Classic Elements

While the Gothic format can differ according come location, age, and type of building, the is often characterized by 5 vital architectural elements: big stained glass windows, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, paris buttresses, and also ornate decoration.

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Large Stained Glass Windows

While stained glass windows are uncovered in many places of worship, castle are particularly prevalent in Gothic cathedrals. Featuring meticulously reduced colored glass, this kaleidoscopic windows—which are commonly either tall and arched ‘lancet" home windows or round ‘rose" windows—are bigger than those uncovered in other varieties of churches. This permitted them come let in much more dazzling light.

Interior of Sainte-Chapelle, Paris (Photo: Jean-Christophe BENOIST (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons)

Gothic stained glass windows additionally frequently function tracery, a decorative form of rock support, and detailed scene from Biblical stories.

Photo: WikiImages

Pointed Arches

A primary function of many religious structures, ample archways deserve to be found in most Gothic churches and cathedrals. Fairly than the wide, rounded arches characteristic of Romanesque buildings, however, architects functioning in the Gothic style adapted the tall, slim pointed arches found in Islamic architecture.


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This silhouette accentuated each cathedral"s height, symbolically pointed toward the sky, and accommodated similarly-shaped vaulting.

Ribbed Vaults

In order to incorporate higher ceilings and taller windows into their designs, Gothic architects utilized a new an approach of structure support called ribbed vaulting. Ribbed vaulting requires the usage of intersecting barrel vaults—arches placed parallel come one an additional in bespeak to assistance a rounded roof.


Photo: NakNakNak

In enhancement to showcasing a an ext decorative aesthetic than timeless barrel vaults, these criss-crossed constructions offer raised support for the sky-high buildings.

Flying Buttresses

On optimal of these advanced vaulting techniques, Gothic architects employed another unique technique of structure support: flying buttresses. These projecting rock structures reinforced the buildings by redistributing the weight of the heavy roof to a lower, an ext solid level.


Photo: Rodney Bamford

Flying buttresses guarantee the cathedrals" integrity so the architects go not need to sacrifice the thin walls and big windows distinctive that the Gothic style.

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Ornate Decoration

A final feature found in Gothic architecture is the visibility of ornate decorative elements. These include embellished colonnades and colonettes, sculptural moldings, statues that saints and historical figures, pinnacles and also spires, and also gargoyles, grotesque numbers that dual as water spouts.