Romanesque Architecture: The Lazy Person’s Guide

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One of the architectural styles anyone interested in buildings should know is Romanesque architecture. This article highlights the basics of this era of architecture so that you can hold your own on any conversation about this era.

Romanesque Architecture: The Lazy Person's Guide
Romanesque Architecture: The Lazy Person’s Guide

What Is Romanesque Architecture

Romanesque architecture refers to structures built around Europe from the 10th to the 12th Century using the roman style. Semi-circular arches represented buildings following the roman style. The British refer to this style as Norman after the Duke of Normandy, William The Conqueror, who introduced it when he invaded the region in 1066. All kinds of buildings, such as domestic homes, shops, and churches, adhered to this style. There are some castles and numerous churches from this period that still survive to date.

Key Features

Round arches are the main characteristic of Romanesque Architecture. Piers and columns held up the arches. Additionally, this style is known for having huge solid structures, as can be seen from the massive cathedrals and castles that still stand today. This style used basic geometric shapes like circles and squares for decoration.

Romanesque buildings have very thick walls with a few small windows. They also have lots of columns. Small buildings would have columns sculpted from single pieces of stones. Massive columns for large buildings were built from ashlar masonry with hollow cores that were filled in with rubble. In many buildings, piers and columns were sometimes alternated both for functional and aesthetic purposes.

Finally, buildings constructed in this era are well known for their vaults in their roofs. The vaults evolved with time from simple barrel vaults, groin vaults, ribbed vaults to the pointed arched vault which ushered in the gothic era.

Romanesque Building Decorations

Romanesque buildings used very simple decorations. The most common decorative method was arcading, whereby a series of arches, columns, and piers are arranged decoratively on a building. Sculptures are also another popular decorative feature of the era. Artisans sculpted geometric shapes and small figurines onto the stone buildings.

Towers such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa were also a feature added to Romanesque buildings that increased their beauty. Portals are another decoration found in the entryways of many Romanesque buildings. They are a series of receding arches at the porches or lintels of buildings.

Internally, many buildings were decorated with painting and plastering and sometimes even polychrome marble. Stone buildings suitable for carving had many ornate features sculpted. Arcading was also used as a decorative feature on the interior of Romanesque buildings. Other than these, pictorial figures were used as decoration in the form of murals, paintings, and sculptures. Towards the end of the 11th-century, stained glass was also a popular decorative feature.

Romanesque Architecture: The Lazy Person's Guide
Romanesque Architecture: The Lazy Person’s Guide

Difference Between Gothic Architecture And Romanesque Architecture

Romanesque buildings were quite minimalist when compared to the flamboyant buildings found in the gothic era of architecture that immediately followed it. Gothic style buildings also have pointed arches as compared to the rounded arches found in Romanesque style.

In modern times the buildings that could make use of this style of architecture are warehouses that do not need many windows.

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