LATE POST: Western Europe After Roman Empire

Monks, Knights and Pilgrims

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After the reign of Roman Empire in Europe, some territories appeared as a consequence of dissipated power. During this period popes played determining roles in European politics. Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman emperor, aimed to bring back the greatness and welfare of Roman Empire. His vision has affected many of following rulers and vastly affected the architecture for decades. He attributed his power to monasteries and supported their construction. His palace become the role-model of the architectural movement that he put forward. The architect highly inspired by Byzantine and Roman works. There are clear architectural statements similar to the viaduct like gateway used for connecting Hagia Sophia to imperial palace in Constantinople. In the courtyard there are statues taken from Ravenna to regenerate the Roman spirit. As a significant piece of the palace, the Palatine Chapel designed to be a mausoleum for the emperor, is a two storied octagonal form that refers to San Vitale in Ravenna. Here we see  one of the first of the differentiation of black and white voussoir used for arches resembling those in the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
The imperial chapel’s two towers “monumental thresholds”  indicate that it didn’t stayed behind the often use of westworks (twin towered facade) that were shining out those times served mostly for a throne room for the emperor.One another westwork, Abbey of Lorsch offers a loaded examples of the Carolingian reinterpretation of ancient styles through it’s similarity to a triumphal arch both as its function and structure. There are some other attempts like the red and white sandstone panels rotated into a diamond shape on the facade.
The grid plan of the church of St.Gall is made of sixteen units illustrates the theoretical balance of the devotional life of prayer into equally divided spaces for monastic duties, agriculture and hospitality. It has a double-ender plan like the one seen in Charlemagne’s palace and proposing a two freestanding towers for its westwork. The arcaded cloister of the church represented the heart of the whole composition as serving to the main need of monks and being the central void which gathers other spaces around.
The architect of the Cluny III complex was a retired musician renowned as a musician and thus a master of proportions. The hyposytle hall church of the complex has a strong axiality. A square steeple rose over the crossing part of the church and octagonal tower studded the crossing of the second transept, creating a spiky, crown like profile. It’s nave was enclosed with pointed barrel vault nave.

Cistercians took attention with their modest style. The designers rejected decoration, relying on bare structure for their aesthetic pleasure. St.Augustine’s perfect ration of 1/2 controlled the elevations and ground plan:the width of the nave doubled that of the side aisles. They avoided monumental facades and only a simple bell tower rose over the apse. They eliminated the galleries above the side aisles and gave the windows clear panes instead of stained glass and constructed everything with smooth stones and vaulted ceilings.

The Norman Invasions: An Architectural Cross-Fertilization

Unlike their earlier role as destroyers of the monasteries, they became the most enthusiastic sponsors for rebuilding them since they founded it to reinforce their territorial control. The church of St. Etienne ‘s facade articulated with four thick buttresses with twin towers. The nave ad the aisles of the church displayed one of the first uses of ribbed groin vaults which later became an important element of Gothic architecture.
Normans built stone catles known as donjons. La Falaise one of the first stone donjons has a square solid volume with buttressed walls. Its boxy form gained a bit of eccentric diversity through the position of chapel, the apse of which protrudes from the south eastern corner.
Norman’s most ambitious commission of the Durham cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world. Like, St. Etienne it had a twin tower facade and ribbed vaults.
They later extended their borders a lot that the Muslim dominated city of Palermo became the capital of the kingdom. They transformed their alcazar into their new palace using a mixture of Arab and Byzantine styles with Byzantine mosaics next to cupolas with Arab inspired muqarnas. The most compelling case of Norman style appeared at the Abbey of Monreale. The entry facade had twin towers with a timber ceilinged interior resembling the early Christian basilicas. Classically proportioned Corinthian columns that carried Islamic inspired pointed arches showed the integration of cultures during the reign of Normans.

The Crusades: The Architectural Consequences of Christianity’s Holy War

Keeping the christian pilgrims in safe became a crucial reason of launching the crusades under the control of papal and royal supervision. They invaded the lands of Syria and Palastine to reclaim the land of Christ’s birth and sacrifice. This colonial adventure made the European cultures adopt an international perspective geared to conflict with non-Christians.  The castle building technology improved through the encounter between East and West. The tall and rectangular forms of European castles started to become rounded battlements.  In Pulgia, the Castle Del Monte appeared like a crown an octagonal prism with eight octagonal towers in such a sophistication resembling those of Hadrian.  Besides the indirect approaches within the structure similar to Arabic houses reveals the interaction in architecture that crusades generated.

Author: Nilay Karaköy

Hi everyone! This is Nilay Karaköy, a freshman arcitecture student in TED University. I am deeply into photography, drawing, watercolor, cooking and K-drama

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