Brugge Belgium Architecture
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Gothic and Renaissance Architecture

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Gothic Art and Architecture

Religious and secular buildings, sculpture, stained glass, and illuminated manuscripts and other decorative arts produced in Europe during the latter part of the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century). Gothic art began to be produced in France about 1140, spreading to the rest of Europe during the following century. The Gothic Age ended with the advent of the Renaissance in Italy about the beginning of the 15th century, although Gothic art and architecture continued in the rest of Europe through most of the 15th century, and in some regions of northern Europe into the 16th century. Originally the word Gothic was used by Italian Renaissance writers as a derogatory term for all art and architecture of the Middle Ages, which they regarded as comparable to the works of barbarian Goths. Since then the term Gothic has been restricted to the last major medieval period, immediately following the Romanesque (see Romanesque Art and Architecture). The Gothic Age is now considered one of Europe’s outstanding artistic eras.

Architecture was the dominant expression of the Gothic Age. Emerging in the first half of the 12th century from Romanesque antecedents, Gothic architecture continued well into the 16th century in northern Europe, long after the other arts had embraced the Renaissance. Although a vast number of secular monuments were built in the Gothic style, it was in the service of the church, the most prolific builder of the Middle Ages, that the new architecture evolved and attained its fullest realization.

The aesthetic qualities of Gothic architecture depend on a structural development: the ribbed vault (see Arch and Vault). Medieval churches had solid stone vaults (the structure that supports the ceiling or roof). These were extremely heavy structures and tended to push the walls outward, which could lead to the collapse of the building. In turn, walls had to be heavy and thick enough to bear the weight of the stone vaults. Early in the 12th century, masons developed the ribbed vault, which consists of thin arches of stone, running diagonally, transversely, and longitudinally. The new vault, which was thinner, lighter, and more versatile, allowed a number of architectural developments to take place.

Although the earliest Gothic churches assumed a wide variety of forms, the creation of a series of large cathedrals in northern France, beginning in the second half of the 12th century, took full advantage of the new Gothic vault. The architects of the cathedrals found that, since the outward thrusts of the vaults were concentrated in the small areas at the springing of the ribs and were also deflected downward by the pointed arches, the pressure could be counteracted readily by narrow buttresses and by external arches, called flying buttresses. Consequently, the thick walls of Romanesque architecture could be largely replaced by thinner walls with glass windows, and the interiors could reach unprecedented heights. A revolution in building techniques thus occurred.

With the Gothic vault, a ground plan could take on a variety of shapes. The general plan of the cathedrals, however, consisting of a long three-aisled nave intercepted by a transept and followed by a shorter choir and sanctuary, differs little from that of Romanesque churches. The cathedrals also retained and expanded the loveliest creation of French Romanesque architecture, the chevet—the complex of forms at the east end of the church that includes the semicircular aisle known as the ambulatory, the chapels that radiate from it, and the lofty polygonal apse encircling the end of the sanctuary. The major divisions of the interior elevation of the Gothic nave and choir are likewise derived from Romanesque precedents. On the other hand, the tall attenuated piers of the ground-story arcade, the pencil-thin vaulting shafts rising through the clerestory to the springing of the ribs, and the use of the pointed arch throughout the whole edifice all contribute to those unique soaring effects that constitute Gothic architecture’s most dynamic expression.

With the exception of the western facade, the exterior of the Gothic cathedral, with its towering buttresses and batteries of winglike fliers, is essentially an exoskeleton designed for the support of the vaults. The west front, on the other hand, was independently composed. The large parallelogram of the Gothic harmonic facade, surmounted by twin towers, reiterates in its triple portals and in its threefold vertical divisions the three aisles of the interior, and the large rose window above the central portal provides a magnified focus for the whole design.


19aug01014.jpg (12114 bytes) Side picture of Kruispoort Gate (1402)
There are holes, and window around the round structures for either shooting arrow, crossbows, or other weapons.

They post, or person watching the gate could look out the windows, and monitor the visitors to the city.

Normal modern street in Brugge with Belfry at the end. 14aug01016.jpg (17249 bytes)
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St. Saviors Cathedral

The Provincial Palace 14aug01025.jpg (16274 bytes)
14aug01037.jpg (17631 bytes) On the Market Square
Provincial Palace 14aug01029.jpg (15430 bytes)
14aug01063.jpg (14442 bytes) Back of St. Saviors Cathedral
Provincial Palace 14aug01040.jpg (15108 bytes)
14aug01064.jpg (15441 bytes) St. Saviors Cathedral
Scroll on Arch of Entrance to Building 14aug01065.jpg (16589 bytes)
14aug01067.jpg (18026 bytes) Steep roof peaks and red clay tiles are normal in Brugge.
This building is on a point. It is a trapezoid.
The normal stepped front facade.
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Ivy covered Turret 14aug01073.jpg (16454 bytes)
14aug01075.jpg (15913 bytes) Near the Honor Room
Stepped brick facade, and turret 14aug01079.jpg (12724 bytes)
14aug01088.jpg (21814 bytes) Arch near Gruuthuse Museum
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Belfry 15aug01070.jpg (10263 bytes)
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