Sunday, November 6, 2011

From On High

Most of the time when we travel, I point my camera up. 
For obvious reasons.
And to think that most of these cathedrals were built centuries ago without the aid of our modern tools.

Most of the cathedrals we saw are Gothic. Until last night, I could not have told you what the difference was between the older Romanesque style and Gothic style. The Romanesque cathedrals had walls that were thick and bulky, with rounded windows that did not let in much light because they had to be small and narrow to support the weight of the wall. Gothic cathedrals were a building revolution, featuring pointed arches that redirected the stress line down toward the ground, rather than to the sides as in the Romanesque style. That allowed the walls to be built higher. Where the stress line did push outward, they also had a stress reliever called a flying buttress that was designed to counteract that.

Last night we happened on an interesting show on NOVA called "Building the Great Cathedrals". It was fascinating to watch. There are two teams, one in France and one in California, working on building in the Gothic style to learn how their tall walls of mainly glass can support such huge and heavy stone ceilings. The team in France, at Castle Guédelon, is building a medieval castle, using only traditional tools and local materials (stone, iron and wood). The team in Vina, California is reassembling a Gothic church at the Abbey of New Clairvaux to discover how cathedrals were built. In 1930, William Randolph Hearst bought the church from a monastery in Ovila, Spain and shipped it, block by block, back to California. It had never been built until now. 


  1. wow, had not thought about the weight of the ceiling putting pressure on the walls and glass..very interesting how the Gothic style was a bit revolutionary in that it redirected the stress line to the ground...
    All I ever saw was gorgeous architecture...
    fabulous and informative post..

  2. You are so right Annie, you miss so much if you don't point the camera up!
    Hope you had a good weekend!
    Di (always go by Di :-))

  3. Hi Annie
    Hope this comment takes.. Haven't been able to get into your blog lately... not sure if that is google or my darn internet..

    Well I totally agree.. I pretty much looked up for 5 weeks.. good exercise for the arms though.. shooting upwards.. hehe

    Love these shots.. are any of these St Merri? Did you make it there?

    Ok.. have a great week.. ciao xxx Julie

  4. ooh, I didn't know about the Abbey of New Clairvaux I would love to go see that in progress. lovely post!

  5. Looking up towards heaven you have captured other worldly images: gorgeous.


  6. On my first trip to Europe I got a very sore neck from always looking up! These stunning old cathedrals always make me feel very humble.Warm wishes.



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