Romanesque and Gothic Styles: Comparison Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1359 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Architecture

As this paper will discuss below, many of the elements of the Romanesque style, including the arches and vaults, were taken over by the Gothic style and successfully adapted to the new architectural requirements. Pevsner (1964) argues that many of the elements from Gothic architecture had already been present and Gothic architecture develops them in more complex ways.

At the same time, as Banister (2001) shows the main characteristic of the Gothic style is the pointed arch, which is also the fundamental differential element between the Gothic and the Romanesque styles. The advantage of the pointed arch, as developed by the Gothic style, was that it allowed the translation from the Romanesque construction approach (heavy, solid walls and small openings) to the Gothic approach (larger openings, including large windows; a greater focus on light).

The pointed arch, along with the other traditional Gothic elements (buttresses, vaults etc.), also allowed the vertical development of buildings, particularly of churches: Gothic churches are significantly taller, and this is because the style developed all the necessary instruments to support this new type of more complicated construction. As Banister shows, the pointed arch splits the weight of the construction onto the columns and it does so at a steep angle. This type of weight distribution allows, as mentioned, a much taller construction than during the Romanesque period.

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The height of the construction is, as such, one of the essential characteristics of Gothic architecture. The Cathedral of Munster has a spire that stands at 160 meters, the tallest in the world. The internal vault of the Cathedral of Beauvais has 48 meters height, also the highest in the world. These are just two of the examples that emphasize the importance of height in Gothic architecture.

Research Paper on Romanesque and Gothic Styles: Comparison Assignment

There are several ways in which this emphasis on height is undertaken, both internally and externally. The paper has already discussed the pointed arch, but there are a series of external decorations employed. These include spires, towers (of different sizes) and pinnacles (Swaan, 1988). The shapes themselves are often pointed, to create an additional impression of space and height.

Light is another important element of Gothic architecture. As previously discussed, the new technological developments (both the pointed arches and vaults and the flying buttresses, which support the construction from the exterior) created the premises for larger windows and the Gothic style made full use of that. The windows now become a particular element of focus, many of these Gothic windows being richly decorated with stained glass. All of these elements (light, height, rich decorations) transform the church into a symbol of the glory of God.

As a conclusion, there are at least two fundamental things to point out. First of all, the Romanesque and Gothic styles are closely related, with the latter being a logical development of the former. The Gothic style takes over many of the Romanesque elements, further developing them to fit the new architectural paradigm, based on height and light. The transformation is from horizontal to vertical: the Gothic style opposes a vertical structure to a Romanesque structure that is more horizontal, with solid supporting walls and columns.

The second element worth mentioning is that the Gothic style abounds in ornamentations and exterior and interior decorations, ranging from stained glass to pinnacles and towers. The likely explanation for this is that, even more than in the case of Romanesque churches, the Gothic churches aims to be a full representation of the glory of God. With that in mind, decorations are obviously essential in reaching the declared objective of making this as plausible as possible. The Gothic constructors go to all length to include as many ornaments as possible in their churches.


1. Rolf Toman, Romanesque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Konemann, (1997)

2. Banister Fletcher, A History of Architecture on the Comparative method (2001). Elsevier Science & Technology.

3. Helen Gardner; Fred S. Kleiner, Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner's Art through the Ages. Thomson Wadsworth, (2004)

4. Pevsner,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Romanesque and Gothic Styles: Comparison" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Romanesque and Gothic Styles: Comparison.  (2014, July 29).  Retrieved May 31, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Romanesque and Gothic Styles: Comparison."  29 July 2014.  Web.  31 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Romanesque and Gothic Styles: Comparison."  July 29, 2014.  Accessed May 31, 2020.