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.