At the beginning of the 12th century, a new building style suddenly appeared in France and revolutionised the dark Middle Ages – the Gothic style.
Instead of the massive, dark and fortified structures of the Romanesque period, the building style of the Early Middle Ages, everywhere in Europe the masterpieces of this new filigree architecture, the cathedrals, appeared within a short period.
They were higher and larger than everything that had been built so far and yet appeared to be of a mystic lightness.
Their walls seemed to be dissolved in a sea of light and colour.
For about 300 years the cathedrals dominated the cities in Europe and their appearance fascinates still today.
But how was this sudden change of style at all possible? Where did the ideas for the new buildings come from? And what was the importance of the Gothic style for the people back then?
All architects face the problem of how to support the weight of a building with roof and masonry.
The Romanesque builders erected thick walls with few windows, which solidly carried the church roof.
However, if you wanted to build higher churches, the walls collapsed under their own weight and the weight of the roof.
The architects of the Gothic era hit upon the idea of distributing the weight of the roof and walls onto buttresses outside the edifice.
As the walls did not have to support so much weight anymore, they could be pierced with larger windows thus allowing more light to flood into the interior.