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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 Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


The principal church of a diocese, which contains the home throne of a bishop, called the cathedra.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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 Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The home church of a bishop, usually the principal church in a diocese.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


cathedralclick for a larger image
A negative dihedral, or in other terms, anhedral. A cathedral decreases stability but enhances maneuverability.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


a. the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's official throne
b. (as modifier): a cathedral city
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The Cathedral Choir will perform, and One Thing Have I Desired Of The Lord by cathedral organist Gordon Tocher will get an airing.
Cathedral Gardens Ltd has submitted a planning application to Cardiff Council for the tree-fringed plot bordering Talbot Street and Cathedral Road opposite the turning for Sophia Gardens and the Welsh Institute of Sport.
'The Manila Cathedral was given a very precious and rare relic by the Vatican-a cuff from a shirt he wore,' it said.
'So if you look at the coffee table book published by the chancery office, you will see there that for the cathedral, there are only four names.
According to the Manila Cathedral, the one behind the fake account who identified themselves as the "Youth for Manila Cathedral" are saying that they will donate the proceeds for the renovation of the Manila Cathedral.
Speaking to reporters here, Laurent Nunez, the French Secretary to the Interior Minister said that both of the cathedral's towers are safe as the "fire is now weaker."
The inside of the centuries old building, originally built in 1093 by William de St-Calais, is just as impressive, with medieval architecture, intricate stained glass windows and St Cuthbert's Tomb, which lies at the heart of the cathedral.
St Michael's, constructed between the late 14th century and early 15th century, stood for hundreds of years as a parish church but was left in ruins a mere 22 years after becoming a cathedral.
Joyce Taylor, 87, received the accolade in recognition of her services to the historic cathedral.
The BBC show is set to record from Bangor Cathedral in north Wales - but not with the cathedral's own choir.
Adam Bakos and his team were in charge of building the ice cathedral with the theme of Sagrada Familia Gaudi," specified Veronika Littvova, head of the tourism organization for the Vysoke Tatry region, as quoted by the TASR newswire.The original piece of ice art is supplemented by artistic panels of Achilleas Sdoukos, glassmaker and designer of Slovak-Greek origin.