Gothic architecture: an introduction (article) | Khan Academy (2024)

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  • victoria aka crafty girl aka cupid

    9 years agoPosted 9 years ago. Direct link to victoria aka crafty girl aka cupid's post “How come buildings are c...”

    How come buildings are considered art.?

    (6 votes)

    • DC

      9 years agoPosted 9 years ago. Direct link to DC's post “Because they can be built...”

      Gothic architecture: an introduction (article) | Khan Academy (4)

      Gothic architecture: an introduction (article) | Khan Academy (5)

      Because they can be built beautifully. Many buildings are plain and boring, like a painted wall, but when you turn the architecture, or the paint, into a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa or the Hagia Sophia, it is art, and art by any measure.

      (27 votes)

  • Joe Rue Pighams

    9 years agoPosted 9 years ago. Direct link to Joe Rue Pighams's post “I thought that the archit...”

    I thought that the architecture had a symbolic meaning. Like how the churches were often in the shape of a cross, I thought that the ribbed vaulting was supposed to look like the inside of the bottom of a boat, referring to how the church is where the spiritual journey takes place.
    Am I wrong or did they just fail to mention this?

    (11 votes)

  • 1315048633

    8 years agoPosted 8 years ago. Direct link to 1315048633's post “what was the difference b...”

    what was the difference between ribbed vaulting and barrel vaults

    (4 votes)

    • Justin Tang

      8 years agoPosted 8 years ago. Direct link to Justin Tang's post “Barrel VaultTo understa...”

      Gothic architecture: an introduction (article) | Khan Academy (12)

      Barrel Vault

      To understand the ribbed groin vault, we have to see where it derived from. We can understand it better by looking at the barrel vault and groin vault.

      A barrel vault is the simplest form of a vault. It is a continuous archway with a surface or ceiling that is semi-circular or with a point. It is very similar to a barrel or a tunnel that was cut in half height-wise, hence the name barrel vault. Barrel vaults have existed since the Ancient Egyptians and were commonly used during Roman times.

      Groin Vault

      A groin vault in the simplest definition is an intersection of two barrel vaults positioned in right angles (90 degrees). Groin vaults are stronger than barrel vault structures because barrel vaults must be built on long walls creating less stable lateral stress, whereas the groin vault design can implement stress vertically on piers.

      Ribbed Vault

      In ribbed vaults, stone "ribs" are added to groin vaults where the arris would form. The ribs offer many advantages from functional and structural support to visual enhancements. Groin vaults compared to ribbed vaults are heavier, requiring more support and heavier filling. The stone ribs allow some of the force and pressure from the ceiling to be easily transferred to the columns/pier support below. This allows the structure to use lighter materials for the filling.

      The most important advantage of ribbed vaults is the ability to construct vaults in greater heights. It was very important for architects to achieve a monumental scale to represent the glory of God. The ability to go higher creates a sense of greatness and also allows windows in the structure to be bigger and taller, eliminating walls as a primary form of support. This creates an airy and ethereal atmosphere. Cathedrals would change from dark, massive and heavy buildings to tall elegant structures with a multitude of windows. The Durham Cathedral marks the first building to have ribbed vaults, an important structural element that would help the Gothic style flourish between the 12th and 16th century.

      (10 votes)

  • forreynj

    8 years agoPosted 8 years ago. Direct link to forreynj's post “What are some additional ...”

    What are some additional resources that go into more detail about the mathematics and engineering behind Gothic architecture?

    (4 votes)

    • drszucker

      8 years agoPosted 8 years ago. Direct link to drszucker's post “Otto von Simson's old but...”

      Otto von Simson's old but wonderful book, The Gothic Cathedral, might be a good place to start.

      (4 votes)

  • Shadia

    9 years agoPosted 9 years ago. Direct link to Shadia's post “I was wondering where on ...”

    I was wondering where on Khan Academy I could find an activity on Gothic Sculpture?

    Also, did the Gothic architecture also reflect on the artwork produced?

    (2 votes)

  • jzhang1

    7 years agoPosted 7 years ago. Direct link to jzhang1's post “"In fact, the column basi...”

    "In fact, the column basically continued all the way to the roof, and became part of the vault."

    Could someone please explain what a "vault" is? The word reminds me of an attic, or a treasury, but I'm not sure...

    (1 vote)

  • saubhaginimahajan2298

    7 years agoPosted 7 years ago. Direct link to saubhaginimahajan2298's post “Comparision between st se...”

    Comparision between st sernin toulouse ( romanesque ) and reima catherdral (gothic)?
    Points of comparsion
    (Answering what why how ?)

    (1 vote)

    • David Alexander

      7 years agoPosted 7 years ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “I think you can google ea...”

      I think you can google each of these buildings and print out the wikipedia articles to which you are led. Then, using markers or colored pencils, one color for each of your comparative categories, you can find the data you want and make the comparisons. The most important thing you can do is your own homework.

      (2 votes)

  • Camp Girl!!!

    a year agoPosted a year ago. Direct link to Camp Girl!!!'s post “what is the main similari...”

    what is the main similarity between all three churches? Notre Dame, St Denise, and Cathedral of St. John The Baptist?

    (2 votes)

    • David Alexander

      a year agoPosted a year ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “Could it be the floor pla...”

      Could it be the floor plan?
      Could it be the placement of the altar within the structure?
      Could it be the style of the towers?
      Consider these three as you view pictures of the structures. I'm sure that you can come up with something.

      (0 votes)

  • Casey.O

    7 years agoPosted 7 years ago. Direct link to Casey.O's post “How common were Gothic ch...”

    How common were Gothic churches?

    (1 vote)

    • drszucker

      7 years agoPosted 7 years ago. Direct link to drszucker's post “Gothic was the dominant s...”

      Gothic was the dominant style north of the Alps for churches for several hundred years beginning in the 12th century. So yes, Gothic churches was quite common.

      (1 vote)

  • Amber Runkle

    6 years agoPosted 6 years ago. Direct link to Amber Runkle's post “What were some requiremen...”

    What were some requirements of cathedrals?

    (1 vote)

    • David Alexander

      6 years agoPosted 6 years ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “A cathedral is the offici...”

      A cathedral is the official throne of the bishop. It is nothing but a chair. A cathedral church is the building in which the bishop's chair is located. That being the case, the "requirement" of a cathedral church is that it be the headquarters of the bishop, who administers that region and all the churches in it, and that the church itself be large enough to hold the chair, the bishop who sits in it, and any other people who might be present for ceremonies associated with the administrative and ecclesiastical duties performed there.
      I live in Tainan, Taiwan, where the local cathedral church is rather modest. In fact, it's smaller in scale than some of the local parish church buildings.

      (1 vote)

Gothic architecture: an introduction (article) | Khan Academy (2024)


What is the main idea of Gothic architecture? ›

The most fundamental element of the Gothic style of architecture is the pointed arch, which was likely borrowed from Islamic architecture that would have been seen in Spain at this time. The pointed arch relieved some of the thrust, and therefore, the stress on other structural elements.

What architectural features allowed for the increased size of windows in Gothic churches and cathedrals? ›

Taller buildings allowed for taller windows in general, but the use of stone tracery to reinforce stained glass windows also made larger windows possible.

What was the focus of art and architecture during the Gothic period? ›

Religion was a main theme in Gothic art and featured heavily in paintings, sculptures, and architecture. Religious figures and scenes from the Bible were featured heavily in the art of the times, although the movement towards humanism often allowed depictions to take on a more natural appearance than previous periods.

When did Gothic architecture begin? ›

The Gothic style first appeared in the early 12th century in northern France and rapidly spread beyond its origins in architecture to sculpture, textiles and painting, including frescoes, stained glass and illuminated manuscripts.

What are the 4 main features of Gothic style? ›

It is characterized by vertical proportions, pointed arches, external buttressing, and asymmetry. At great gothic cathedrals like Chartres in France and Salisbury in England, pointed arches allowed for heavy stone ceiling vaults despite the fact that the walls were pierced for huge stained-glass windows.

What are some interesting facts about Gothic architecture? ›

Using pointed arches, architects could make vaults of very different shapes. They did not even have to be rectangular. A Gothic architect could make a vault with one side narrow, two sides wide and the last side even wider. They could make a vault with three sides or five sides quite easily, by using pointed arches.

What are the 3 main structural features introduced in Gothic architecture? ›

The rib vault, flying buttress, and pointed (Gothic) arch were used as solutions to the problem of building a very tall structure while preserving as much natural light as possible.

What are the two most recognizable features of Gothic architecture? ›

The defining design element of Gothic architecture is the pointed or ogival arch. The use of the pointed arch in turn led to the development of the pointed rib vault and flying buttresses, combined with elaborate tracery and stained glass windows.

What is Gothic architecture inspired by? ›

Romanesque tradition

Gothic architecture grew out of the previous architectural genre, Romanesque. For the most part, there was not a clean break, as there was to be later in Renaissance Florence with the revival of the Classical style in the early 15th century.

What was one of the primary aims of Gothic architects? ›

We should say that one of the primary goals of the Gothic architect was to open up the walls to the stained glass, glass that helped to make the interior a space that recalled the divine, that gave one a sense of heaven here on earth.

What did Gothic architecture reflect? ›

In conclusion, Gothic architecture was a clear reflection of the cultural changes in Europe during the Middle Ages. Its emphasis on light, height, and intricate detail mirrored the increasing power of the Church, the growing interest in the natural world, and the increasing complexity of urban life.

What innovations in architecture made the Gothic style possible? ›

The Gothic style churches had pointed arches and larger windows. They added pointed arches. it made literature as a whole more accessible to the general public and led to the development of new art and literature forms.

Why was Gothic architecture important? ›

Gothic designs were actually created to bring more sunlight into spaces, mainly churches, and led to the design and construction of some of the world's most iconic buildings.

Why is Gothic art important? ›

By the end of the Middle Ages, the Gothic style had become “international” in its spread across Europe, and its emphasis on naturalism sparked the revolution in painting that flourished during the Renaissance even if its architecture was replaced with straighter lines and classical proportions.

Why did Gothic architecture end? ›

Whereas in much of Europe Gothic buildings were fabricated with stone, Italian Gothic used brick and marble instead. Gothic architecture began to decline as Renaissance architecture began to rise in popularity in Italy, France and around Europe.

What made the increase window size of the Gothic cathedrals possible? ›

The increase in the use of large windows during the Gothic period is directly related to the use of the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, and the flying buttress. All of these architectural features absorbed the weight of the structure, which had rested on the walls in Romanesque architecture.

How were Gothic cathedrals able to include large windows? ›

Gothic Architecture

While making colored glass dates to late Roman times, advances in building techniques during the Middle Ages enabled ceilings to grow higher and be supported by elements other than exterior walls. Those solid walls then became large sections of windows.

What are the features of Gothic windows? ›

Gothic windows are often uniquely shaped with pointed arches and are a defining feature of the home. The pointed arch design is also usually carried out through the home's exterior doors as well. Steeply pitched roofs, prominent chimneys, and decorative gables are also defining exterior gothic features.

Why did Gothic cathedrals have lots of windows? ›

They were particularly important in the High Gothic cathedrals, most famously in Chartres Cathedral. Their function was to fill the interior with a mystical colored light, representing the Holy Spirit, and also to illustrate the stories of the Bible for the large majority of the congregation who could not read.


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