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What is the role of towers in Romanesque architecture?

What is the role of towers in Romanesque architecture?



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I'm currently reading some books about romanesque architecture. I would like to know the roles of towers that many religious buildings have. I have some guesses, so I would like you to tell me if these guesses are true or wrong.

First example : St. Pierre Cathedrale (Treves)

We can see small rounded towers. My guess, everytime, that kind of tower is used for stairs, eventually to defend the building at some point.

The squared towers, my guess, are present as a symbol of the gate of the celestial Jerusalem, but for what else are they used ? My personal experience pushes me to say: for bells, but bells don't occupy the whole tower.

Also, I'm curious if the ground section of a tower is linked to its height.

Another example : St. Michel (Hildesheim)

As we can see, there are only crossing towers and small rounded towers. I guess, the squared towers are used for bells too.

the part in italics contains mistake, see the comments

To finish, it seems (maybe I'm wrong on that point) that temples used before Christianity, Romans/Greeks (pagan) had twin towers (like the one we can see on the picture of St. Pierre). So I would like to know if the celestial representation of Jerusalem has its origin in Roman/Greek temples (pagan).


You say, "My personal experience push me to say : for bells, but bells don't occupy the whole tower."

They do not have to occupy the whole tower, but for maximum effect, they have to be hung quite high - which means that you need the rest of the tower to give height to the bell chamber and - at least in the English tradition - to give enough space for efficient work on a bellrope.

So the question might be - "What other uses did people make of the towers which they needed for bells?"

Seriously, however, I suspect the most important factor is an artistic/cultural one. Most churches from the Romanesque period onward were designed not just to be a place for communal worship. They were statements about the wealth and power of the community which built them, or the local magnate who paid for them or even about the beauty which could be produced by the work and dedication of the builders (e.g. at Chartres).

The model for ostentation was the defensive structure of the castle or the great house. These usually had towers for military reasons, but that establishes towers as a part of the "building to impress" vocabulary. As you have pointed out impressive gates at the entrance to a city are not new - cities have been guarding their entrances with fortified structures with good vantage points for almost as long as there have been cities.

So what more natural, when you want "look at me" architecture, than a building which rises high above its surroundings and can be seen from miles away? It's worth it - when thinking about medieval architecture - to imagine any town and most cities as places where nearly all the available buildings were no more than 1 or 2 stories high and built of wood. Towers of stone, reaching up to God's Heaven were a powerful statement and a psychologically unsubtle reminder of the importance of that building and those who controlled it.


I read on wiki some old monasteries and cathedrals include conjuratories in their towers, small religious buildings from which ceremonies were conducted to bless the fields and ward off calamities caused by the weather. People believed in weather spells during the romanesque period.


Romanesque architecture It is an early architectural style characterised by thick walls and narrow windows.

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Romanesque architecture in England

The Norman invaders of England introduced their own style of building into their new island domain. Although elements of Romanesque style had been used in England before the Conquest (as in Edward the Confessor's Westminster Abbey), Norman Romanesque marked such a radical departure from the Anglo-Saxon traditions that it must be considered on its own.

Quick Facts

The Romanesque period in English architecture can be roughly dated to the years 1066-1180

The style is also known as "Norman"

The most obvious characteristic of the Norman Romanesque is its reliance on sheer bulk. Everything is larger, more solid, and carries with it an air of permanence very much at odds with earlier Saxon work. Cathedral and castle walls were as thick as 24 feet at the base.

Although the piers which carry the weight of Romanesque buildings may be rounded, polygonal, or compound, they utilize mass to do their job. In part, the very simple style of Norman Romanesque may be attributed to the fact that the builders had to utilize untrained Saxon labour labourers who had a tradition of building in wood, not stone.

Yet the mass of these early piers may be deceiving. Often the piers are simple brick or masonry shells, with a hollow interior filled with rubble. Essentially the Normans never used two stones when one would do.

Early Norman Romanesque builders used barrel vaulting almost exclusively. To visualize a barrel vault, imagine cutting a wooden barrel down the centre lengthwise. The simple rounded shape of the barrel vault helped distribute the weight of walls and roof. Unfortunately, the distance which could be spanned by barrel vaulting was not great.

Look For

Chevron pattern decorations

Doors recessed in three orders

Windows were kept small, in part for defensive purposes, and in part to avoid weakening the walls. Buttresses were extremely simple, little more than a thickening of the outer walls in places.

Decorative elements were few in the 11th century the most distinctive being the Norman chevron (zigzag) pattern, most frequently found on the recessed orders framing doors and windows. Other decoration also relies on simple geometric patterns. In the 12th century, you see more elaborate decoration appearing, such as four-pointed stars, lozenges, and scallop shapes.

These decorative elements were carved in shallow relief it is only as the 13th century nears that you see deeply cut carvings appear. Subject matter for carvings covered Biblical scenes, but also human, animal, and floral shapes. These carvings are most common on capitals.

The most definitive example of the Romanesque style in England may be seen at Durham Cathedral, where the Norman work is largely unaltered by later additions. At Durham also you can see the first attempts at ribbed vaulting which would later evolve into the full-blown Gothic style in the 13th century.

Major Romanesque buildings to visit in England:
Several major English cathedrals contain excellent examples of Romanesque architecture, though much is overshadowed by later Gothic work. Visit:
Canterbury Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Rochester Cathedral
Southwell Minster

Of non-ecclesiastical work, the best surviving example of Romanesque architecture is probably the White Tower at the Tower of London. This stone keep at the core of the complex of buildings we know as the Tower of London was begun in 1078. In particular, the Chapel of St. John in the Tower shows in superb simplicity the rounded Romanesque arch.

article © David Ross and Britain Express
Illustrations are based on those in the wonderful volume 'The Observer's Book of British Architecture', by John Penoyre & Michael Ryan, London, 1951


The Cathedral&rsquos central tower has had an eventful history. Like the western towers, it probably started off as a small structure, to be enlarged and heightened once the main body of the Cathedral had been completed.

The first enlargement took place in the late 13 th century, but the tower was struck by lightning and needed to be repaired in 1429.

Thirty years later, lightning struck again, requiring a completely new tower to be constructed between 1465 and 1474. Ten years later, a second storey was added giving us the tower that we have today. Structural evidence suggests that this second storey was an afterthought.


Contents

Founded in 1093 as a priory of Affligem Abbey (in modern Belgium) by the first Count Palatine of the Rhine Heinrich II von Laach and his wife Adelaide of Weimar-Orlamünde, widow of Hermann II of Lotharingia, Laach became an independent house in 1127, under its first abbot, Gilbert. Affligem itself had been founded by Hermann. Although the abbey was founded by a prominent (although perennially excommunicated) member of the imperial party (Investiture Controversy), Affligem became soon after a prominent member of the Cluniac reform movement.

The abbey developed as a centre of study during the 12th century. The 13th-century abbots Albert (1199–1217) and Theoderich II (1256–1295) added significantly to the buildings and architectural decoration, including the monumental tomb of the founder.

In common with most other German Benedictine houses, Laach declined during the 14th century in terms of its spiritual and monastic life, a tendency which was reversed only in the late 15th century, under the influence of the reforming Bursfelde Congregation, which the abbey joined, supported against a certain resistance within the abbey by Abbot Johannes V von Deidesheim (1469–1491).

The consequent improvement in discipline led to a fruitful literary period in the abbey's history, prominent in which were Jakob Siberti, Tilman of Bonn and Benedict of Munstereifel, but principally Prior Johannes Butzbach (d. 1526). Although much of his work, both published and unpublished, survives, his chronicle of the abbey is unfortunately lost.

Laach Abbey was dissolved in the secularisation of 1802. The premises became the property, first of the occupying French, and then in 1815 of the Prussian State.

In 1820 the buildings were acquired by the Society of Jesus, who established a place of study and scholarship here. Of particular note were Fathers Gerhard Schneemann, Theodor Granderath and Florian Reiss, who produced a number of important works: the "Collectio lacensis" ("Acta et decreta sacrorum conciliorum recentiorum", 7 volumes, Freiburg, 1870–1890) the "Philosophia lacensis", a collection of learned books on the different branches of philosophy (logic, cosmology, psychology, theodicy, natural law) and published at Freiburg, 1880–1900 and, perhaps best-known, the "Stimmen aus Maria-Laach" ("Voices from Maria Laach"), appearing from 1865, at first as individual pamphlets defending against liberalism within the Roman Catholic church, and from 1871 as a regular periodical. The Jesuits were obliged to leave during the "Kulturkampf" of the 1870s.

The Benedictines of the Beuronese Congregation moved into the monastery in 1892, and it was raised into an abbey the following year. The restoration of the church, at that time still the property of Prussia, was inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1897.

In the first half of the twentieth century Maria Laach played a leading role in the Liturgical Movement.

The abbey structure dates from between 1093 and 1177, with a paradisium added around 1225 and is considered a prime example of Romanesque architecture of the Staufen period. Despite its long construction time the well-preserved basilica with its six towers is considered to be one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in Germany.

Due to a considerable reduction of the lake level in the early 19th century, serious and unexpected structural damages to the church vaults and roofs were detected. Three important renovation campaigns took place - the first in the 1830s to repair the structural damages including the removal of the paradisium's upper storey (it had an upper storey at that time for accommodation facilities), the second in the 1880s including repairs after a serious fire in the southern round tower in 1885, and the third in the 1930s. Many former changes to the buildings carried out in Gothic (e.g. steep tower roofs) and Baroque style (e.g. wider windows) have been re-altered to Romanesque style.

The Maria Laach Abbey has been at the center of a controversy over its relations with the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. In particular, Heinrich Böll depicted (in Billiards at Half-past Nine) a Benedictine monastery whose monks actively and voluntarily collaborated with the Nazis, and is generally considered to have had Maria Laach in mind.

In 2004 researcher Marcel Albert published a work ( translated under the title "The Maria Laach Benedictine Abbey and National Socialism"). [1] In reviewing the book, Dr. Mark Edward Ruff of Saint Louis University wrote: [2]

The Benedictine abbey, Maria Laach, poses a number of interpretative challenges for historians writing on Roman Catholicism during the Third Reich. This influential monastery in the Eifel became known as a center for right-wing Catholicism already during the Weimar Republic. Its leaders enthusiastically greeted the Nazi seizure of power in 1933.

It was the only Benedictine monastery in the Rhineland not to be confiscated by the Nazi regime, even if part of the facility was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers. Yet at the same time, it provided a sanctuary for Konrad Adenauer in 1934, who had been unceremoniously removed from his position as mayor of Cologne. In addition, its leaders became the target of numerous Gestapo interrogations, even as rumors spread that the monastery was to be appropriated by the state .

Marcel Albert's book . relies heavily on the unpublished memoirs of Ildefons Herwegen, a conservative monarchist who served as abbot of Maria Laach until his death in 1946. At times self-serving, these memoirs provide the narrative thread for this book.

Albert quotes extensively from these, all the while commenting on the accuracy and reliability of Herwegen's account. He also makes extensive use of the archival holdings of the monastery itself, supplementing these with official state and police reports .

Maria Laach became a focal point in the Weimar Republic for those right-wing Catholics disillusioned by the collapse of the Hohenzollern monarchy and outraged at the Catholic Centre Party's coalitions with the Social Democrats (SPD). The monks, politicians, businessmen, theologians and students who gathered there were strongly influenced by the idea of a coming 'Reich', hoping to build a third Holy Roman Empire.

Such prominent conservatives as Emil Ritter, Carl Schmitt - later to gain notoriety as the "Crown Jurist of the Third Reich" [1] - and Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, renegade member of the British aristocracy, all participated in events sponsored by the monastery. . The Benedictines here attracted members of the Catholic aristocracy, those who were more receptive to the right-wing nationalist movements of the time.

Not surprisingly, both Herwegen and many others at Maria Laach embraced Hitler's regime and even chided other Catholics for failing to work with the new state. "Blood, soil and fate are the appropriate expressions for the fundamental powers of the time," Herwegen avowed. The rise of the Third Reich was part of the workings and designs of God. Hitler's promise to build Germany on a Christian foundation on March 21, 1933 led several monks to hang a picture of Hitler in the abbey and to unfurl the black white red flag of the bygone Kaiserreich.

As late as 1939, one of the members of the abbey, an artist who had converted to Catholicism, P. Theodor Bogler, published a "Briefe an einen jungen Soldaten," (Letters to a young soldier) in which he let loose a virulently anti-Jewish polemic.

This openness to National Socialism by many at Maria Laach did not go unnoticed by the Nazi press. Robert Ley's Westdeutsche Beobachter reported that "one knows that the spirititual-religious educational work of the Benedictines of Maria-Laach for years has increasingly viewed itself responsible for all of the duties to renew the national conscience."

Yet the Nazis did not always reciprocate the embrace of the monks. Instead, the Gestapo began to interrogate the monks, arresting one monk on charges of homosexuality. The printing of Alfred Rosenberg's "Myth of the 20th Century" (advocating Positive Christianity, which was actually based on pantheistic pagan nature worship and Teutonic Gods), as well as the political demotion of Franz von Papen, forced Herwegen already in 1934 to temper his hopes of exerting a Christian influence on the new state.

Although the monastery was not closed down, as were all other Benedictine abbeys in the area, its members had become a regular target of state attacks. Albert makes it clear, however, that it was only the Nazi persecution of the churches, and not the attacks on the Jews or Nazi military aggression, that forced Herwegen to see the regime in a new light.

Similarly, Herwegen housed Adenauer for almost a year in his abbey not necessarily because he agreed with the Center Party politician's Weltanschauung, but because Adenauer was a childhood friend from his days at school .

In its closing chapters, the book shows that the abbey cultivated a positive relationship to Adenauer and the CDU after 1945, but retained its monarchist beliefs. However, the post-war parts of the book are less extensive, and this part of the monastery's history seems [ to whom? ] to await further research.

Born Henri Ebel in 1896 as son of a wine-producing family from Alsace, and later a significant scholar of his times, Dr. Basilius Ebel became abbot of St. Matthias' Abbey in Trier in 1939 and provided a sanctuary to Jews whom he admitted among the monks. In 1941, his abbey was confiscated by the Gestapo and he himself was exiled to Maria Laach where he became abbot from 1946 to 1966. Under his leadership, Maria Laach became an important centre of reconciliation between Christians and Jews.

On the scholarly side, he should be remembered for publishing a 12th-century Alemannic hymnal [3] and for the restoration of the Maria Laach basilica to its original style.

The abbey church of Maria Laach is considered a masterpiece of German Romanesque architecture, [4] with its multiple towers, large westwork with arcaded gallery, and unique west porch.

The east end has a round apse flanked by twin square towers. Over the transept crossing is a broad cupola with cone-shaped roof. The monumental west façade includes a west choir with apse flanked by round twin towers and a square central tower.

The Paradise, a single-story, colonnaded west porch surrounding a small courtyard, was added in about 1225. It recalls the architecture of Early Christian basilicas. Its capitals are richly carved with human and mythical figures. The imaginative mason is known as the Laacher Samson-Meister or "Master of the Laach Samson", whose carvings are also found in Cologne and elsewhere. The Lion Fountain in the courtyard was added in 1928.

Notable features of the interior include the tomb of the founder Pfalzgraf Heinrich II (dating from 1270), 16th-century murals, a Late Romanesque baldachino in the apse, and interesting modern decorations such as mosaics from c. 1910 and stained glass windows from the 1950s.


Church of Sainte-Foy (c. 1050-1130)

This pilgrimage church, the center of a thriving monastery, exemplifies the Romanesque style. Two symmetrical towers frame the west façade, their stone walls supported by protruding piers that heighten the vertical effect. A rounded arch with a triangular tablature frames the portal, where a large tympanum of the Last Judgment of Christ is placed, thus greeting the pilgrim with an admonition and warning. The grandeur of the portal is heightened by the two round, blind arches on either side and by the upper level arch with its oculus above two windows. The façade conveys a feeling of strength and solidity, its power heightened by the simplicity of decorative elements. It should be noted that this apparent simplicity is the consequence of time, as originally the tympanum scene was richly painted and would have created a vivid effect drawing the eye toward the entrance. The interior of the church was similarly painted, the capitals of the interior columns carved with various Biblical symbols and scenes from Saint Foy's life, creating both an otherworldly effect and fulfilling a didactic purpose.

Saint Foy, or Saint Faith, was a girl from Aquitaine who was martyred around 287-303, and the church held a gold and jeweled reliquary, containing her remains. The monks from the Abbey stole the reliquary from a nearby abbey to ensure their church's place on the pilgrimage route. Over time, other relics were added, including the arm of St. George the Dragon Slayer, and a gold "A" believed to have been created for Charlemagne. The construction of the church was undertaken around 1050 to accommodate the crowds, drawn by reports of various miracles. The church was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 for its importance on the pilgrim route and also as a noted example of early Romanesque architecture.

A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry (11 th Century)

This scene from the famous tapestry shows Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, carrying an oak club while riding on a black horse, as he rallies the Norman forces of Duke William, his half-brother, against the English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Careful attention is given to the tack of the horses, the details of the men's helmets and uniforms, while the overlay of plunging horses, their curving haunches and legs, creates a momentum that carries the narrative onward into the next scene. In the lower border, a horse is falling, while its rider, pierced with a long spear collapses on the right. At both corners, other fallen soldiers are partially visible, and convey the terrible effects of battle, while the charge to victory gallops on above them. As art critic Jonathan Jones noted, "The Bayeux tapestry is not just a fascinating document of a decisive battle in British history. It is one of the richest, strangest, most immediate and unexpectedly subtle depictions of war that was ever created."

The tapestry, about 230 feet long and 21 inches tall, is a sustained narrative of the historical events that, beginning in 1064 lead up to the battle, which ended in the Norman conquest of England and the rule of William the Conqueror, as he came to be known. The upper and lower borders, each 2-¾ inches wide, shown in this sample, continue throughout the tapestry, as does the use of a Latin inscription identifying each scene. The images in the borders change, echoing the narrative, as during the battle the pairs of fantastical animals in the lower border is replaced by the images seen here of fallen soldiers and horses. Similarly when the invasion fleet sets sail, the borders disappear altogether to create the effect of the vast horizon. The borders also include occasional depictions of fables, such as "The Wolf and a Crane" in which a wolf that has a bone caught in its throat is saved by a crane that extracts it with its long beak, which may be a subversive or admonitory comment upon the contemporary events.

Though called a tapestry, the work is actually embroidered, employing ten different colors of dyed crewel, or wool yarn and is believed to have been made by English women, whose needlework, known as Opus Anglicanum, or English work, was esteemed throughout Europe by the elite. The Bayeux Tapestry was a unique work of the Romanesque period, as it depicted a secular, historical event, but also did so in the medium that allowed for an extended narrative that shaped both the British and French sense of national identity. As art historian Simon Schama wrote, "It's a fantastic example of the making of history." The work, held in France, was influential later in the development of tapestry workshops in Belgium and Northern France around 1500 and the Gobelin Tapestry of the Baroque era.

Duomo di Pisa (1063-1092)

The entrance to Pisa Cathedral, made of light-colored local stone, has three symmetrically arranged portals, the center portal being the largest, with four blind arcades echoing their effect. The round arches above the portal and the arcades create a unifying effect, as do the columns that frame each entrance. The building is an example of what has been called Pisa Romanesque, as it synthesizes elements of Lombard Romanesque, Byzantine, and Islamic architecture. Lombard bands of colored stone frame the columns and arches and extend horizontally. Above the doors, paintings depicting the Virgin Mary draw upon Byzantine art, and at the top of the seven round arches, diamond and circular shapes in geometric patterns of colored stone echo Islamic motifs. The upper levels of the building are symmetrically arranged in bands of blind arcades and innovatively employ small columns that convey an effect of refinement.

The name of two architects, Buscheto, and Rainaldo, were inscribed in the church, though little is known of them, except for this project. Buscheto was the initial designer of the square that, along with the Cathedral, included the famous leaning Tower of Pisa, done in the same Romanesque style, visible here in the background, and the Baptistery. Following his death, Rainaldo expanded the cathedral in the 1100's, of whom his inscription read, "Rainaldo, the skilful workman and master builder, executed this wonderful, costly work, and did so with amazing skill and ingenuity."

Dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the church was consecrated in 1118 by Pope Gelasius II. The church's construction was informed by the political and cultural era, as it was meant to rival St. Mark's Basilica then being reconstructed in Venice, a competing maritime city-state. The building was financed by the spoils of war, from Pisa's defeat of Muslim forces in Sicily, and it was built outside of the walls to show that the city had nothing to fear. The Pisa plaza became a symbol of the city itself, as shown by the famous Italian writer Gabriele D'Annunzio calling the square, "prato dei Miracoli," or "meadow of miracles" in 1910, so the plaza has been known since as the "Field of Miracles."


The interiors of Romanesque churches were usually covered with brightly-coloured sculptures, carvings, and paintings, depicting scenes from the Bible. Much of the population of Europe at the time was illiterate, and images were therefore a very useful way of conveying a religious message.

The move from wooden to stone buildings was also a characteristic of the period in which Romanesque architecture developed.

Building large churches in stone meant that the walls had to be extremely thick, and windows quite small (to prevent the building collapsing). With time and practise, less bulky construction techniques became possible. These, first seen in key Romanesque buildings such as Durham Cathedral, were refined with time, leading to the style that followed on from Romanesque: Gothic (13th-15th centuries).

A 12th century Norman tower in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, England, showing many of the typical features of Romanesque architecture: namely solid, massive construction with small round-arched windows. The interlocking arches and the carved geometric patterns were very popular forms of architectural ornamentation.


The Pisan Romanesque

Aerial view of the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa (Tuscany, Italy). It is recognized as one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. In first term is the Camposanto Monumentale, to the left upper corner is the Leaning Tower, right next to it is the Pisa Cathedral and to the center right is the Pisan Baptistry.

At the beginning of the eleventh century, Pisan architects developed a brand new style, a style that eventually led to the revival of the Italian art during the Renaissance. It is undeniable the great importance that Pisan art had over all the other artistic forms that were developing in Italy throughout the XIth century. During the peak of the Romanesque period, when other countries in Western Europe were totally focused in the construction of groin vaults, Pisan architects came up with the superb design of the marble cathedral of Pisa based solely on the purity of lines characteristic of the ancient classical architecture . In addition, these Pisan masters surrounded their cathedral with other beautiful monuments: the leaning tower of Pisa, the Pisa Baptistry (which also served as a concert hall), and the cloister or cemetery known as Camposanto Monumentale. These four neighboring buildings occupy the space of a large square now known as Piazza dei Miracoli (or Square of Miracles) in Pisa.

The Pisa Cathedral with the Leaning Tower to its right. This cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption). The facade of the Pisa Cathedral was built by master Rainaldo and is in grey marble and white stone with inlaid discs of colored marble.

The Pisa cathedral, the oldest and most important building of the Piazza dei Miracoli, was begun in 1060. This cathedral was built under the direction of master architect Buscheto, who apparently was of Greek origin. Buscheto seemed more influenced by ancient Roman architecture than by the Eastern-Byzantine building style and method. This large church, designed in the style of the ancient Roman basilicas, was completed after Buscheto’s death and finished by master architect Rainaldo. In general terms, the Pisa cathedral embodies an architectural unity comparable only to that of the classical temples.

Above the main doors of the Pisa cathedral are four rows of open galleries, here a detail of some of these galleries’ arcades at the facade of the cathedral. The interior of the Pisa Cathedral is covered with black and white marble and has a gilded ceiling and a dome decorated with a fresco. At the apse is the impressive mosaic of Christ in Majesty. The granite Corinthian columns between the nave and the aisles were taken from an ancient roman building. It is believed that inside this cathedral, Galileo formulated his theory about the movement of a pendulum by watching the swinging of the incense lamp that used to be hanging from the ceiling of the nave. This lamp is now kept in the Camposanto Monumentale, in the Aulla chapel.

Its floor plan is of a Latin cross with five naves, the central one covered with a wooden ceiling while the lateral naves are covered by groin vaults over the crossing rises an ellipsoidal dome. The columns between the naves have beautiful monolithic shafts of polished granite, with ancient capitals and Attic bases, all of them uniform and perhaps taken from some ancient Roman building from Sicily or Tuscany that were disassembled in order to embellish the new cathedral. These columns support large arches above which the upper gallery runs along the lateral naves and that is completely decorated with bands of white and green marble forming a natural polychromy.

View of the coffered ceiling of the central nave of the Pisa cathedral, it was replaced after the fire of 1595. The present gold-decorated ceiling has the coat of arms of the house of Medici.

The exterior facades of the Pisa Cathedral have these same decorative alternate bands, white and dark, a characteristic of Pisan architecture. Also on the facades, at the arches’ spandrels, there are beautiful inlaid mosaics especially in the main facade. This church was built to produce a noble effect of architectural beauty with the simple repetition of arches and galleries forming a kind of lattice on the church’s wall. At naked eye all these arches are apparently equal, but watching them closely it is evident that in fact they are all different and rich in variety. Thus, with the simplest means, the whole building is neither dull nor common. All Pisa cathedral is decorated with this simple combination of arches and squares there are no sculptures but mosaics representing geometric shapes made with hard stones and marbles. Since the times of ancient art humankind did not achieve such an admirable result using these simplicity of means. The lines are also never straight both outside and inside the cathedral: straight lines curved to rectify the effects of perspective, as ancient Greeks did before in their classical temples. The Pisa cathedral was consecrated in 1118 by Pope Gelasius. However, beautification works and perhaps also its restoration had to last until the end of the thirteenth century.

The Pisa Baptistry of St. John (Pisa, Italy). This baptistry was designed by Diotisalvi, whose signature can be read on two pillars inside the building together with the date 1153. The interior of the Pisa Baptistry is overwhelming and lacks decoration. The octagonal font at the center is from 1246. At the center of the font is a bronze sculpture of St. John the Baptist.

The Baptistry of Pisa was begun in 1153 with master Deotisalvi as the architect in charge. The Pisan Baptistry is another architectural wonder. It has a circular floor plan with a nave that runs all around it and a gallery at the second level the central space, with the baptismal fonts, is covered by a very high conical dome in order to enhance the acoustics of the construction. It is believed that this dome had originally a hole at the very top and that the dome itself was extradosed, that is, visible to the outside with the same conical shape seen at the interior of the building. But in the Renaissance, this conical dome was surrounded by a spherical surface from which now protrudes the tip of the original cone. In the original construction, the exterior wall of the baptistry had a simple ornamentation with arcades characteristic of the Pisan style but was later decorated with Gothic pinnacles*.

The inner dome of the Pisa Baptistry. The original pyramidal roof was covered with a spherical cupola. As a result of the combination of these two roofs, the pyramidal inner one and the domed external one, the Baptistry’s interior is acoustically perfect making of its space a resonating chamber. A scale model of the Pisa baptistry showing the internal structure of its dome, with the original pyramidal roof built inside a spherical dome and slightly protruding at the top.

Next to the cathedral stands the Campanile, traditionally known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a cylindrical tower with seven floors topped by a cylinder of smaller diameter where the bells are placed. The tower’s exterior wall is decorated by arcades on each floor, a design that was in complete harmony with that of the cathedral’s facade. The unique leaning of the tower was not preconceived but the result of the irregular and natural sinking of the ground on which it was built.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a campanile or freestanding bell tower located behind the Pisa cathedral, and is worldwide known for its unintended tilt. The height of the tower is 55.86 mt (183.27 ft) from the ground on the low side and 56.67 mt (185.93 ft) on the high side. External loggia of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The construction of the tower began on August 14, 1173. During construction, in an effort to compensate for the tilt, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other. Because of this feature, the tower is actually curved. The seventh floor was completed in 1319 and the bell-chamber was finished in 1372 by Tommaso di Andrea Pisano, who succeeded in harmonizing the Gothic elements of the bell-chamber with the Romanesque style of the tower. The tower has seven bells, one for each note of the musical major scale.

The Pisan Campo Santo or Camposanto Monumentale is the last building that together with the Cathedral, the Campanile and the Baptistry form the monumental architectural ensemble known as delle quatro fabbriche. Its construction begun in the late thirteenth century and is a rectangular patio or courtyard filled with soil from the Calvary, which was transported to Pisa in the large Pisan ships returning from the Holy Land. The Camposanto does not have any exterior openings its marble walls are completely smooth and solid. In its ample cloister’s gallery are placed glorious trophies mixed with the graves of the protectors of the Republic, plus some works of art. These last include ancient Roman busts and Greek stelae and sarcophagi decorated with Early Christian art motifs located next to the tomb of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII who wanted to be buried in Pisa, his Ghibelline city.

External view of the Camposanto Monumentale of Pisa. The structure was built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha brought back to Pisa during the Fourth Crusade in the 12th century. The Camposanto’s outer wall is composed of 43 blind arches. The interior courtyard of the Camposanto Monumentale. Most of the tombs are placed under the arcades, although a few are on the central lawn. The inner courtyard is surrounded by elaborate round arches with slender divisions and pluri-lobed tracery. The cemetery has three chapels: the chapel Ammannati, the chapel Aulla and the chapel Dal Pozzo.

In subsequent essays we will learn the important role the Camposanto Monumentale played in the development of Italian art its huge lateral walls were covered with frescoes painted by the greatest masters of the transitional period between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and the first period of the latter.

A view of one of the inner aisles of the Campo Santo Monumentale which contains an important collection of Roman sarcophagi and other ancient works of art.

Gothic pinnacles: An architectural ornament generally forming the cap or crown of a buttress or small turret. The pinnacle looks like a small spire (a tapering conical or pyramidal structure). It was mainly used in Gothic architecture. A pinnacle has two purposes: 1) Ornamental – by adding to the loftiness and verticity of the structure. 2) Structural – the pinnacles were very heavy and often rectified with lead, in order to allow the flying buttresses to contain the stress of the building’s vaults and roof. This was done by adding compressive stress (a direct result of the pinnacle weight itself) to the thrust vector and thus shifting it downwards rather than sideway.


What is the role of towers in Romanesque architecture? - History



416. Speyer Cathedral. Begun 1030


416. Speyer Cathedral, from the east.
Speyer Cathedral, Interior

German Romanesque architecture, centered in the Rhineland, was equally conservative, although its conservatism reflects the persistence of Carolingian-Otto-nian rather than earlier traditions. Its finest achievement is the Imperial Cathedral of Speyer, begun about 1030 but not completed until more than a century later. It has a westwork (now sheathed by a modern reconstruction) and an equally monumental eastern grouping of crossing tower and paired stair towers (fig. 416). As on many German facades of the same period, the architectural detail derives from the First Romanesque in Lombardy (compare S. Ambrogio), long a focus of German imperial ambitions. However, the tall proportions are northern, and the scale is so great as to dwarf every other church of the period. The nave, one-third taller and wider than that of Durham, has a generous clerestory, since it was planned for a wooden roof. Only in the early twelfth century was it divided into square bays and covered with heavy, unribbed groined vaults akin to the Lombard rather than the Norman type.



417. Tournai Cathedral.

The impressive eastern end of Speyer Cathedral is echoed in a number of churches of the Rhine Valley and the Low Countries. In the Cathedral of Tournai (fig. 417), it occurs twice, at either end of the transept. The result is the most memorable massing of towers anywhere in Romanesque architecture. Originally, there were to have been four more: two at the west facade (later reduced to turrets) and two flanking the eastern apse (replaced by a huge Gothic choir). Such multiple towers had been firmly established in medieval church design north of the Alps since the time of Charlemagne (see fig. 382), although few complete sets were ever finished and even fewer have survived. Their popularity can hardly be accounted for on the basis of their practical functions (whether stair towers, bell towers, or watchtowers). In a way not easily fathomed today, they expressed medieval man's relation to the supernatural, as the ziggurats had done for the ancient Mesopotamians. (The story of the Tower of Babel fascinated the people of the Middle Ages.) Perhaps their symbolic meaning is best illustrated by a "case history." A certain count had a quarrel with the people of a nearby town, led by their bishop. He finally laid siege to the town, captured it, and, to express his triumph and humiliate his enemies, he lopped the top off their cathedral tower. Evidently, loss of tower meant loss of face, for towers were considered architectural symbols of strength, power, and authority.


417. Tournai Cathedral. Nave, 1110-71 transept and crossing, c. 1165-1213
417. Tournai Cathedral , Interior


Bamberg Cathedral

The Bamberg Cathedral (German: Bamberger Dom, official name Bamberger Dom St. Peter und St. Georg) is a church in Bamberg, Germany, completed in the 13th century. The cathedral is under the administration of the Roman Catholic Church and is the seat of the Archbishop of Bamberg.

The cathedral is a late Romanesque building with four imposing towers. It was founded in 1004 by the emperor Henry II, finished in 1012 and consecrated on May 6, 1012. It was later partially destroyed by fire in 1081. The new cathedral, built by St. Otto of Bamberg, was consecrated in 1111, and in the 13th century received its present late-Romanesque form.

The cathedral is about 94 m long, 28 m broad, 26 m high, and the four towers are each about 81 m high. Of its many works of art may be mentioned the magnificent marble tomb of the founder and his wife, the empress Cunigunde, considered the masterpiece of the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider, and carved between 1499 and 1513.

Another treasure of the cathedral is an equestrian statue known as the Bamberg Horseman (German: Der Bamberger Reiter). This statue, possibly depicting the Hungarian king Stephen I, most likely dates to the period from 1225 to 1237.

Bamberg Cathedral is typically German in appearance with a transept and short chancel, and a second apse projecting from the eastern end, the main door being at the side. The paired towers flank each end of the building and have later copper spires.

The cathedral was founded in 1004 by the emperor Henry II, and was consecrated in 1012. During the next two centuries it was burnt down twice. The building we now see is a late Romanesque building with four big towers. It has a choir at both ends. The east chancel is dedicated to St. George. This symbolizes the Holy Roman Empire. The west chancel is dedicated to St. Peter symbolizing the Pope.



Bamberg Cathedral , Interior



Bamberg Cathedral , Cunigunde and Heinrich II carved in the entrance porch.
Bamberg Cathedral , The Bamberger Reiter.


WORMS CATHEDRAL.

Cathedral of St Peter (German: Wormser Dom) is the principal church and chief building of Worms, Germany. Along with Speyer and Mainz, it ranks among the finest Romanesque churches along the Rhine. This magnificent basilica, with four round towers, two large domes, and a choir at each end, has an imposing exterior, though the impression produced by the interior is also one of great dignity and simplicity, heightened by the natural color of the red sandstone of which it is built. The Catholic Prince-Bishopric of Worms ceased to exist in 1800.

Only the ground plan and the lower part of the western towers belong to the original building consecrated in 1110. The remainder was mostly finished by 1181, but the west choir and the vaulting were built in the 13th century, the elaborate south portal was added in the 14th century, and the central dome has been rebuilt.

The ornamentation of the older parts is simple even the more elaborate later forms show no high development of workmanship. Unique sculptures depicting salvation stories appear above the Gothic-era south doorway. The baptismal font contains five remarkable stone reliefs from the late 15th century. The church's original windows were destroyed by bombing in 1943 between 1965 to 1995 new windows were made by Mainz artist Alois Plum.

The cathedral is 110 m long, and 27 m wide, or, including the transepts, which are near the west end, 36 m (inner measurements). The height in the nave is 26 m under the domes it is 40 m.


Worms Cathedral, Germany

Worms Cathedral, Germany


Worms Cathedral, interior


The Lund Cathedral, Sweden
The Lund Cathedral, interior


The Lund Cathedral (Swedish: Lunds domkyrka) is the Lutheran cathedral in Lund, Scania, Sweden. It is the seat of the bishop of Lund of the Church of Sweden.
Lund was an important town long before there was a cathedral. Lund was the site of the Skane Assembly (Danish: landsting) at St Liber's Hill into the Middle Ages. It was also the site of a pre-Christian religious center.

A cathedral was built in Lund before 1085, but it is difficult to know if the present building was built in the same place. In the gift letter of Canute the Holy, dated to May 21, 1085, there is a mention of a cathedral built during the 1080s. Canute gave several properties that enabled the building of the cathedral. However, sources indicate that Canute's cathedral is not the present Lund Cathedral. The Cathedral School was established in 1085, making it Denmark's oldest school.

King Eric I of Denmark went to Rome on a pilgrimage and secured two important concessions from Pope Pascal II: sainthood for his murdered brother, Saint Canute IV and the creation of an archdiocese that included all of Scandinavia. Lund was named as the headquarters. Bishop Asser Thorkilsson became the first archbishop for all of Scandinavia in 1104 and the cathedral was begun sometime after he took office. The building was constructed in the typical basilica style with half-rounded arches supporting a flat timber ceiling. The cathedral was constructed out of granite blocks. The high altar of the crypt was consecrated in 1123. The cathedral and the high altar were consecrated to St Lawrence on September 1, 1145 by Archbishop Eskil, Asser's successor. Of the present church only the apse has remained unchanged. Lund became the religious heart of Denmark and over the years many monasteries, nunneries, priories sprang up around the cathedral.

Lund played a vital role in Denmark's history from the time it was made a bishopric. It was the place of many important meeting between kings and nobility. Valdemar II was crowned there in 1202. In 1234 the church suffered an extensive fire. When the church was rebuilt a lecture wall, new vaults and a new facade to the west were added. Many valuable artistic additions were done to the church in mediaeval times. In 1294 Archbishop Jens Grand was arrested in the Cathedral. In the 1370s, magnificent gothic choir stalls where installed in the church, and in 1398 a gothic, cupboard-shaped wooden altarpiece was placed in the main chapel. An astronomical clock was installed in the nave around 1424 and renovated many times. In the 1510s, during the reign of King John I, German artist Adam van Düren led a major renovation of the church. In the crypt, van Düren created a well decorated with interesting reliefs and a monumental sarcophagus for the most recent archbishop of Lund, Birger Gunnersen.

Lund was an important cultural and religious city in the Middle Ages, as attested by its large number of churches and monasteries. The Reformation caused a dramatic decrease of the influence of the church in the city and country. In 1527 the Franciscan Monastery was forcibly shut down by a mob of townspeople who had received permission to close the monastery. Franciscans were especially hated because they lived by soliciting alms in addition to tithes and other fees ordinary people had to pay to the church. Torben Bille was the last Archbishop and struggled vainly against the Lutherans until he was imprisoned in 1536. He was released the following year after he submitted to the Church Ordinances. The cathedral was stripped of statues, medieval artwork, side altars, and reliquaries.

After the Treaty of Roskilde, in 1658, the Bishopric of Lund was transferred to Sweden.

An extensive restoration was done by Helgo Zettervall in the late 19th century, when the towers got their present appearance. Mosaic decoration was added to the interior of the apse in the 1920s.

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Richardsonian Romanesque

Richardsonian Romanesque is a term coined to describe the distinct Neo-Romanesque buildings of HH Richardson and other American Architects in the late 19th century. Some of the most notable works are Trinity Church in Boston as well as the Winn Memorial Library in Woburn Massachusetts.

Boston’s Trinity Church was designed by HH Richardson and borrows many elements from Romanesque Architecture.
Photo by Daderot from Wikimedia Commons

Although much different thanks to new technologies in masonry construction, Richardsonian Romanesque utilizes many of the distinct principles of Romanesque architecture. The heavy and bulky forms, paired with the rounded arches greatly resemble the Romanesque buildings that were popular in Europe during the middle ages.


Maria Laach Abbey

Maria Laach Abbey was founded in 1093 as a priory of Affligem Abbey (in modern Belgium) by the first Count Palatine of the Rhine Heinrich II von Laach and his wife Adelheid von Orlamünde-Weimar, widow of Hermann II of Lotharingia. Laach became an independent house in 1127, under its first abbot, Gilbert. The abbey developed as a centre of study during the 12th century. The 13th-century abbots Albert (1199&ndash1217) and Theoderich II (1256&ndash1295) added significantly to the buildings and architectural decoration, including the monumental tomb of the founder.

In common with most other German Benedictine houses, Laach declined during the 14th century in terms of its spiritual and monastic life, a tendency which was reversed only in the late 15th century, under the influence of the reforming Bursfelde Congregation, which the abbey joined, supported against a certain resistance within the abbey by Abbot Johannes V von Deidesheim (1469&ndash1491).

The consequent improvement in discipline led to a fruitful literary period in the abbey"s history, prominent in which were Jakob Siberti, Tilman of Bonn and Benedict of Munstereifel, but principally Prior Johannes Butzbach (d. 1526). Although much of his work, both published and unpublished, survives, his chronicle of the abbey is unfortunately lost.

Laach Abbey was dissolved in the secularisation of 1802. The premises became the property, first of the occupying French, and then in 1815 of the Prussian State. In 1820 the buildings were acquired by the Society of Jesus, who established a place of study and scholarship here.

The abbey structure dates from between 1093 and 1177, with a paradisium added around 1225 and is considered a prime example of Romanesque architecture of the Staufen period. Despite its long construction time the well-preserved basilica with its six towers is considered to be one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in Germany.

Due to a considerable reduction of the lake level in the early 19th century, serious and unexpected structural damages to the church vaults and roofs were detected. Three important renovation campaigns took place - the first in the 1830s to repair the structural damages including the removal of the paradisium"s upper storey (it had an upper storey at that time for accommodation facilities), the second in the 1880s including repairs after a serious fire in the southern round tower in 1885, and the third in the 1930s. Many former changes to the buildings carried out in Gothic (e. g. steep tower roofs) and Baroque style (e. g. wider windows) have been re-altered to Romanesque style.

The Maria Laach Abbey has been at the center of a controversy over its relations with the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. In particular Heinrich Böll, depicting in Billiards at Half-past Nine a Benedictine monastery whose monks actively and voluntarily collaborated with the Nazis, is generally considered to have had Maria Laach in mind.

Born Henri Ebel in 1896 as son of a wine-producing family from Alsace, and later a significant scholar of his times, Dr. Basilius Ebel became abbot of St. Matthias" Abbey in Trier in 1939 and provided a sanctuary to Jews whom he admitted among the monks. In 1941, his abbey was confiscated by the Gestapo and he himself was exiled to Maria Laach where he became abbot from 1946 to 1966. Under his leadership, Maria Laach became an important centre of reconciliation between Christians and Jews.

The abbey church of Maria Laach is considered a masterpiece of German Romanesque architecture, with its multiple towers, large westwork with arcaded gallery, and unique west porch. The east end has a round apse flanked by twin square towers. Over the transept crossing is a broad cupola with cone-shaped roof. The monumental west façade includes a west choir with apse flanked by round twin towers and a square central tower.

The Paradise, a single-story, colonnaded west porch surrounding a small courtyard, was added in about 1225. It recalls the architecture of Early Christian basilicas. Its capitals are richly carved with human and mythical figures. The imaginative mason is known as the Laacher Samson-Meister or 'Master of the Laach Samson,' whose carvings are also found in Cologne and elsewhere. The Lion Fountain in the courtyard was added in 1928.

Notable features of the interior include the tomb of the founder Pfalzgraf Heinrich II (dating from 1270), 16th-century murals, a Late Romanesque baldachino in the apse, and interesting modern decorations such as mosaics from c.1910 and stained glass windows from the 1950s.


The Architecture of Hogwarts Castle

’ve always been fascinated with the architecture of Hogwarts Castle. For those not in the know, “The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” is a fictional British school of magic, and is the primary setting in the Harry Potter films. The huge structure is an architectural wonder, even though it was never built, except in scaled down models and theme parks.

Hogwarts Castle was originally imagined by J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books (yes, the books came before the movies), and designed by production designer Stuart Craig and his team. All of them drew inspiration from various locations in Great Britain for the castle interiors and exteriors.

The style of Hogwarts has been called Medieval Gothic, but in actuality it is a mixture of several styles, including Norman Romanesque, Gothic and Gothic Revival.

In this post, I’m going to go over the places that were inspirations for Hogwarts Castle and/or were used as Hogwarts filming locations. The large majority of these I’ve been able to visit. Last summer I went with my wife and our three children to Great Britain, in search of these locations.

In actuality, Annie and I were very excited to see the history and architecture of London (among other things), and the rest of the Old-World country. However, we didn’t want to bore our kids to death. As they are all big Harry Potter fans (having read all of the books and seen the films), we looked up Harry Potter filming locations and added them to the itinerary. Many of these locations turned out to also be historical architecture, so it worked out well for all of us.

‍Durham Cathedral

In the Harry Potter world, Hogwarts has existed for over a thousand years, so the designers wanted it to look like it’s been there awhile. There is no greater influence on Hogwarts than the castles and cathedrals in the United Kingdom. Probably the one location which inspired the production team more than any other was Durham Cathedral. The design team mentioned that the cathedral was used as the basis for everything to the right of the viaduct. In fact the twin square towers of Hogwarts are almost an exact replica of this stone structure, except for some added storybook exaggeration, including tall, pointy spires added to the tops.

The cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman Architecture, which is England’s version of the Romanesque style. Major elements of this style include:

  • Massive semi-circular arches over windows and doorways
  • Arched cloisters (semi-open covered walkways around quadrangles)
  • Vaulted ceilings
  • Bell towers

Before I go too far, I'm adding in a sketch (which was the base of our Hogwarts color rendering above) pointing out some of these architectural elements, as well as other elements still to come.

I should also mention that the element labeled "Tower" is actually the "Grand Staircase Tower". Something my daughter pointed out to me.

The Romanesque style began in Europe somewhere around the 8th century, and came to England through the Norman nobles and bishops in the 11th century. The Norman style was known to have more massive proportions than the Romanesque in other regions. It developed in the latter part of the 12th century into the Gothic style, where the arches became pointed.

Durham Cathedral, along with Durham Castle, were both built as an intimidating projection of the new Norman king’s (William the Conqueror’s) power. Both the cathedral and castle are strategically located in a defensive position on a high promontory above the City of Durham, in NE England. The River Wear flows almost completely around them.

Construction began on the Cathedral in 1093 and was completed in 1140. Key components which were later used at Hogwarts Castle include ribbed vaults, pointed arches and flying buttresses. Interestingly, though Durham Cathedral is known largely as a Norman Romanesque design, those features appeared in the new Gothic architecture in Northern France a few decades later (in fact the ribbed vaults at Durham are the earliest on record).

This is most likely because of the Norman stonemasons who built the cathedral, and then passed it along to such structures as Chartres Cathedral in France, which was built from 1194 to 1250. The features were also new structural engineering feats, enabling the buildings to go taller, more elaborate and complicated, and allowing larger windows. Wizard’s magic in those days. -)

Durham Cathedral was used as a backdrop for both exterior and interior scenes in the first two Harry Potter films. In the first, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry walks with Hedwig, his white owl, through the cloisters of the cathedral. Ron Weasley also vomited up a slug here in the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The cathedral’s Chapter House was used as Professor McGonagall’s classroom.

The one thing I regret is not seeing Durham Cathedral up close. Iɽ like to give a big thanks to Les Bessant for allowing me to use his cathedral photos. We were running late on the way to our kid's broomstick training classes at Alnwick so we didn't have time to make it up there.

‍Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle, located about an hour’s drive north of Durham Cathedral, was used as a backdrop where the broomstick flying and Quidditch lessons were filmed, as well as where the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia crash lands into the Whomping Willow.

The Castle, like Durham Cathedral, was also built following the Norman Conquest. It sits prominently between the River Aln (flowing on the north side of the castle), and a deep ravine to the southeast. Construction began in 1096, though it was largely rebuilt and remodeled throughout the centuries, as several wars played out and the castle passed through many different hands.

The castle seems to have been influenced by Durham’s Cathedral and Castle, starting in the Norman Romanesque style, then adding Gothic elements, and later Gothic Revival. As with the Gothic architecture of other parts of Europe, English Gothic is defined by its pointed arches, vaulted roofs, buttresses, large windows, and spires.

[/caption]Today, Alnwick Castle still gives classes in Wizardry, including broomstick flying lessons.

Here's my kids after a successful class. Now I don't have to worry about buying cars for them.

If you ever make it to Alnwick, I strongly recommend checking out the Alnwick Treehouse, and making dinner reservations at the Treehouse Restaurant. It's a fun experience for everyone, whether you have kids and/or still have any inner child left in you.

‍Edinburgh

I believe no city had more influence on the design of Hogwarts than Edinburgh, Scotland. J.K. Rowling moved here in the midst of writing the first few chapters of what would become Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US).

From the Palace of Holyroodhouse (one of the Queen’s residences), up to Edinburgh Castle, which towers above the town on a rocky promontory, the Old Town of Edinburgh has a magical feel, with exaggerated elements, mainly in the Scottish Baronial style, which incorporates components of the Gothic Revival style.

The Edinburgh Scottish Baronial elements which likely most influenced Rowling, and later the designer of Hogwarts, were the features of Medieval castles and the chateaux (manor houses) of the French Renaissance, and included:

  • Towers adorned with small turrets, often pointed
  • Crenelated battlements – parapets with rectangular gaps, for firing arrows
  • Machicolations - floor openings at the bottom of tower corbels, used to drop stones and other objects on attackers (Ouch)
  • Lancet windows - tall, skinny windows with pointed arches at the top
  • Finials – decorative features atop towers and spires

Edinburgh Castle towers above the city on the plug of an extinct volcano. Just the sheer presence of it must have been an inspiration to Rowling for the image of Hogwarts. It was built and remodeled in various styles throughout the years. The earliest found settlements go back to at least the early Iron Age. The oldest surviving castle structure is St. Margaret’s Chapel, built in the 12th century.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle in Scotland is another of the castles said to inspire Hogwarts, and like Edinburgh Castle, mainly for its towering location above the landscape. It sits atop Castle Hill, is surrounded by cliffs on three sides, and dates back to at least the early 12th century.

Gloucester Cathedral

In the first, second and sixth Harry Potter films, the corridors leading to Gryffindor House were filmed in the cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral. Moaning Myrtle, Nearly Headless Nick, and a woman in a painting asking for a password were seen here. This is also where Harry and Ron hid from a troll.

In a dark scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Professor Snape slammed Malfoy against the wall (on the left, just beyond where the man is sitting below), saying, "I swore to protect you. I made the unbreakable vow", as Harry listens in the dark behind one of the columns on the right.

These same cloisters are the earliest examples of fan-vaulting in the world.

Built as an abbey church (and later dissolved by Henry VIII in the Dissolution of the Monasteries), construction began here in 1089 in the Norman Romanesque style. Later additions were in every style of Gothic architecture, and include the largest medieval window in the world.

Hendricks Architecture designs mainly custom residences, from small beach houses to luxury waterfront mountain homes, but are always open to designing castles, cathedrals and other structures.


Watch the video: Romanesque Architecture Presentation (August 2022).