Romanesque architecture: characteristic features, features, examples

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The Romanesque style in architecture is inextricably linked withthe historical epoch in which he developed. In the XI-XII centuries in Europe there were difficult times: there were many small feudal states, raids of nomadic tribes began, feudal wars raged. All this required massive strong buildings, which are not so easy to destroy and capture.

In the fortress turned into personal dwellingsfeudal lords, and Christian buildings, since the nomads attacked both the owners of the land and monasteries in the hope of capturing as much gold and other valuables as possible. In the previous buildings no one felt safe.

The influence of religion on style

The monastic orders of Benedictines and Cistercians contributed to the spread of the style across Europe. They built reliable fortresses around their monasteries as soon as they settled in new territories.

Romanesque architecture

Christian Romanesque architecture significantlydiffered from the antique both externally, and the purpose of use. In Greece and Rome, temples were built for deities in order to appease them. For this, the main emphasis was made on the worship of God, and not on the comfort and quantity of people who are in them.

Romanesque same architecture of the Middle Ages didemphasis on roominess. The maximum number of people should be placed in the temple. At the same time, a significant part of it was assigned to the library and the container of religious artifacts and simple riches. Such a building had to be huge, powerful, reliable.

Since medieval culture paid attention to antiquity, then the first Byzantine basilicas were also used as the basis for the temple plan:

  1. Central, lateral and transverse nave.
  2. At the intersection of the naves is the tower.
  3. Fronkiruyuschie tower on the western facade.
  4. Apse in the eastern part.

And although the plans of the monasteries wereuniversal, they all adapted a little to the local conditions and peculiarities of the use of each order of monks. All this became the reason for the development of Romanesque architecture.

Distinctive features of the internal device

Romanesque architecture of Western Europe has two composite types of church structures:

  • Basilica - rectangular simple structures with a fixed apse in the eastern part;
  • Round buildings with a uniform arrangement of apses.

Organization of internal space and the volume itselfthe premises have changed significantly, especially in basil. There is a new Romanesque type, in which the same space of naves, which is more like a hall. This gained particular popularity in Spain, Germany and France in the area between the Garonne and the Loire.

Inside the temples are divided mainly into square spatial blocks. This was an innovation for that period. This is one of the main features of Romanesque architecture.

Romanesque architecture of Western Europe

It was also important to create conditions for impacton the praying by the building itself. His degree depended on the way the vault and walls were made. There were several ways of overlapping: flat beam, dome on sails and a cylindrical arch. However, the most popular was the cross-shaped without ribs. This not only decorated and enriched the interior itself, but also did not spoil the longitudinal nature of the organization of space.

Romance style in architecture dictated cleargeometric relationships in terms of the building. The main nave was twice as wide as the nave. Vaults held on pylons. Between the two that hold the load and the side, and the main nave, there must have been one pylon with load only from the side. This could create conditions for the embodiment of the architectural rhythm, where thicker props alternate with thin ones. But this style required rigor, which means that all pylons should be the same. The same created the effect of a visual increase in the internal space.

Particular attention was paid to the apse, which is richwas decorated. For this purpose, false false arches (often in several tiers) were created, the walls were decorated with paintings, overlays, and various protrusions. Particular attention in the interior was given to the decoration of columns and pylons.

In ornaments begin to appear activelyplant and animal motifs. Their use and development of Romanesque architecture of the Middle Ages is obliged to the same nomadic tribes, whose representatives often settled on the local earths and assimilated with the local population.

In the interior of the churches is activeand used sculpture. It was also called a sermon in stone. Figures depicting biblical characters and motifs from the sacred book were often installed in portals. This had about the same effect on the parishioners, as well as prayer with the usual sermon.

Exterior of Romanesque temples

Outwardly Romanesque architecture is simpleform the blocks, the same as the interior space of the premises. It is characterized by small windows. This was done because the glasses were used much later.

The building itself is a composition of several volumes, the central place in which is the main nave with a semicircular apse. It is complemented by one or more transverse aisles.

Romanesque architecture castles

It is also characteristic for this style to usetowers, which are located in different ways. As a rule, two of them were installed on the front side and one at the intersection of the naves. The most decorated part is the rear facade, which houses various architectural details. Most often these are portals with sculptures. This is achieved due to the large thickness of the walls, which allow you to make impressive deepenings, in which easily placed complex sculptures.

Much less attention is paid to the lateralfacades. But the height of buildings increases as the style develops. At its dawn, the distance from the floor of the main nave to the base of the arch reaches twice the width of this architectural part of the building.

Distinctive features of architectural style

The main features of Romanesque architecture areThe fact that this style has perfected a classic wooden basilica with a flat ceiling, transforming it into a vaulted one. In the first place the arches began to appear on small spans of the lateral naves and apses. With the development of style, they appeared above the main naves.

Often the vaults were thick enough, and thereforewalls, and pylons had to withstand a huge load, because of what they designed with a large margin of safety. There have been cases when architects were wrong in the calculations and the arches fell in the final stages of construction.

The development of science and construction, as well as the need for large areas of overlap, contributed to the fact that both the walls and arches gradually began to ease.

Arch and vault

Popular vault is indispensableto cover large areas. Wooden beams could no longer cope with this. The simplest in design were the cylindrical vaults, which were quite massive and pressed against the walls by their weight, which made them very thick. The most famous monument of Romanesque architecture with such a vault over the central nave is Notre-Dame du Port (Clermont-Ferrand). Over time, the lancet form of the arch replaced the semicircular one.

monuments of Romanesque architecture

To realize the possibility of erecting roundvaults, architects turned to the traditions of ancient architecture. In Rome, straight cross vaults were built above the square rooms. Romanesque architecture slightly modified them: for the overlap began to use two half-cylinders, which were located cross relative to each other. The diagonal edges of the intersection take on the load of the arch and transmit it to the 4 pillars at the corners. These are the edges of the intersection of the architects who built the arch-crooked to facilitate the construction. When the height of the cylinders is increased to such an extent that the intersection lines become not elliptical, but semicircular, an elevated cross vault is obtained.

Full arches required reliable support.So there was a Romanesque composite pylon. The main part of it was added by half-columns. The latter played the role of a support for the crocheted arches, from which the rasp of the arch decreased. Rigid connection of crocheted arches, pylons and ribs allowed to distribute the load from the arch. This was a breakthrough in architecture. Now the edge and the arch became the frame of the arch, and the pylon is the walls.

Later appeared ridge cross vaults.They were built in such a way that they first laid out the end arches and ribs. At the peak of the development of style, they were made to be elevated, from which the diagonal arch became pointed.

The lateral naves often overlap not with the crosses, butcylindrical arches. They were also often used in civil engineering. All these features of architectural forms will become the basis of Gothic architecture, which later will improve them.

Features of construction

The main masterpieces of Romanesque architecture are created fromstone. Limestone, which was abundant along the Loire River, attracted people by being easy to handle and relatively light. This made it possible to cover them with small spans without the use of cumbersome supports. It was also used for exterior wall cladding, because it was easy to make decorative ornaments.

In Italy, the main finishing stone was marble. Its color combinations made it possible to create impressive decorative effects, which became the main feature of the Romanesque style in this country.

Romanesque architecture of the Middle Ages

As a building material, the stone was used ina kind of hewn blocks for the creation of masonry and rubble for strengthening the walls. It was then faced with slabs of grained stone, sometimes with decorative elements. In the Middle Ages, building blocks made much less than in Antiquity. This was due to the fact that the building material is easier to mine in the quarry and transport it to the place of use.

Not all the regions had enough stones.In them people made heavily burned brick blocks that were thicker and shorter than modern ones. Brick monuments of architecture of that period have survived to this day in Germany, England, Italy and France.

Secular construction

Public life in medieval Europe wassufficiently closed. Urban settlements were formed where the border guard camps of the Roman Empire used to be. Many of them were at a considerable distance from each other, and the estates of the feudal lords were still standing apart, around which people also began to settle. Because of the inability to move quickly between remote settlements, many of them lived in isolation from one another. Therefore, the architecture of different localities has its own characteristics. Thus, the Romanesque architecture of Germany is only remotely similar to the English one, like the latter in Italian. But still they all have similarities.

As already mentioned, in those days there were manywars that the nomadic tribes brought with them. There were also disputes between the feudal lords for the right to own a certain territory. Therefore, we needed passive protection. They were forts and locks.

They were equipped on the banks of precipitous rivers, onedge of the rock, surrounded by a moat. Of great importance here were the outer walls. They made them tall and thick from stone or brick blocks. The entrance to the fortress was one or several, but necessarily all of them had to quickly overlap, cutting off the enemy's way inside.

In the center of the city or castle there was a tower of the feudal lord - donjon. It was on several floors, each of which had its own purpose:

  • in the basement - prison;
  • on the first - storerooms;
  • second - the room of the owner and his family;
  • the third - the servants' quarters;
  • The roof is a place for watchmen.

In the Romanesque architecture castles playedcity-forming role. In them settled the feudal lords with relatives and servants. The walls were also inhabited by artisans who supplied the feudal lord and the inhabitants of the surrounding villages with necessary household items. For this reason, and also because Christianity occupied one of the main positions in politics of that time in the castle was a temple or a chapel.

In the royal family, locks were particularly largeand lush. Hundreds of people could live in them. Dozens of business premises were built in the courtyard. Also characteristic of such fortifications was the presence of secret underground passages, which during the siege allowed to leave the castle and make forays into the enemy camp for reconnaissance or sabotage.

Difference from Gothic

Gothic style appeared in Europe later(approximately in the XII century), when Romanesque architecture of the Middle Ages has already developed its stylistic features. Since Gothic style developed on the basis of the style we described, many people do not distinguish between them.

The difference between Romanesque and Gothic architecture

In fact, the differences between the Romance and the Gothicarchitecture are obvious. They differ for their aesthetic purpose. Romanesque temples were built with a practical purpose. Their main task was to accommodate as many people as possible and protect them from military action. It turned out that the church was the focus of protection, knowledge and enlightenment.

Gothic wanted to show the insignificance of manbefore the greatness of God. Therefore, she created the buildings majestic. At the base of the plan remains the same basilica with towers on the front facade and at the intersection of the lateral and central naves. But its sizes and decorative components vary.

The vaults are pulled up even more, creatingpeaks. On the facades are not only small sculptures, but their entire complexes. The images of mythical beings that look at the person from above predominate, as at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in Paris.

The temples have huge windows, closedstained glass, which create a little mystical glare in the room. Portals become much more multi-layered, frames with patterns. The buildings themselves tend to skyrocket, showing where to reach the person.

Fine art of the Romanesque style

Particular in this period is the Romanesque art.Architecture dictated its rules to him, as it required additional decorations. Therefore, in the temples often used huge frescoes on the entire wall with images of plots from the Bible.

Actively developed and sculpture.Following the ancient traditions, she created her stories using special innovations. The main sculptural form of this period is high relief. The capitals of the columns were richly decorated with biblical figures, and mythical animals, and bizarre plant ornaments. For the first time, the image of the Virgin Mary appears on the throne.

By the middle of the 12th century, stained glass windows began to appear.They were also the main subjects from the Holy Scriptures. In the same architectural period there were also books that were richly decorated with various illustrations, and the covers were made with inlaid with gold and precious metals.

Architectural monuments that have survived to this day

In many countries of Old Europe,examples of Roman architecture because of the fact that these structures were massive and powerful. Some of them we already mentioned in the article. Let's talk about a few representatives of this architecture.

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame la Grande (Poitiers) is an exampleFrench buildings of the 11th-12th centuries. It is a small church with three almost equal naves. Lighting in it is small, so there is a light twilight, which is slightly diluted by daylight coming from the windows of the side naves.

Italian Romanesque constructions are known for the wholepeace. One of them is the Rialto Bridge in Venice. This is a pedestrian covered structure of arched type. On both sides of the bridge there are also arched openings with pylons.

Another masterpiece of the Romanesque style is the architectural ensemble in Pisa (Italy), better known to many people on the planet thanks to the bent chapel near the five-nave cathedral - the Pisa tower.

Romanesque style in architecture

In Germany, an example of this architectural periodcan be called Worm Cathedral, in Spain - the cathedral in Salamanca, in England - Tower. And in Vilnius, the remnants of the castle castle of those times have survived to this day.


The architecture of the Romanesque style was a continuationancient traditions and the basis for the development of other styles, in particular Gothic. Simple wooden basilicas from Byzantium were transformed into majestic structures. This contributed to the search for new ways and methods of construction.

Frequent wars between feudal lords and nomadic raidstribes made people of those times create themselves reliable shelters in the form of locks and security towers, which allowed for a long time to withstand the siege of the enemy with minimal losses.

Massive structures of the Romanesque era are preserved in many places, affecting locals and tourists.

And let this style was a bit more primitive,and the terms of Romanesque architecture are not immediately understandable, it left its imprint in the architectural tradition of Western Europe and influenced the development of architecture in the East.

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