Study Aid 2: Romanesque Architecture

As we have already seen, monumental architecture in Western Europe began a slow recovery with the designs produced during the Carolingian period. Carolingian buildings displayed a number of features (including the use of towers and round or semi-circular arches and vaults) that wouldfind their fullest expression in the Romanesque period (c.950-1200AD) with its aesthetic based on the coherent, rhythmic composistion of the great masses. Other common elements include: barrel vaults, groin vaults, basilican forms, arcades, cloisters, attached towers, and "blind" arcades, thick walls, small windows, and dark interiors. The name "Romanesque" was first given to these buildings by 19th century historians, who noted the obvious similarities between Romanesque buildings and earlier Roman ones.

After the world did not end in 1000AD (as some had expected), increasing security and prosperity in Western Europe led to the building and rebuilding of many great churches and monasteries throughout Europe. Several early, monumental Romanesque structures were erected in Germany, e.g. church of St. Michael, Hildesheim, Germany, 1001-1007; Speyer Cathedral, Germany, 1027-1060/ groin vaulted ceiling, 1082-1106. In other parts of Europe, early and/or distinct forms of Romanesque architecture were created as well, e.g.: Cluny III, France, 1088-1130; St. Etienne, Caen, France, 1064-1077; vaulting constructed between 1120-1130; St. Front, mid 12th century, Periguenux, France; Cistercian abbey at Fontenay, France, 1118-. The Romanesque architecture of Italy displayed remarkable variety including designs reminicent of Early Christian forms (S. Ambrogio, Milan, 12th centruy), colorful polychromed exteriors that display classical proportions (the cathedral Baptistry of S. Giovanni, Florence, 1060-1200; and structures embellished with delicate, arcaded walls (Cathedral Complex at Pisa, Pisa, Italy; various architects (cathedral begun in 1063; baptistry 1153-14th c., bell tower [campanile] 1174-14th c.).

Many of the more important Romanesque buildings were the destination of religious pilgrimages that became increasingly important in the Middle Ages as believers sought out the graves and relice of saints (e.g. Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1078-1122, Beranrd le Vieux architect; Ste. Madeleine, Vezelay, France, 1104-32; Ste. Foy (Foi), Conques, France, 1050-1130).

Romanesque architecture was brought to England in 1066 by William the Conqueror who had built several innovative churches in his native Normandy. Consequently, the term for Romanesque architecture that is used in Great Britain is "Norman." The culmination of the Norman tradition was the cathedral at Durham (1093-1133), an enormous church that incorporated the essential elements of the coming Gothic style, i.e. the pointed arch, the flying buttress, and the rib vault.

Romanesque motifs are also found on a variety of buildings including dwellings, smaller chapels: e.g. SS. Mary & David, Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England, c. 1150, which also features late0pagan decorations; and the Holy Sepulcher chapel, Cambridge, c.1130), and castles and forts, e.g. the White Tower in the Tower of London, 1077-99. European castles underwent further changes with the exposure of the crusaders to Byzantine and Islamic fortifications, e.g. Krak des Chevalier, 1142-1250s, Syria;Caerphilly Castle, Wales, 1268-; Caenarvon Castle (Caenarfon), Wales, Great Britain, Master James architect, Edward I patron, 1283--..

Speyer Cathedral

Date: 1027-1060
Location: Speyer, Germany
Architect: Unknown


Reconstruction View of Original Appearance


Before and After the Vaulting of the Nave


Rear Elevation

Cathedral Complex at Pisa

Date: 11th-15th c.
Location: Pisa, Italy
Architect: Diotisalvi


Complex Site Plan

Aerial View of Complex

(Campo dei Miracoli)

View of Complex with Baptistery in Foreground

(Piazza dei Miracoli)

Date: 1278-15th century
Location: Pisa, Italy
Architect: Giovanni di Simone, et. al.

Campo Santo Exterior View

Campo Santo Court

Campo Santo Interior View

Restored after World War II

Date: Begun in 1063, expansion in1261-1273, completed in late 14th century
Location: Pisa, Italy
Architect: Begun by Boschetto in 1063, expanded by Rainaldo in 1261-1273


Cathedral - Exterior View of Apse and Transepts

Section of Cathedral

Interior View of Cathedral


Plan - Section - Elevation


Date: 1174 - 14th Century
Location: Pisa, Italy
Architect: Bonanno



Ste. Foy

Date: 1050-1130
Location: Conques, France
Architect: Unknown

View of Ste. Foy and town of Conques from across the valley


Aerial View

Aerial View

Exterior view of the West Facade


Interior View of Nave


Detail of Tympanum




Reliquary of Ste. Foy

Durham Cathedral

Date: 1093-1133
Location: Durham, England
Architect: Unknown


Exterior View with River Wye


Interior View - Nave after 1093


Interior View - Nave


Interior View - Aisles

Caenarvon Castle

Date: 1283-
Location: Wales, Great Britain
Architect: Master James
Patron: Edward I


Aerial View of the Castle and Town

Birds-eye Reconstruction

Exterior View

View Within Castle Walls

The Eagle Tower