Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Romanesque Churches and Cathedrals

Romanesque was the dominant architectural style in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. Named for its basis in the basilicas of ancient Rome, Romanesque architecture developed in northern Italy and had its most exquisite expression in France, but fine examples can be found throughout western Europe. 

"Romanesque" is Roman(e) in French, Romanish in German, Romaanse in Dutch, Románico in Spanish and Romanico in Italian.
Romanesque churches were the first buildings to incorporate monumental sculpture since ancient Rome and the first to use a stone vault instead of a wooden roof. Other characteristics of Romanesque include round arches, large towers, thick walls, small windows, and decorative details inside and out. 

When they were first built, Romanesque churches were alive with color and imagery, serving as a visual Bible to a mostly illiterate population. But not all Romanesque church art is religious: many carvings and paintings depict plants, animals, mythical beasts, pagan imagery, scenes of daily medieval life, and humorous figures.

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