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church in which a bishop presides. The designation is not dependent on the size or magnificence of a church edifice, but is entirely a matter of its assignment as the church in which the bishop shall officiate.

Romanesque cathedrals (see Romanesque architecture and artRomanesque architecture and art,
the artistic style that prevailed throughout Europe from the 10th to the mid-12th cent., although it persisted until considerably later in certain areas.
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) were massive, blocklike, domed and heavily vaulted structures based on the traditional basilicabasilica
, large building erected by the Romans for transacting business and disposing of legal matters. Rectangular in form with a roofed hall, the building usually contained an interior colonnade, with an apse at one end or at each end.
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 form, reflecting the style dominant in Europe from c.1050 to c.1200. The tall, wide nave arcade or colonnade, flanked by shallower, shorter aisles, ran from decorative exterior portals to a large ambulatory and an apse with radiating chapels. The nave was crossed by a transepttransept
, term applied to the transverse portion of a building cutting its main axis at right angles or to each arm of such a portion. Transepts are found chiefly in churches, where, extending north and south from the main body, they create a cruciform plan.
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 and illuminated by a clerestoryclerestory
or clearstory
, a part of a building whose walls rise higher than the roofs of adjoining parts of the structure. Pierced by windows, it is chiefly a device for obtaining extra light.
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 pierced by small windows so as not to diminish the strength of the supporting walls. The Romanesque cathedral is a strong visual whole with interrelated parts that emphasize its basic structural clarity.

The great cathedrals of the 13th and 14th cent. are the culminating expression of Gothic architectureGothic architecture and art,
structures (largely cathedrals and churches) and works of art first created in France in the 12th cent. that spread throughout Western Europe through the 15th cent., and in some locations into the 16th cent.
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. These buildings are distinctive in their consistent use of ribbed vaultsvault,
ceiling over a room, formed in any one of a variety of curved shapes. Nature of Vaults

A vault is generally composed of separate units of material, such as bricks, tiles, or blocks of stone, so shaped or cut that when assembled they form a tightly wedged and
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, pointed archesarch,
the spanning of a wall opening by means of separate units (such as bricks or stone blocks) assembled into an upward curve that maintains its shape and stability through the mutual pressure of a load and the separate pieces.
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, rose windowsrose window,
large, stone-traceried, circular window of medieval churches. Romanesque churches of both England and the Continent had made use of the wheel window—a circular window ornamented by shafts radiating from a small center circle; and from this prototype developed
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, buttressesbuttress,
mass of masonry built against a wall to strengthen it. It is especially necessary when a vault or an arch places a heavy load or thrust on one part of a wall. In the case of a wall carrying the uniform load of a floor or roof, it is more economical to buttress it at
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, geometric tracerytracery,
bands or bars of stone, wood, or other material, either subdividing an opening or standing in relief against a wall and forming an ornamental pattern of solid members and open spaces.
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, and variegated stained glassstained glass,
in general, windows made of colored glass. To a large extent, the name is a misnomer, for staining is only one of the methods of coloring employed, and the best medieval glass made little use of it.
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. All of these elements were combined into a design of infinite complexity and richness. Gothic interior structure, also based on basilica form, included a long central arcaded or colonnaded nave with flanking aisles, a transept, a choir, ambulatory, and apse with radiating chapels. Stained glass was used to create a light, lacy effect of spiderweb airyness, made possible by buttressing the comparatively thin walls. The exterior facade was ornamented with great portals covered with sculpture and surmounted by double towers. Further towers often rose above transepts and crossing, and the rear portion of the entire edifice was engulfed in a profusion of buttresses and pinnacles. The building's structure is entirely subordinated visually to the intricacy of its details.

Among the most important medieval cathedrals are the following: France—Amiens, Beauvais, Bourges, Chartres, Le Mans, Notre-Dame de Paris, Rouen, Reims, Strasbourg; England—Canterbury, Durham, Ely, Lincoln, Peterborough, Salisbury, Wells, Westminster Abbey, Winchester, York; Germany—Bonn, Cologne, Mainz, Speyer, Ulm, Worms; Belgium—Antwerp, Brussels, Louvain, Ypres; Italy—Como, Florence, Milan, Monreale, Orvieto, Pisa, Siena, Spain—Ávila, Burgos, Barcelona, Salamanca, Seville, Toledo; Sweden—Lund, Uppsala. Among major cathedrals built in modern times and adhering to medieval styles of architecture are St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Episcopal) in New York City and the cathedrals of Washington, D.C., and Liverpool, England.


See O. von Simson, The Gothic Cathedral (1956); A. Rodin, Cathedrals of France (1960); G. H. Cook, The English Cathedral through the Centuries (1965); L. Baxter, The Cathedral Builders (1978); J. Gimpel, The Cathedral Builders (tr. 1983); C. Wilson, The Gothic Cathedral (1990).


The principal church of a diocese, which contains the home throne of a bishop, called the cathedra.



(Russian, sobor), in Christian terminology, the principal church of a city or monastery, in which divine services are performed by a high ecclesiastical figure, such as a patriarch or archbishop. The best-known cathedrals include the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, the “imperial” cathedral of St. Peter in Worms, St. Peter’s Church in Rome, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev, and the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Novgorod. In some cities, several cathedrals were built.


The home church of a bishop, usually the principal church in a diocese.


cathedralclick for a larger image
A negative dihedral, or in other terms, anhedral. A cathedral decreases stability but enhances maneuverability.


a. the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's official throne
b. (as modifier): a cathedral city
References in classic literature ?
It is not, like the Cathedral of Bourges, the magnificent, light, multiform, tufted, bristling efflorescent product of the pointed arch.
There is the Abbey of Jumiéges, there is the Cathedral of Reims, there is the Sainte-Croix of Orleans.
Whatever may be the carved and embroidered envelope of a cathedral, one always finds beneath it--in the state of a germ, and of a rudiment at the least--the Roman basilica.
At last four men in uniforms and sashes emerged from the cathedral doors.
There are so many incredible cathedrals all across the UK.
LIVERPOOL'S two cathedrals are getting grants totalling almost PS840,000 to mark the centenary of WWI.
Almost 40 cathedrals across England will benefit from government funding of 14.
The 300-year-old building is one of 30 English cathedrals to receive funding from The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, a government-sponsored scheme set up to help finance repairs to some of the country's most important historic buildings.
MANILA -- Dubbed as the Mother of all Churches, Cathedrals and Basilicas, the Manila Cathedral will be hosting the third leader of the Roman Catholic Church to visit the country.
COVENTRY Cathedral will be laying on a range of summer activities to teach children and adults about the old and new cathedrals.
ENGLISH cathedrals offer an experience of God for those who do not believe, according to a new report.
Last year, he also cycled from Llandaff Cathedral to one of Wales' other great cathedrals - St Davids.