Pointed arches, ribbed vaults, flying buttresses. If those words get you excited, you might be a fan of Gothic architecture. No, I don’t mean spikey goggles and riveted boots (although I’m a fan of those too), I mean the greatest grand cathedrals in history; hundreds of them are spread across Europe ans were built from the 12th to 16th centuries. When the Romanesque movement gave way to Gothic architecture, church design became all about height and light. These behemoth structures were made from mountains of stone, but seemed to stretch up to Heaven itself. Here are some of my favorite gorgeous gothic cathedrals.
Notre-Dame de Reims, France
If you were a French king of the day, you were probably crowned in this 13th century cathedral.
Chartres Cathedral, France
One of the best-preserved cathedrals in the world, this 13th century building still has nearly all of the original stained-glass windows.
Seville Cathedral, Spain
This 16th century marvel replaced the Hagia Sophia as the world’s largest cathedral at the time of its completion. It is still the largest Gothic cathedral and third-largest church in the world.
Amiens Cathedral, France
Amiens is the tallest completed cathedral in France and one of the largest by interior volume.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Austria
Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, initiated this beloved cathedral on the site of two older churches in the 14th century. The diamond-patterned tile roof, was only added in 1952.
Basilica of Saint Denis, France
Considered the first Gothic cathedral, this church holds the tombs of all but three of the French kings.
Notre-Dame de Paris
The iconic Notre Dame in Paris was one of the first cathedrals to use flying buttresses (those arched ribs on the exterior) to support the massive weight of stone.
Santa Maria del Fiore, Italy
This Florence cathedral, better known as the Duomo, is famous for its unbelievable dome, built by Filippo Brunelleschi. Construction began in 1296 in teh Gothic style, but wasn’t completed until 1436. The multicolored facade wasn’t added until the late 1800s.
Westminster Abbey, London
This famously royal abbey was ordered by Henry III in 1245.
Heard any good tales lately? Featuring in Geoffery Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this church was where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered.
Milan Cathedral, Italy
Taking nearly 600 years to complete, the Milan Cathedral took nearly 600 years to complete and features numerous small pinnacles instead of the two towers traditional to most Gothic cathedrals.
Which one is your favorite?