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Romanesque Period Art History

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My favorite medium of art has always been architecture. Perhaps this is because it is the medium most accessible. A famous building cannot be hidden away in a private collection never to be seen by the general public but is instead to be enjoyed by all of those are lucky enough to pass by. Even if only enjoyed from the outside. I also love that architecture serves a greater purpose. These building contain corporations, warehouses, places of worship and homes. They provide security and shelter to those inside. They promote innovation and make a statement about their time, location and inhabitants. For these reasons I have decided to discuss the architecture of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in this essay.

Art in the Romanesque period, the 11th and 12th centuries, was dominated by the construction of churches all over Western Europe. This was fueled by pilgrimages and the Crusades. While pilgrimages were very dangerous, the chance to visit the places where miracles occurred and see various relics, belonging to saints, was worth the risk to many (Stokstad, 2008, p.475). The three most holy destinations for the pilgrims were Rome, Christendom in Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela Spain (Stokstad, 2008, p.475). The Crusades was a war sanctioned by Pope Urban II against the Muslim people for control of Jerusalem (Stokstad, 2008, p.476). The success of this war promoted the spread of Christianity and therefore the need for Christian churches increased. The churches of the Romanesque period were similar to Carolingian churches but with some important changes. Transepts, apses, walkways and chapels were added to create a complex design that held large crowds and allowed for many alters (Stokstad, 2008, p.478). Dramatic rounded arches graced the ceilings and stone masonry was often used in construction to combat against fire from the candles used during service (Stokstad, 2008, p.478). The walls of Romanesque churches were heavy and allowed only for small windows in most cases. In comparison with Gothic exteriors, Romanesque churches, are very plain. Some of my favorite churches built during this time are The Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela (pg. 479), The Cathedral Complex of Pisa (pg. 486) and The Imperial Cathedral of Speyer (pg. 488).

The Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela is an important church because it was the final resting place of Saint James and therefore a major destination for pilgrims (Stokstad, 2008, p.479). The Cathedral was made from granite and built without doors as it was open to pilgrims at all hours (Stokstad, 2008, p.482). In typical Romanesque fashion each element of the Cathedral comes together to form one "powerful" building (Stokstad, 2008, p.48o). I chose this Cathedral specifically because of the importance to the pilgrims.

While I have seen all three Gothic churches I will be discussing, the Cathedral Complex of Pisa is the only Romanesque church I have had the pleasure of visiting in person. The complex consists of a beautiful cathedral designed by Busketos, a baptistery, a burial ground and the famous leaning bell tower. The complex was started in 1063, after defeating the Muslims over control for the Mediterranean, and built for the Virgin Mary (Stokstad, 2008, p.486). Like the Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral was built in the form of a crucifix with a long nave and projecting transepts. What makes the Cathedral Complex of Pisa different, from any other cathedral we will be discussing, is the exterior is covered in beautiful white and green marble (Stokstad, 2008, p.486).

The Imperial Cathedral of Speyer is the final Romanesque cathedral that I will be discussing. Built, from stone, in Germany, between 1030 and 1060, it is one of the largest cathedrals of the time (Stokstad, 2008, p.488). With a groin vault at the height of 100 feet compound piers were built for support (Stokstad, 2008, p.488). This unique design allowed windows to be added allowing natural light into the nave (Stokstad, 2008, p.489). I chose this cathedral

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