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cathedral,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.
..... Click the link for more information. ) 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.
..... Click the link for more information. 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.
..... Click the link for more information. and illuminated by a clerestoryclerestory
, 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.
..... Click the link for more information. 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.
..... Click the link for more information. . 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
..... Click the link for more information. , 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.
..... Click the link for more information. , 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
..... Click the link for more information. , 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
..... Click the link for more information. , 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.
..... Click the link for more information. , 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.
..... Click the link for more information. . 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).
(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.