Medieval architecture in the west encompasses a time period of some
1,000 years, from the decline of the Roman Empire to the advent of
the Renaissance, and a geographical expanse covering all of what is
now modern Europe. From the Early Christian basilicas of Rome begun
in the fourth century for the nascent community of Christian followers,
to the Byzantine structures of Constantinople, to early medieval architecture
under the Carolingian and Ottonian rulers in northern Europe, to the
Romanesque pilgrimage churches of southern France and Spain, to the
Gothic cathedrals of northern France, and, finally, to the small but
ornate Flamboyant churches of the 15th centuryall of this, and
much more, constitutes the history of medieval architecture.
Most medieval ecclesiastical buildings were richly decorated with
sculptural programs, especially on the exterior of the west façade,
and windows filled with stained glass in the clerestory. These decorative
cycles, usually depicting episodes from the Old and New Testament,
lives of the saints but also including secular subjects such as the
labors of the months or signs of the zodiac, are an integral element
of the aesthetic, spiritual and functional life of the building. As
such, when possible, we have tried to include images of the sculpture
and stained glass.
This digital monograph provides a collection of images and special
programs focused on individual buildings or themes designed to support
the process of learning about medieval architecture.
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