Week 7: Jackie Hirai

Gothic style is very interesting. The name makes it sound like the art and architecture should be associated with leaving people feeling dark and gloomy, but it is actually the opposite. The goal of gothic artists and architects works was to provide a light and positivity to the viewer. Gothic architecture went from the 12th-16thcentury (Gothic Architecture, 2017). The type of buildings commonly created during this time were considered masonry, which is “characterized by cavernous spaces with the expanse of walls broken up by overlaid tracery” (Gothic Architecture, 2017). Cathedrals usually took generations to finish, which is why people constructing them did not have the hope of seeing them fully done before they would die. What drove medieval architects to build Gothic cathedrals was their faith. The buildings acted as a reflection of their faith. They were an outlet for people during the Middle Ages for their inventive drive.


Commonly, cathedrals were financially supported by religious leaders or establishments as well as the communities of where the building were being built. The Church enticed people to support their construction projects by saying that if they did, their sins would be forgiven (Gimpel, 1993). Some people did not like the idea of using money to build these expensive cathedrals, but majority were in favor of the construction. People loved the cathedrals and how they represent the Lord’s power and magnificence (Gimpel, 1993).

I enjoyed learning about the Gothic architecture. I love the appearance of gothic cathedrals with their pointed arches. It is thought that the pointed arches, “were likely borrowed from Islamic architecture that would have been seen in Spain at this time” (Spanswick, 2014). Along with providing structural interest, the arches were made to help take on some of the weight that was on the other areas of the building. This is why the columns also known as piers were made skinnier while still being able to hold up the arch. The thinner columns are another unique feature of this era of buildings. I like how they decided to keep this idea of slender columns throughout both levels of the cathedrals. It gives the interior a more cohesive appearance. These columns continue until they join and mesh into the structure of the ribbed vault. The ribbed details of the vault looked like webbing on the roof of the churches called tierceron, which is yet another element that was distinct for this era of cathedrals (Spanswick, 2014).


Stonework became more elaborate with gothic architecture. They used the idea called tracery along with borders of the windows (Spanswick, 2014). The windows were made bigger due to there being smaller columns. This allowed for some natural light to shine through the stained-glass windows. The ideas that Gothic architecture is known for is the amount of detail they have in their cathedrals. Their buildings are heavily decorated. By the end of this era of Gothic architecture, nearly all the surfaces of the buildings are covered in décor. I love how it seems like there are endless details to view in these cathedrals.

I was able to see two amazing Gothic cathedrals while in Milan and Florence. After researching more about this era of architecture, I have become more aware of the what elements of these buildings’ structure makes them Gothic. The pointed arches, stained-glass windows, slender columns, and crazy amount of decorations on these buildings helps to create two beautiful gothic masterpieces.

Here are some of my pictures of the cathedrals I saw in Italy:


Gimpel, J. (1993). Cathedral Building in the Middle Ages. Retrieved July 14, 2018, fromhttps://www.durhamworldheritagesite.com/architecture/cathedral/construction

Gothic Architecture. (2017, November 09). Retrieved July 14, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/art/Gothic-architecture

Spanswick, V. (2014). Gothic architecture: An introduction. Retrieved July 14, 2018, from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/medieval-world/gothic1/a/gothic-architecture-an-introduction

3 thoughts on “Week 7: Jackie Hirai”

  1. These Gothic cathedrals really are stunning and it is so cool that you were able to see them when you were in Italy! The level of detail and decor that you were talking about really do make these cathedrals so spectacular. It is interesting how money was used to pay off sin and to build these cathedrals, but these cathedrals also spurred and grew the economy. It looks like something with an ulterior motive turned out to do something good! You had really great information in your post!


  2. Jackie, I love the photos you took from your juniors abroad trip! Do you remember what were the names of the cathedrals? I agree with you that when I first heard Gothic style, I thought of dark, grungy styled art. But the style of art used in these cathedrals are so amazingly detailed. I think it’s so interesting that cathedrals look the same, but there are so many differences, especially in the arch styles that they use.


    1. Both of the cathedrals are just named from the placed they are located I believe. The cathedral that is the biggest in the collage is the Milan Cathedral and the other one is the Florence Cathedral. The stained-glass windows/gold goddess statue are from the Milan Cathedral.


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