Church architecture


The word romanesque comes from the fact that this architectural style is based on Roman building techniques, particularly the rounded Roman arch which was visible in the ruins of the aqueducts and buildings left by the Roman empire:

In 312, the Emperor Constantine defeated his principal rival Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. In 313 he issued the Edict of Milan which granted religious toleration. Constantine's imperial sanction of Christianity transformed Christianity's status and nature. Rome would become Christian, and Christianity would take on the aura of imperial Rome. As other Roman emperors had built temples to their gods Constantine built churches in Rome including the Church of St. Peter St, S. Paolo Fuori le Mura, and S. Giovanni in Laterano; in the Holy Land, most notably the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and in his newly-constructed capital of Constantinople. 

Christian architecture emphasised the interior of the church against Grecoroman temples which served as treasuries and dwellings for the cult. Sacrifices occurred on outdoor altars with the temple as a backdrop. Christianity was a mystery religion which churches needed large interior spaces to house the congregations and mark the clear separation of the faithful from the unfaithful. At the same time, the new Christian churches to convey the new authority of Christianity. These factors were instrumental in the formulation during the Constantinian period of an architectural form that would become the core of western Christian architecture to our own time: the Christian Basilica. 

In the typical Early Christian basilica, the columns separating the nave from the side aisles carried arches, and above these was a blank wall supporting the timber roof of the nave. Because the nave rose considerably higher than the side aisles, the wall (clerestory) that supported the nave roof stood above the level of the side aisle roofs and could thus be pierced at the top with windows to light the centre of the church. The side aisles themselves were either single or double. The apse opened from the nave by a great arch known as the triumphal arch. At the entrance end a narthex extended the entire width of the nave and aisles. This vestibule was commonly fronted by a colonnade and, in many cases, opened onto a court surrounded by either colonnades or arcades. After the 10th century a bell tower was added.

Romulus Augustus was the last emperor of the western Roman empire. He was deposed in 476 by Odoacer, probably of Germanic ascendancy, and who then ruled Italy from his capital in Ravenna. The Western Roman empire at this date was divided up into tribal regions. (The date of 476 was popularized by the 18th-century British historian Edward Gibbon as a demarcating event for the end of the Western Empire and is sometimes used to mark the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages).

The architectural situation mirrored the political parcelling and only a few basilicas remained as inspirations to later builders. Several Constantinian churches stood in Rome and the 6th century Byzantine Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna which inspired the greatest building in Dark Ages Europe, the Palatine Chapel in Achen, constructed by Charlemagne in 800:

As Holy Roman emperor Charlemagne wanted to unite the divided tribes and so began building churches using the Roman style, in particular that of Constantine the first Christian emperor. The architectural model was the arched Roman system using stresses and butressing and based on the Roman basilica. This was a roofed public building in ancient Rome and pre-Christian Italy, markets, courthouses, covered promenades, and meeting halls. Gradually, however, the word became limited to buildings of a more or less definite form: rectangular walled structures with an open hall extending from end to end, usually flanked by side aisles set off by colonnades and with a raised platform at one or both ends. During the 1st century BC, when basilicas were increasingly used for judicial purposes, the raised platform became enclosed by an apse, or semicircular half-domed protrusion of the end wall, to accommodate the magistrate. It became an example throughout Europe for chapels and churches in the western Church. It gradually passed out of use in the Eastern Church, however, replaced by the radial plan on which the emperor Justinian I constructed the domed cathedral of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople (537).

The church became increasingly clericalized. With the rise of the monasteries church buildings changed as well. The 'two-room' church' became, in Europe, the norm. The first 'room', the nave, was used by the congregation; the second 'room', the sanctuary, was the preserve of the clergy and was where the Mass was celebrated. This could then only be seen from a distance by the congregation through the arch between the rooms (closed by a wooden partition, the Rood screen). From the twin principles that every priest must say his mass every day and that an altar could only be used once, in religious communities a number of altars were required for which space had to be found within monastic churches.

Apart from changes in the liturgy, the other major influence on church architecture was in the use of new materials and the development of new techniques. In northern Europe, early churches were often built of wood, for which reason almost none survive. With the wider use of stone by the Benedictine monks, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, larger structures were erected.

The two-room church, particularly if it were an abbey or a cathedral, might acquire transepts. These were effectively arms of the cross which now made up the ground plan of the building. The buildings became more clearly symbolic of what they were intended for. Sanctuaries, now providing for the singing of the offices by monks or canons, grew longer and became chancels, separated from the nave by a screen. Practical function and symbolism were both at work in the process of development.

Visigothic architecture is Christian and developed in the VII century.  Visigothic art is the product of the late Roman and paleochristian tradition with Byzantine influences. It is characterised by ashlar masonary placed without mortar, sometimes including brick. These are Roman techniques as is the preference the horseshoe arch. Columns and pillars are used as support. Floor plans are various: basilical, Greek cross or a combination. The vaults are half-barrel, groin or domed in the transepts. Light is scarce in the Visigothic churches with small openings in the nave and a larger one in the apse. There are geometric, vine, stars, animals, or floral elements as wall decorations. The ceilings would be guilded and marble from ancient Roman buildings used in the walls and columns.

Romanesque architecture


The Santa Cruz chapel in Cangues de Onis was built in 737 on a dolmen (and rebuilt twice years later).  It was probably the first church constructed in Spain by the Visigoths to establish Chalcedonian Christianity after the battle won against the Moors at Covadonga (718/722). It is regarded as the foundational event of the Kingdom of Asturias and the initial point of the Christian Reconquista of Spain. This was celebrated by the construction of romanesque churches on the conquered lands in Spain starting in the north and moving gradually south.

As court architecture, the situation of the first Asturian (pre)romanesque monuments followed the various locations of the kingdom's capital: moving from the original site in Cangas de Onís through Pravia to its final location in Oviedo the modern capital. 

The church in Santianes de Pravia (774-783) has a foundation stone recording its foundation by King Silo of Asturias. He was a contemporary of Charlemagne who maintained the Muslims occupied fighting Christian incursions over the Pyrenees down to Zaragoza, so Silo gradually conquered lands to Galicia in the west. 

The church already showed a number of elements anticipating Asturian Pre-Romanesque; eastward-facing, basilica ground plan (central nave and two side aisles), separated by three semicircular arches, transept facing the central nave with the same length as the width of the three aisles. It also had a single, semicircular apse, and an external entrance vestibule, with a wooden ceiling over the nave.

The Santianes temple was built in the Visigothic tradition formed by three naves separated by horeshoe arches without keystones. The arches have mixed rigging, ashlar at the start and Roman bricks in the central part. The transept with cruciform pillars opened onto three rectangular chapels. The apse was semicircular in shape, sloped inside with rectangular walls on the outside. (Two sacristies were built on its sides.) The central and side naves remain from the original construction. The rectangular body of the church was covered with wood and the apses with barrel vaults. The windows preserved today indicate that they were formed by simple and double horseshoe arches.

Oviedo was established as capital in the centre of the territory by Alfonso II (791–842). He built the church of San Salvador (of which only Camara Santa remains), and a royal palace in the capital. Alfonso also ruled over present-day Galicia to the west and he established a trade route through his kingdom by inaugurating the pilgrim way to Santiago of Compostela, where from 814 onwards it was said the saint's relics lay.

Alfonso also had constructed the (pre)romanesque church San Juan de los Prados (c.830).

The church follows a basilican plan: a nave and two aisles, square columns with semi-circular arches. It sports a high transept exceeding the central nave in height. The roof had an oaken ceiling carved with a variety of geometric designs. The building differs from the preceding Visigothic style in particular through its size: San Julián de los Prados is the largest of the pre-romanesque churches.

Ramiro I (842–850), continued Alfonso II's construction streak. He built a palace (842-850) and the San Miguel de Lillo church. When the San Miguel church later partially collapsed the Aula Regia of the palace became the Santa Maria del Naranco church:

The palace, on a rectangular ground plan, has two floors; the lower level, or crypt, quite low, has a central chamber and another two located on either side. The upper floor is accessed via a double exterior stairway adjoining the facade, leading into an identical layout as the lower floor; a central or noble hall with six blind semicircular arches along the walls, supported by columns built into the wall, and a mirador at each end. These are accessed via three arches, similar to those onto the wall, resting on columns with helicoidal rope moulding, typical of Pre-Romanesque. The barrel vault is made from tufa stone, and is held up by six transversal arches resting on consoles.

It is built from irregularly sized ashlar. On the long sides, buttresses are raised at the level of the inner arches. The short sides have three floors in the façade. The central one has three semi-circular arches that are pitched, with the central one being slightly larger. It gives a sensation of great verticality.

Architectural innovation in the church included its proportions and slender shapes, its rich decoration and especially the barrel vault stone roof supported by transversal arches instead of a wooden ceiling.  The rich decoration is concentrated in the hall and miradors of the upper floor, where it is especially worth noting the cubic-prismatic capitals of Byzantine influence, decorated with reliefs framed by cord decoration from local tradition. There are 32 medallions distributed around the building, similar in size and shape, varying the decorative designs, a style inherited from the Visigoth period, in turn descended from Byzantine tradition. Santa María del Naranco shows other, equally beautiful and important sculptural elements; for the first time, a Greek cross appears sculpted as emblem of the Asturian monarchy, something which was to become habitual in the popular architecture of towns and villages.


The Lombard kingdom lasted from 568 to 774. They had no native architectural tradition but relied on the survival of urban guilds after the fall of the Western Roman Empire (c. 470). Most Lombard architecture in northern Italy has not survived due to renovations and reconstructions.

In the Lombard capital, Pavia, the destroyed church of Santa Maria in Pertica had a typical Roman plan (octagonal with an ambulatory delimited by columns). However the high central body was a novelty. The Baptistery of San Giovanni ad Fontes in Lomello was also different from the usual Palaeo-Christian compactness in the use of a tall central octagon. The tradition that remained from Roman times was the Lombardian elite's commission of lay and religious buildings to demonstrate their prestige and legitimate their authority.

In the 7th and 8th centuries, Lombardian architecture evolved in an original direction, with increasing references to Classical architecture such as the Lombard Tempietto in Cividale del Friuli. The interior is composed of a square-plan, single chamber, with a spacious cross-vault, divided by pairs of columns in three parts covered in barrel vaults, which closes with a lower presbytery. It has a rich decoration made with sophisticated materials, frescoes, stucco, marble, mosaics, stone sculptures and a frieze in Byzantine style:

The Lombard Monastery of San Salvatore at Brescia also shows echoes of the contemporary architecture in Ravenna. 

The development of Lombard architecture in northern Italy was halted by the conquest of Charlemagne in 774 while in the south it followed original lines until the conquest by the Normans in the 11th century. This unity is shown by the most important Lombard edifice in what was Langobardia Minor, the church of Santa Sofia at Benevento: built in the 8th century, it follows the same pattern of Santa Maria in Pertica with an elevated central body, although including Byzantine elements such as the articulations of the volumes and the basic structure itself, perhaps inspired by Hagia Sophia at Constantinople.

Lombard Romanesque

This romanesque style originated in the north of Italy (known as Lombardy in the 9th. century). It spread into the south of France and Catalonia where Josep Puig i Cadafalch named it First Romanesque (primer romànic) instead of pre-Romanesque.

During the first part of the 11th century the style was promoted by groups made up of Lombard teachers and stonemasons (Comacine Guild), who worked throughout much of Europe. The decoration on the exterior is ornamental columns called Lombard bands. It was also characterized by thick walls blind arches and lack of sculpture in facades. The interiors were painted in a multitude of frescoes.

In Catalonia the promoter of this new art was Oliva, abbot of the monastery of Ripoll. In 1032 he extended the building with a facade and two towers together with a transept which had seven apses. They all had Lombardic blind arches and vertical bands on the exterior:

There are 9 First Romanesque churches in the Vall de Boí.


It was also in French Catalonia that the romanesque style first developed in southern France. The Sant Miquel de Cuixà Benedictine monastery was founded in 840, and then refounded at its present site in 878 after a flood. It was an important cultural centre in the regency of Abbot Oliba. It follows the basilica plan with a small transept and built of massive stones with little interior decoration.

The Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, founded in 909 by William of Aquitaine, was the center of a religious resugence. By the end of the 11th. century in France, there were 815 monasteries housing thousands of monks.

Cluny was the largest and most influential of the monasteries in France. The original Abbey was reconstructed, completed in 1130. The new church was 187 meters long with a double transept and five radiating chapels. The nave itself was covered with a vaulted ceiling 10.85 meters wide and 25 meters high. The elevation of the nave had three levels; the windows on the upper levels brought light into the interior. It was crowned by five towers, the largest over the crossing of grand transept, two on either side of the entrance and two on the arms of the transept. It was the biggest church in Europe until the reconstruction of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome in the 16th century.

At the beginning of the 11th. century Burgundy saw experiments with different types of vaulted ceilings. At first the reason was to avoid fires of the wooden roofs. One of the first examples was the Benedictine Abbey of  Saint-Philibert de Tournus, 30 km from Cluny. The nave was covered by transversal barrel vaults, perpendicular supported by rows of columns. The weight of the roof pressed down on the columns, not on the walls, This meant that the walls could be thinner, and could have larger windows, filling the church with more light, a typical feature of later Gothic buildings:

Near Dijon in eastern France a new order sprang up in 1098 founded by Benedictine  monks. Their aim was to follow more closely the Rule of Saint Benedict. At the end of the 12th century, the order had spread throughout what is today France, Germany, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

Cistercian architecture was simple and utilitarian. Some images of religious subjects were allowed, such as the crucifix, but elaborate figures common in medieval churches were prohibited. Early Cistercian architecture shows a transition between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. 

Cistertian buildings were made of smooth, pale, stone, where possible. Columns, pillars and windows fell at the same base level, and any plastering was extremely simple. The sanctuary kept a simple style of proportion of 1:2 at both elevation and floor levels. To maintain the appearance of ecclesiastical buildings, Cistercian sites were constructed in a pure, rational style.

The Cistertians contributed to the evolution of architecture from Romanesque to Gothic through their skills in metallurgy. Much of the progress of architecture depended on the mastery of metal, from its extraction to the cutting of the stone, especially in relation to the quality of the metal tools used in construction. Metal was also used extensively by Gothic architects from the 12th century onwards.

Britanny and Normandy

In Brittany the granite stone was very dense and too heavy for most roof structures so architects preferred to use wood instead of stone. One example is the ceiling of the Benedictine Abbey of Mont-Saint Michel which was founded in 966 and designed in a pre-Romanesque style that blended Mediterranean and Germanic elements. The following century, it was again rebuilt. This time, it adopted a Romanesque aesthetic characterized by shallow arches, vaulted ceilings, and small windows:

The use of wooden vaulted ceilings instead of stone allowed the construction of taller and longer churches; the nave of Saint-Melanie of Rennes is more than eighty meters long and ten meters high particularly at the crossing of the transept, the oldest part of the church. Romanesque churches in Normandy often featured narrow tribunes and wide bays, which gave greater space to the interior.

In Caen the construction of the two abbey churches saw the introduction of an important architectural innovation; a ceiling with an early form of rib vaults, used in both The Abbaye des Dames and the Abbaye des Hommes. The roof of the choir of the Abbaye des Dames was replaced in about 1120 by a rib vault among the earliest in France along with the very early experimental rib vaults at Vézelay Abbey and in Burgundy. It allowed a lighter and stronger roof, and which permitted larger windows at the high level. It was a predecessor of Gothic architecture.


The Norman William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 and took over the throne. Ten years later he decided to reorganise the Church establishment which was Anglo-Saxon. He appointed Lanfranc, a Benedictine abbot from Caen in Normandy, as the new archbishop of Canterbury. Cathedral Sees were moved from villages to towns and this led to the rebuilding of every Anglo-Saxon cathedral in the Romanesque style. Despite later remodelling of Canterbury Cathedral fragments of Lanfranc's Norman building remain. These are testimony to the massive sizes used in Norman constructions, not only in ecclesiastical buildings but also in military architecture.

When Lanfranc moved from to Canterbury, he brought Gundulf, a skilled builder who supervised the construction of the monastery in Caen and the rebuilding of Canterbury Cathedral as well as a castle at Rochester, the town cathedral and the building of the White Tower at the Tower of London. 

The “White Tower,” (1078-1100) was built using  white limestone imported from Caen in northwestern France as well as a local building material called Kentish ragstone. St.John's romanesque style chapel still remains today on the second floor of the Tower:

The Chapel is 32 feet high, and is vaulted with a plain arch. There are four massive columns on either side and four in the apse. Thick, round piers support simple unmoulded arches with carvings of scallop and leaf designs providing the only decoration.

The Ways to Santiago

Beginning in the last part of the 11th century, many romanesque churches in France and in northern Spain were built along the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela which Alfonso II of Asturias had inaugurated in the 9th century on the Primitive Way. With the fall of Jerusalem under Islamic rule, the route to Santiago de Compostela became one of the two most important pilgrimage routes in Europe along with St Peter's tomb in Rome.

The Original Way 

On the Camino Primitivo (Original Way) in Asturias there were pilgrim hospitals every few kilometres, a total of over 30, mainly "malaterias" (leproseries). Many Benedictine and Cistertian monasteries built in the Romanesque style also established themselves along the pilgrim route.

In Oviedo the Monastery of San Vicente was founded in 761. Only remnants of that first building have survived. However, the cloister (1530s-1570s) remains standing. The monastery followed the Benedictine rule and was built in the Romanesque style.

The San Martín monastery in Escamplero was founded well into the XIV century and served pilgrims until the XVIII cent. The Santa Maria de Valsera monastery in the next village coexisted with it.

In Cornellana the Benedictine monastery of San Salvador was founded in 1024. It consisted of several Romanesque-style buildings. In 1120 the inheritor gifted it to the abbey of Cluny.

The romanesque San Martín monastery in Salas dates from the 11th. century of which only 7 inscriptions and 5 windows remain as it was reformed in the 15th. and 17th. centuries. The inscriptions are prayers or describe the construction of the monastery and its relicaries. The 5th. window differs from the others and it probably dates from the first church.

The Cistertian monastery of Obona was built in the XIII century in romanesque style. It had depended on the Benedictine monastery of Corias in the previous century. The church is sober in decoration with three columned naves and three circular apses. It still retains a XII cent. romanesque crucifixion. The cloister is baroque. It was an important economic and cultural centre for farming and livestock methods and education in Latin, Philosophy and Theology. The oldest references to Asturian cider were found in this monastery. It offered help and shelter to pilgrims on their way to Santiago.

According to Patricia Argüelles in her study of the Roman road from Lucus Asturum to Lucus Augusti ("La vía romana Lucus Asturum-Lucus Augusti"). It was a trade route for transporting Asturian gold to ports like Gijón or the Atlantic coast in Galicia. The road link ran north of Oviedo, through Las Regueras, Grado, Salas, Tineo, Allande y Grandas de Salime continuing on to  Fonsagrada and down to Lugo. This is surprisingly similar to the route of the Original Way. Could Alfonso II in the 9th century have been following a previous Roman trade road?

After Fonsagrada the Camino Primitivo leads to Lugo and its romanesque cathedral founded in 1129 to replace the 8th. century building. Master craftsman Maestro Raimundo de Monforte built a late romanesque style church with three naves, a transept and three apses (later gothic in 14th. cent). The main nave is covered by a pointed barrel vault, the lateral ones with a barrel and groin vault. It has a clerestory with ogival windows, in Romanesque style and north door (protected by a Gothic porch). This Romanesque doorway has three semicircular archivolts on columns. The tympanum is bilobed with a central pendant as a capital that shows the scene of the Last Supper. In the middle of the tympanum there is a beautiful Pantocrator inscribed in its corresponding mandorla, the work of a master very close to that of Carrión de los Condes.

The Original Way joins the French Way in Melide.


Codex Calixtinus

The Codex Calixtinus (also Compostellus) is the for the 12th-century guidebook in 5 chapters for the French Way. It is attributed to Pope Callixtus II and its principal compilator is referred to as "Pseudo-Callixtus", identified with French monk and pilgrim scholar Aymeric Picaud. Its most likely date of compilation is the period of 1138–1145.

It is intended as an anthology of background detail and advice for pilgrims following the Way of St. James. It includes sermons, reports of miracles and liturgical texts associated with Saint James, and a set of polyphonic musical pìeces. It also contains descriptions of the pilgrimage route, works of art to be seen along the way, and the customs of the local people in book V.

It is made up of five books and two appendices:

Book 1 contains information about Catholic liturgies. 

Book 2 is known as he Book of Miracles.

Book 3 explains the legend of the transfer of the Apostle's corpse to Compostella. 

Book 4 discusses the accomplishments of the French King Charlemagne. 

Book 5 is a guide for the pilgrims who want to follow the French Way to the apostle's tomb.

Roncesvalles was a gateway to the Iberian Peninsula from France where the Romans traced the way connecting Bordeaux with Astorga. This route was used by the Celts, Goths, and the Moors centuries after its creation. It is very similar to the route followed by pilgrims on their way to Santiago.

The monastery complex offers several fascinating structures including 13th-century Colegiata de Santa María. The Collegiate is an excellent example of Navarran Gothic architecture and features the famous Virgin Mary of Roncesvalles, a wooden carving in a silver coating. According to legend, she miraculously appeared after a sighting of a stag in whose antlers shone two stars.

Next, there is the chapel of St. Augustine which guards the tomb of Navarrese King Sancho VII ‘el Fuerte’ in its center. King Sancho VII was, reportedly, tall 2.25m and fought against the Muslims in the famous Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 which is also depicted on the vitrages on the windows of the chapel.

Roncesvalles the oldest building in the compound is the Romanesque chapel of Sancti Spiritus (also known as Charlemagne’s Silo). It stands over a crypt with a vaulted ceiling and legend has it this is where Roland pierced himself after his defeat.

The Monastery of Santa María de Villanueva de Oscos was founded in the 1182 as a Benedictine house and later Cistertian. It has been reformed several times.

The  monastery of San Julián is in Samos. It was founded in the VI cent. It was incorporated into the Benedictine order in the XII cent. under the Cluny reformation.

It sports a Romanesque cloister door with two archivolts on columns topped with capitals on whose tympanum appears a cross. Thus is superimposed on a circular clypeus, an ornamental formula recurrent in Galician Romanesque.

In Sarria the romanesque church of El Salvador stands by the Camino. Its masonary is ashlar granite, typical of romanesque constructions, with a semicircular apse and two doors. The north door tympanum displays a crowned Christ in the act of blessing accompanied by two six-leaf trees topped by Greek crosses.

Barbadelo had a mixed monastery of women and men in the 11th. century. It was the priory of the Samos abbey. The nave and tower were romanesque. The sanctuary has disappeared  The western door has two flat archivolts surrounded by a checkered chambrane, with a tympanum on a lintel. It shows a character with open arms among stars on a set of interlocking rosettes. On the north wall there is another simpler doorway and two large windows.

In Vilar de Donas the feminine San Salvador monastery church (1224) remains.  It later came under the Order of Santiago who used it as a cemetery for their knights. It has a single nave, transept and sanctuary with three apses. The principal apse is unusually large and may date from before the  rest of the temple. 

The door of the Vilar de Donas Monastery has five semicircular archivolts highly decorated with all kinds of motifs: palmettes, zigzags, etc.

The western wall has the remains of a large porch.

The St. Nicolas church in Portomarin (end XII cent) was built by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem inspired in the architecture of Mateo who built the Santiago cathedral. The Order had had a hospital in the town for a century since it was a strategic location due to having the only bridge over the Miño river between eastern and western Galicia.

It has high walls topped by battlements giving it an almost military aspect. It has big rose windows on the apse and western wall. These are architectural advances show the transition between romanesque and gothic in which the church was terminated. It has three porches which are decorated with romanesque  sculptures.

Inside there is one high rectangular nave supported on 5 slightly pointed transverse arches that rest on attached columns. Each of the five sections of the nave coincides with the exterior of the north and south walls with the recessed blind discharge arches that camouflage the buttresses and, in turn, allow windows through which light shines into the inside.

Contrary to what is usual in rural Galician Romanesque, which commonly uses wooden roofs for the naves, in San Nicolás there is a vaulted roof, an architectural challenge given the height and breadth of the the nave. Each section is reinforced with an intermediate transverse arch propped up on corbels that gives the nave an effect of visual continuity towards the sanctuary area. The nave ends in a drum apse that, especially on the outside and despite its remarkable proportions, appears small compared to the inordinate size of the nave.

Melide: Monasterio-Hospital de Sancti Spiritus :

The large pilgrimage churches in France featured a deambulatoire or columned passage around the choir, providing access to a series of small chapels, and even larger pilgrimage church like Saint-Sernin in Toulouse has double side aisles to facilitate the movement of pilgrims. An important church on the route was Le Puy from where 

Bishop Godescalc inaugurated the route in 951. The Le Puy cathedral was built in the 11th and 12th century.

Another feature of the later Romanesque churches was greater height. These churches had a tribune or gallery on the level above the ground floor, where worshippers could look down into the Nave. The tribune provided greater stability and support for the high roof. In the Auvergne, the churches added another level; above the gallery there was another level of vaulted tribunes. These churches had great height but little light penetrated into the nave. In other regions, such as Poitu, the tribunes and arcades were replaced by high windows bringing light directly into the nave.

Codex Calixtinus

No comments:

Post a Comment