medieval architecture styles

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe experienced a period of revival before it began to spread its artistic contributions around the world again. Medieval architecture is based on Roman designs, but in different areas of Europe modern building elements were created that made life safer and more pleasant for the inhabitants.


Today, many examples of European medieval architecture are preserved in nations ranging from Italy to Greenland; they are generally considered strictly spiritual or secular elements, according to their purpose.


As a result of the rise of Christianity and the settlement of the Catholic Church, Europeans transformed Roman basilicas into massive cathedrals. As the Romanesque style gave way to Gothic, cathedrals began to employ a new design of weight distribution, with pointed arches and buttresses supporting the interior walls of the cathedral.


The buttresses used in medieval architecture allowed architects to make the walls of cathedrals thinner, and in this way they could add colorful stained glass windows to the decoration, creating a romantic and wonderful atmosphere in the interiors of their buildings.


One of the most renowned Italian architects of the Middle Ages was Arnolfo di Cambio, responsible for the design of cathedrals, tombs and sculptures throughout Tuscany and in Rome, including a sculpture of St. Peter in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.


  • Characteristics of Medieval Architecture
  • Examples of Medieval buildings


Characteristics of the different types of Medieval Architecture

The main characteristics of the different types of medieval architecture are as follows:


Romanesque Architecture - 1066 to 1200 - Romanesque architecture is characterized by semicircular arches, vaults and by the supplanting of pillars by columns. Some Romanesque architects and builders generally used semicircular arches and only occasionally slightly pointed arches were used. Romanesque art was considered a barbaric art (like Gothic in its time).


Gothic Architecture - 1200 to 1500 - It is sometimes said that Gothic art was born in Saint-Denis (in the Paris region). Gothic architecture is characterized by stained glass windows, gargoyles, floating buttresses, flying buttresses, flying buttresses, towers and pointed arches. 

The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris did not initially have flying buttresses, it is important to note that these were mostly not indispensable and their use was generally an aesthetic rather than a technical choice.


During the Middle Ages there were many innovative changes in the architecture of the Middle Ages, passing from the Romanesque to the Gothic style. Romanesque architecture was the name given to the style of architecture used in the early Middle Ages when many of these developments were driven by the Normans and their prolific construction of castles.


Romanesque architecture was replaced by the Gothic, or Perpendicular style of architecture of the late Middle Ages (1066 - 1485).

Some examples of Medieval Constructions

During the medieval period, Xàbia was a small enclosure delimited by a 13th century wall, with corner towers, one of them in Cairat, which is still preserved, and which seems to have been integrated into an earlier construction.


This important demographic growth that Xàbia experienced during the 15th century implied an urban development, since the primitive walled enclosure was already insufficient to accommodate this increase in population.


By the end of this century or the beginning of the 16th century, the perimeter of the walls was modified to open up new roads, and a new route was designed that ran along the main avenues surrounding the town, with different accesses such as the Portal de San Vicent or de la Ferreria, the Portal del Clot or de Sant Jaume and the Portal de la Mar.


Continuing with its medieval design, the city continued to grow around the Church of San Bartolomé. The most emblematic and important buildings of the bourgeoisie of the time were built around it, who chose the area around the church to build their homes.


The local merchant bourgeoisie, dedicated to the export of raisins, and the agricultural owners chose the area around the church to build ostentatious buildings: Casa dels Bolufer, Casa de les Primícies, Casa Arnauda (or Casa de la Senyoreta Josefina), Casa Abadía, Casa de Montalbán (Captain of the fleet of pailebots of the Bolufer family), and the Casa de Tena, currently CA Lambert.


The latter, built in 1857, which at the beginning of the 20th century housed the pharmacy of the same name, was recently restored for cultural activities.


In 1805 the fourth gate of the wall, the Portal Nou, was opened in what is now known as the Plaza de la Marina Alta, however, between 1869 and 1874 the walls were demolished definitively to undertake the expansion of the town, considering the construction of the Eixample (urban expansion area).


This involved the construction of wide avenues to facilitate the movement of goods from the Plaza del Convento, through which the main regional roads passed, to the port. These are the current Príncep d'Astúries avenues, where the farmers continued the construction of their houses, enriched by the raisins, and the Av. D' Alacant, where part of the mercantile bourgeoisie settled.


To testify to the relevance of the raisin trade, in Xàbia we find the "riurau", a rectangular structure of common and rough masonry, with large arches or "ulls", with the purpose of housing the grapes spread on reeds for drying. Among the largest is the Riurau de los Català d'Arnauda, which was recently moved from its original location to Montaner Park.


Although the architecture is still governed by certain basic guidelines of geometry, the buildings are freed from the previous rational rigor and thus ensure that their structures endure. In the words of Huyghe, a Gothic building is understood as a living organism that grows towards the sun.


Finally, medieval Gothic architecture, using the empiricism of engineering, is to invent innovative tectonic solutions for the creation of spaces with great height and color. The 13th century way of representing the Heavenly Jerusalem is to create a space full of light and color.