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Q: how to describe these 6 churches ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: how to describe these 6 churches
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: tracy_0224-ga
List Price: $80.00
Posted: 19 Dec 2002 03:33 PST
Expires: 18 Jan 2003 03:33 PST
Question ID: 126834
there are 6 churches...could you detail the church's style, feature,
and describe all 6 churches

1. Plan and view of basilica of Old St. Peter's Rome. C 320
2. Church of St. Michael's Hildesheim (Germany) c.1001-31
3. St. Sernin, Toulouse, France. C 1080-1120
4. Chartres, Cathedral of Notre Dame 1145-70, including the west
5. Paris, Cathedral of Notre Dame,c.1163-1250: Facade, nave with
   buttressed and plan
6. Reims Cathedral: Central Portal, with detail of sculptural group,
   Visitation," C 1125-90
Subject: Re: how to describe these 6 churches
Answered By: lot-ga on 19 Dec 2002 16:36 PST
Hello tracy_0224-ga

I have detailed below some descriptive feature text and visual style
references for the churches listed:

> Plan and view of basilica of Old St. Peter's Rome. C 320

Constantine architecture drew references from domestic architecture
(the atrium house), the imperial audience hall, and the Roman
basilica, which resulted in a form of church that is the ancestor  to
the Gothic cathedrals. This church architecture is called a basilica +
 and one of the most influential of these was Old St Peter's in Rome

"A five-aisled basilica with a transept at the western end. St.
Peter's tomb located on the chord of the apse. Originally the main
portion of the building served as a cemetery basilica, while the
transept functioned as a martyrium, allowing pilgrims access to the
tomb. By the end of the fourth century, St. Peter's had been
transformed into a parish church. Total length: 400 ft."
View of the basilica
Another view
[original] Plan of the basilica

"Focus of the entire complex--the shrine over the Tomb of St. Peter;
situated on the cord of the apse. Elements derived from imperial
- transept (cf. imperial audience hall at Luxor, Egypt; remodelled
under Emperor Diocletian, c. 300)
- apse (with its mosaic decoration (cf. imperial cult statue of
Constantine in Basilica Nova)
- ciborium, or baldachin, a canopy supported by four columns over the
shrine of St. Peter (derived from ciboria placed over imperial
thrones, symbolizing the heavenly canopy; cf. imperial audience hall
at Luxor, ca.300).
- triumphal arch, the arch separating the space of the nave from the
transept (derived from imperial triumphal arches; cf. Rome--Arch of
Titus, c. 80, with the apotheosis of the Emperor depicted on the
soffit of the arch).
...Functional problems resulting from the original placement of the
shrine became apparent as soon as the church began to be used for
daily services."

Plan view with some c.400 CE additions
Another plan view with English annotations
Reconstruction c.400 CE showing site of pagan cemetery (2C CE), the
Tropaion Petri (after c. 160 CE), and the apse of Old St. Peter's
Basilica (c. 320 CE)
'Christian Worship Architecture and Environments c. 300 - 400 CE:
Rome: Old St. Peter's Basilica on the Vatican (c. 333 - 500 CE)'

'Arts and Values - Rome and the Emergence of Christianity'
This details the style of the architecture the importance of the
building with additional drawings with and description of the

> Church of St. Michael's Hildesheim (Germany) c.1001-31

This Romaneque period is summed up by this excerpt:
"The architects of the Romanesque period must have been real geniuses.
Without the aid of technical equipment and computers for calculating
structural engineering, just using human power and spirit alone, from
the early Middle Ages they managed to construct huge buildings which,
with their enormous dimensions, overshadowed everything that came
before. Their creations were made all the more remarkable by their
immense walls, well-fortified towers and clearly structured interior
Yet it is not just the sheer size that has fascinated us for over 1000
years. It is also the revolutionary way in which they solved
architectural problems. It is true that the square and the cube formed
the basic elements of Romanesque architecture, nevertheless there was
a great desire to master the construction of the arch.
Thus the rounded arches of gates, windows and arcades are typical of
the Romanesque period. However the major breakthrough came when the
architects learned how to stretch one continuous stone vault arch
across monumental church transepts, replacing the hitherto used flat
wooden roofs."
'The Romaneque Period had everything covered'

St. Michael's is viewed as one of the more outstanding pieces of this
style using square schematism, excerpt:
"The Benedictine Monastery of St. Michael, founded by Bishop Bernward,
belonged to the reformed monasteries of the Empire. The monks in these
monasteries strove to live a renewed monastic life in an exemplary
manner. The first monks arrived around the year 1000 A. D. The
monastery church, erected from approx. 1010 onward, is one of the key
works of medieval architecture. It is a double-choir basilica with two
The west choir is emphasized by an ambulatory and a crypt. The
interior of the church is characterized by strict monumentality and
sobriety. The rhythm of its nave arcades results from the so-called
niedersächsischer Stützenwechsel ("Lower-Saxon alternation of
supports": column - column - pillar), which became characteristic for
the Romanesque period in the Duchy of Saxony.
St Michael's was also ground-breaking in the development of the
so-called "square schematism", in the case of which the square of the
transept crossing in the ground plan constitutes the key.
In 1186 Bishop Adelog re-consecrated the church. Some parts had been
damaged by a fire, so that a certain amount of repairs were necessary:
the columns of the middle nave received new capitals with figured and
floral motifs. The walls of the aisles were decorated with stucco
reliefs, among which the depictions of the Beatitudes in the south
aisle have been preserved in part to this day.
As early as 1150, a synod had permitted regional veneration of
Bernward, the founder of the monastery. His official canonization in
1192 led to extensive structural renovation. The crypt with Bishop
Bernward's grave was remodeled, along with the entire west choir. In
this context the stucco reliefs of the choir screen were created, the
northern part of which has been preserved until today. The reliefs
show the Mother of God, surrounded by the Apostles and Saints Bernward
and Benedict."
'St. Michael, the Hornemann Institute

View, plan and section at
Excerpt "St. Michael's illustrates the three characteristics of square
schematism: nave and transepts of the same width, a fixed relationship
between length and width throughout the church, and columns and piers
of the nave move in rhythmic alignment. St. Michael's is also known as
a "double-ender", with two apses and two transepts. This design
allowed the choir and celebrant to sit on opposite ends of the church,
enveloping the worshipers. Entry to the church was through four doors
in the nave, a marked deemphasis on entry compared to other Romanesque
churches. Another different characteristic was the block-like column
capitals that conveyed the solidity of Roman architecture without
adhering to the classical orders. Also important is the bronzework on
the portals, marking the transitional space from exterior to

Exterior view from (1996)
Interior view (1996)
Large plan view from

> St. Sernin, Toulouse, France. C 1080-1120

Romanesque style of architecture
"Saint-Sernin, Toulouse: In its general features, the plan is similar
to other pilgrimage churches such as Ste.-Foy in Conques, St.- Martial
in Limoges, St.-Martin in Tours, and St.-James in Santiago de
Compostela. A cruciform plan, includes a five-aisled nave with a
central vessel and two side aisles on each side (perhaps based on Old
Saint Peters or Cluny III). A strongly projecting transept is also
aisled with two chapels off the eastern side of each arm. To the east
of the transept is the choir that includes an ambulatory and five
radiating chapels. The aisles in the nave, transept, and choir
(ambulatory) permit the pilgrim to circumambulate the entire church
without entering the central vessel. The eastern portions of the choir
are constructed above a crypt. Because of the more complex arrangement
of spaces, the portion east of the transept in the Romanesque period
is referred to as the choir rather than apse, the term used to
describe the semicircular space east of an Early Christian or
Byzantine transept or nave. The transept crossing piers and western
nave piers are enlarged to support towers. Portals are found on the
transept terminals (the Porte Royale and the Porte des Comptes); the
eighth bay of the nave (the Porte Miègeville), and the western
entrance. Regular rectangular bays form the length of the nave,
transept and choir and the plan proportions (the square bays of the
aisles and the rectangular bays of the central vessel) are based on
square schematism derived from the square of the transept crossing.
Square schematism results in great regularity and harmony of spatial
proportions. (Note: In a good ground plan dotted or broken lines
usually indicated groin vaults whereas a solid line indicates ribbed
and plans at
and plans at (large 650k image)
Architectural details at's 'A Digital Archive of Architecture'
Further plan and elevational views at
Architectural details

St. Sernin at Toulouse is used as a reference building for Romanesque
architecture here at

Large image from

> Chartres, Cathedral of Notre Dame 1145-70, including the west

From Romanesque to Gothic in style, excerpt:
"The fifth cathedral to be built in Chartres was a Romanesque building
built in the early 12th century. The church at Chartres was rebuilt
and greatly enlarged after a fire destroyed all but the west façade in
1194. After the fire they discovered that the Virgin's dress had
survived the fire, sure proof of it's holiness, they decided to
rebuild once again. The main structure of the church was substantially
finished by 1220, and it was dedicated in 1260 to the French Royal
Family. During the mid-thirteenth century the cathedral was rebuilt
incorporating the new Gothic Style. This cathedral is considered to be
the starting point of the 'High Gothic' style of architecture in
France. There is a difference in the spires on the western façade
because the one on the left was built in 1507 in a new gothic style,
whereas the one on the right was constructed during a simple gothic
period... The Romanesque builders were never able to attain such
monumental heights because of the semicircular arches and vaulting
methods. It was because of two new advancements in engineering that
allowed the Gothic builders to achieve greater height, the
introduction of the oblong bay and the pointed structural arches. By
substituting oblong individually vaulted bays for square ones the
width of each one was considerably reduced. These new 'four-part
ribbed groin vault with pointed arches' were not only lighter and
easier to build, but they also could be raised too much greater
heights. The flying buttresses were the only real structural advances
in Gothic Architecture both the oblong vault and the pointed arches
were both used in Romanesque buildings although without full
realization of their structural ability. It was with this new
understanding of supports that the Gothic builders were able to
incorporate the new styles that perceived in the new Gothic Cathedrals
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries."
'Chartres Cathedral'

Chartres Cathedral technical details at

Article detailing the buttresses, vaulting and the resulting space and
'The architecture of Notre-Dame of Chartres: the victory over

Large plan from the site
The great rose window
Detail of window
Vaulting in the nave

Large image from
West front, north portal from
West front, jambs
West front, central portal
West front, south portal
South transcept, central portal
South transcept, jamb statues
North side and north transcept central portal
North transcept side tympana

Image gallery including the west facade (
), elevational views and plan at

> Paris, Cathedral of Notre Dame, c.1163-1250: Facade, nave with
flying buttressed and plan

"Paris -- Cathedral (Notre-Dame) The largest of the Early Gothic
cathedrals. Located on the Ile-de-la-Cite, the nucleus of Paris. Begun
in 1163. The old church on the site was demolished along with many
surrounding buildings including a portion of the Gallo-Roman city
wall. The choir was finished by 1182. The second architect completed
the nave except for the westernmost bay, 1178-90's. Bishop Maurice-de-
Sully, under whose auspices the church was being built, died in 1196.
The third architect finished the westernmost bay of the nave by 1200.
The west facade was finished during the first half of the 13th
century. Subsequent changes and additions; enlargement of clearstory
windows (1225 ff.), addition of chapels between buttresses along side
aisles (1230's), extension of the north transept wing (1246-57),
extension of the south transept wing (1258-61), addition of the
chapels between choir buttresses (1270's), Soufflot's remodeling of
the main portal (1771), damage to the west facade during the
Revolution (1793), and restoration by Viollet-le-Duc (1845-ca. 1863).
Inner length of the church is 402 ft. The nave is 108 ft high; 41 ft
wide, and is covered by sexpartite ribbed vaults. First known flying
buttresses were used in the original construction of the nave."
'V. FRANCE -- EARLY GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE (ca. 1130 -- ca. 1200)'

Notre Dame de Paris technical details at

History overview at
This details the features on the west facade (with photograph), the
west towers with their unique square shape, the parapet, abode of
gargoyles and quasimodo, the west rose window that glorifies the
statue of the virgin, the gallery of Kings and the three portals,
virgin, judgement and sainte-Anne.

Excerpt highlighting features:
"Construction of the cathedral was done in three stages. The first
parts of the structure to be completed were the choir, apse, and
chancel. After the completion of these spaces the building could
continue to be used throughout the construction.
The breadth and height of the vaults in Notre Dame surpassed any
buildings that had been built. The innovative structural techniques
allowed for more light and space. One of the important innovations was
the combination of triangular ribs and transverse arches. These
elements were primarily hidden unlike the exposed and intrusive
elements that existed previously in the Romanesque period. The flying
buttresses used in Notre Dame are considered some of the earliest in
existence; however there have recently been discovered similar
buttresses that are from an earlier time period.
...It took twenty-five years to complete the façade up to the rose
window and yet and twenty-five years to complete the two towers. Other
than the west façade the structure remained true to the original
The façade of the cathedral is a careful balance of vertical and
horizontal elements. This gives the exterior stability that has lead
to it being remembered as quintessentially Early Gothic. The grid
created by the horizontal and vertical balance accentuates the stained
glass rosettes. In order to allow for more light to enter the space
the windows were enlarged and lowered. The plan contains a five-aisled
structure containing a Romanesque bay system combined with Early
Gothic nave vaulting."
'Notre-Dame Cathedral' by ArtSchoolGirl,

History at

Images from with descriptions of the features.
Flying buttresses

Details of various architectural details at

Main facade photo from
Nave photo from
Nave photo from
Side isle and vaulting
( from

Plans and drawings of west facade, north and south side, east end,
interior nave, north and south transcepts from

Interior from archiseek

> Reims Cathedral: Central Portal, with detail of sculptural group,
"The Visitation," C 1125-90c

"Cathedral Notre-Dame of Reims, the matured Gothic stule in Champagne,
is located about 130m west of Paris.
The original cathedral of Romanesque style was burned in 1210.
An architect Jean d'Orbais started to make a plan in 1211 and to
construct the choir. Work was interrupted in 1233 and the choir was
completed in 1241.
The construction of western facade was started in 1252 but the actual
facade was not completed until 15th century.
The length of the nave is longer than other cathedrals such as
Chartres and Amian. The total length of the nave and choir is 139m.
The width of the nave is 13m and the height of the nave is 35m.
There were to have been seven towers, two of western facade, two on
each arm of the transept, and one at the crossing, but the only two of
western facade was completed. The construction of the towers started
in about 1400 and completed in 1445, 1475."
'Cathedral, Reims No.1'

Reims Cathedral technical details at
( Visitation group )

Descriptive images, elevations and plans at

Other architectural detail images at
High resolution close up images of west facade sculptures at,102

Plans and drawings of west facade, north, south side, east end and
interior at

West facade, central portal: Visitation detail at
West facade, central portal: The Annunciation detail

Useful Links:

Search Strategy:
Google search string -
architecture OR architectural basilica Old St. OR saint Peter's OR
"peters" Rome
Google search string - 
architecture OR architectural St. OR saint Michael's Hildesheim
Google search string
architecture OR architectural St. OR saint Sernin Toulouse
Google search string - 
architecture OR architectural Chartres Cathedral  Notre Dame
Google search string
architecture OR architectural paris Cathedral  Notre Dame
Google search string -
architecture OR architectural Reims Cathedral
Google search string -
architecture OR architectural Visitation Reims Cathedral

I hope that helps.
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