Appreciating A Gothic Cathedral: Milan Cathedral

2007 words - 8 pages

All over the world people still come to admire the beauty of European cathedrals. Many of the cathedrals are fragile due to age, neglect, pollution, and insufficient funds available to restore these historical and beautiful buildings. Nevertheless, visitors to these architectural masterpieces are fascinated by the design and structure of these churches. The cathedral builders using their own ingenuity, expertise, and limited resources were able to defy the laws of gravity and time. (Icher 30)
There were two main types of architecture during the middle ages, the Romanesque style and the Gothic style. The Romanesque period took place approximately between 1096 and 1270 (the eleventh and twelfth centuries) and the Gothic period took place approximately between 1150 and 1450 (the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries) (Bersson 383). Evidence of both styles of architecture emerged throughout Europe. The political landscape had changed and the Christian church provided a measure of unity throughout the centuries of this medieval era (Stalley 13).
The Romanesque period began a time when the interest in religion intensified. The church was a place that all people could belong to regardless of their status. It was during these times that big churches called cathedrals began to emerge. The age of the Crusades took place emphasizing the need for places of worship and a place for the community to gather together. People sought the churches not only to see the relics housed in the church brought back from the Holy Lands by the Crusades but also to seek redemption as well. This influx of seekers brought in money to help then pay for the churches. This allowed for the emergence of new towns, the exchange of goods and services, which eventually had an overall effect on the culture and society. The public began to take on a less restrained viewpoint of art. A new spirit of individualism along with humanistic and secular values became more acceptable. The Gothic style began to blossom overlapping with the final days of the Romanesque period. (Bersson 381-383)
The Gothic style arose with the leaders of the church again becoming the principal architects of the design and content of the cathedral (Bersson 383). Even though numerous Romanesque churches were still under construction all over Europe, Gothic architecture began to develop in France (Wilson 24). New forms were not necessary introduced by the first Gothic architects, yet changes in style and building technique did start to change (Wilson 24). One of the prominent influences of that change was Abbot Suger, who renovated the abbey of Saint Denis in France (Bersson 383). The symbolic architecture seemed to be a requirement of these large churches or cathedrals. Saint Denis was a royal abbey; therefore, a symbol of royal power (Halsall). Sugar knew this but the motivation was not political or architectural but religious (Halsall). The intended purpose was to honor God (Halsall). There was no expense...

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