave of the Cathedral. English Gothic architects consistently favoured greater complexity. At Lincoln seven vault-ribs spring from one point instead of three, as was normal in France.

Interior view
1220-40
Photo
Cathedral, Lincoln
The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt.
The picture shows the nave of the Cathedral. English Gothic architects consistently favored greater complexity. At Lincoln seven vault-ribs spring from one point instead of three, as was normal in France.

Interior view 1220-40 Photo Cathedral, Lincoln The picture shows the nave of the Cathedral. English Gothic architects consistently favored greater complexity.

Interior view
1220-40
Photo
Cathedral, Lincoln
The picture shows the nave of the Cathedral. English Gothic architects consistently favored greater complexity.

Salisbury Cathedral

Exterior view begun 1220 Photo Cathedral, Salisbury The foundation stones of the cathedral were laid on 28th April 1220. The first part to be completed was the three eastern chapels named for St Stephen, Trinity, and St Peter. The main body of the cathedral was finished by the consecration on 29 September 1258. But the whole project also included the west front, the cloisters, the chapter house, and the (now demolished) detached bell tower. All of these were probably completed by 1266. The cathedral has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom (123m). The plan of Salisbury Cathedral is characteristically expansive, in contrast to the compact outline of a French Gothic cathedral.

Exterior view
begun 1220
Photo
Cathedral, Salisbury
The foundation stones of the cathedral were laid on 28th April 1220. The first part to be completed was the three eastern chapels named for St Stephen, Trinity, and St Peter. The main body of the cathedral was finished by the consecration on 29 September 1258. But the whole project also included the west front, the cloisters, the chapter house, and the (now demolished) detached bell tower. All of these were probably completed by 1266. The cathedral has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom (123m).
The plan of Salisbury Cathedral is characteristically expansive, in contrast to the compact outline of a French Gothic cathedral.

Exterior view begun 1220 Photo Cathedral, Salisbury

Exterior view
begun 1220
Photo
Cathedral, Salisbury

Exterior view begun 1220 Photo Cathedral, Salisbury The picture shows the nave of Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire, England, looking east from the font.

Exterior view
begun 1220
Photo
Cathedral, Salisbury
The picture shows the nave of Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire, England, looking east from the font.

Wells Cathedral

Exterior view begun c. 1230 Photo Cathedral, Wells The architecture of the cathedral presents a harmonious whole which is entirely Gothic and mostly in a single style, the Early English Gothic of the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The picture shows the west front (30m high, 45m wide) of the Wells Cathedral. It is wider than the nave behind it, it is a screen for sculpture, and the single entrance portal is quite insignificant. The exterior has an Early English façade displaying more than three hundred sculpted figures. Originally all these façades would have been brightly colored, the figures painted naturalistically and the background in vivid reds and blues.

Exterior view
begun c. 1230
Photo
Cathedral, Wells
The architecture of the cathedral presents a harmonious whole which is entirely Gothic and mostly in a single style, the Early English Gothic of the late 12th and early 13th centuries.
The picture shows the west front (30m high, 45m wide) of the Wells Cathedral. It is wider than the nave behind it, it is a screen for sculpture, and the single entrance portal is quite insignificant. The exterior has an Early English façade displaying more than three hundred sculpted figures. Originally all these façades would have been brightly colored, the figures painted naturalistically and the background in vivid reds and blues.

Exterior view begun c. 1230 Photo Cathedral, Wells

Exterior view
begun c. 1230
Photo
Cathedral, Wells

Interior view begun c. 1230 Photo Cathedral, Wells The architecture of the cathedral presents a harmonious whole which is entirely Gothic and mostly in a single style, the Early English Gothic of the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The picture shows the Gothic nave looking east, with the famous scissor arches added in 1338.

Interior view
begun c. 1230
Photo
Cathedral, Wells
The architecture of the cathedral presents a harmonious whole which is entirely Gothic and mostly in a single style, the Early English Gothic of the late 12th and early 13th centuries.
The picture shows the Gothic nave looking east, with the famous scissor arches added in 1338.

Exeter Cathedral

Exterior view c. 1310 Photo Cathedral, Exeter The present building was complete by about 1400, and has several notable features, including an early set of misericords, an astronomical clock and the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England.

Exterior view
c. 1310
Photo
Cathedral, Exeter
The present building was complete by about 1400, and has several notable features, including an early set of misericords, an astronomical clock and the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England.

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