Ancient history

Gothic architecture

The Gothic Architecture refers to an architectural style that prevailed during the Late Middle Ages (10th to 15th centuries).

Churches, cathedrals, basilicas and monasteries are the main references of Gothic architecture. Hence, Gothic art is also known as the “art of cathedrals”.

Note that religion was very present in this period, as the Middle Ages were marked by theocentrism (God at the center of the world).

Thus, during a long period of human history (5th to 15th centuries), art was characterized by two styles:Gothic style and Romanesque style.

In addition to Gothic architecture, this style was also developed in sculpture and painting.

Examples of Gothic Architecture

All over Europe it is possible to find several buildings in Gothic style. Currently, they have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In France

Saint-Denis Basilica in Paris, France. It was one of the first Gothic-style buildings.

In Spain

Sevilla Cathedral, Spain

In Germany

Cologne Cathedral, Germany

In England

York Cathedral, England

In Italy

Milan Cathedral, Italy

In Austria

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria

Did you know?

Gothic art emerged in France and initially received the name of “French style”. It was during the Renaissance that it came to be pejoratively called “Gothic art”.

For the Renaissance it was considered a monstrous art compared to the classical one.

Elements of Gothic Architecture

The main elements of Gothic architecture are:

  • Arcs :Broken back arches or the pointed arches were the most used in Gothic constructions. They were often decorated with some sculptures.
  • Arcades :represent a sequence of arches supported by columns and were usually found in cloisters.
  • Squalls :the most used in the Gothic style were the rib vaults. They are concave structures used in ceilings.
  • Archobutant :structure in the form of a half arch, which were used to give greater support to high Gothic buildings.
  • Florão :in the shape of a flower, these decorative elements made of stone were placed in high places outside the buildings.
  • Stained Glass :pieces of colored glass and religious themes mark the Gothic style. Stained glass windows were widely used as ornaments in the interior of Gothic cathedrals as they allowed more light to enter the buildings.
  • Rosacea :circular and colorful decorative element filled with stained glass, which was used in church entrance portals. They allowed more light to enter and it gets its name because it has the shape of a rose.
  • Gargoyles :structure located in the roof gutters in order to drain water. Usually they were adorned with animalistic and monstrous figures. There are legends that these creatures were guardians of churches and at night they came to life.

Characteristics of Gothic Architecture

The main features of Gothic architecture are:

  • Religious themes
  • Monumental and sumptuous art
  • Verticality of constructions
  • Sharp and slender towers
  • Great ornamentation
  • Thinner and lighter walls
  • More number of windows and doors
  • Large interior lighting
  • Architectural plan in the shape of a Latin cross


Note that Gothic buildings are very tall and pointed. This idea of ​​verticality is associated with the proximity to the heavens, in this case, God and the deities.

Gothic Architecture in Brazil

First of all, we must point out that during the Middle Ages no Gothic-style buildings were erected in Brazil.

Therefore, when we speak of “gothic in Brazil” we are referring to “neo-gothic”. This style emerged in the late 19th century and was inspired by medieval Gothic art.

Sé Cathedral, in São Paulo

In Brazil, the main buildings that carry characteristics of this style are:

  • Sé Cathedral (SP)
  • Santos Cathedral (SP)
  • Our Lady of Boa Viagem Cathedral (MG)
  • Church of the Sanctuary of Caraça (MG)
  • Metropolitan Cathedral of Fortaleza (CE)
  • Metropolitan Cathedral of Vitória (ES)
  • Petropolis Cathedral (RJ)
  • Palácio da Ilha Fiscal (RJ)

Read Also :

  • Gothic Art
  • Medieval Art
  • Romanesque Art
  • Medieval Architecture

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