Throughout the centuries, beautiful Medieval cathedrals have been towering above every building and till this day, still survive with their astonishing appearance. Their structure resemble the power and glory of heavens. Today, they are known as “prayers in stone” because they are respected as holy places. Taking literally hundreds of years to build these great Gothic buildings, the skillful carpenters and masons responsible for the construction are respected for constructing these powerful buildings that tell us about the past (Macdonald 1).
The construction of the cathedrals were more than hundreds of years (Macdonald 14). The overall shape of appearance was planned out before any construction was started. The contractors were usually peasants of the low class. Cathedrals were built on old church sites throughout Europe and the world to spread the religion of Christianity. There were many architectural styles for the churches. Carpenters used long lasting materials such as stone and strong wood. Some of the best stone came from France. Cranes and pulleys powered by men and animals were used to haul these stones, especially in the dangerous job of quarrying. The appearance of the cathedrals were magnificent. As one of the largest buildings of its time period, they represented the heavens in which people believed was peaceful and serene. Walls and pillars were massive structures enclosing hundreds of yards. Stone arches and gargoyles were put in various places for decoration. The elevating towers on top of the cathedrals were called “fingers” pointing to heaven. Inside these enormous “fingers,” immense bells and clocks were placed. Stained-glass windows on the sides describe the lord, Jesus, and his life. The ever going ceilings and their paintings represent heaven. Statues symbolized sacred priests of the church (Macdonald Intro.).
The purpose of these cathedrals were to praise and thank God. People offer prayers and offerings to God at the great cathedrals thinking it would bring a prosperous and healthy life. In the Middle Ages, these “prayers in stone” were made to spread Christianity throughout the world. Being the Bishops church, the greatest centers of studies were inside the depths of the cathedrals. The pope answered the most theorized questions about Christianity. Cathedrals and the people inside implored that God is the most important part of a persons life and should be thanked for everything. At anytime were the townspeople feeling downhearted or prosperous for any particular reason, their first priority would be to go to the center of the town and thank God at the cathedral. Praising the lord became a ritual of everyday life. The cathedrals expressed all through the Gothic Age, caused a sense of meaning to construct others in surrounding areas. Each one served as an invigorating temple of deep rooted mysteries of Christianity (Macaulay 65).
The time period in which these extraordinary churches were built in are part of the Middle Ages, also known as the Gothic Age. During this time period, the world was divided into regions ruled by the Bishop. The regions were called dioceses because of the church governments and administration, therefore, the headquarters became the cathedrals. The churchs power was symbolized by the Bishops throne. Usually, the throne was located in the holiest part of the cathedral. The throne was set facing west next to relics founded by an earlier saint. Making the cathedrals was not an easy process. Money came from gifts of land, farms, houses, and jewels. Many people even believed that donating money would forgive their sins. All the money was controlled by the clergymen. Cathedrals were expensive to build as well as maintain, especially because of the damages on the roof. The workers such as the highly skilled architects, sculptors, blacksmiths, and many more, believed that being a part of the construction would bring them fame and fortune. “Ironically, the initial classification of Gothic was assigned to the cathedrals as a derogatory description denoting darkness from an earlier age” (no author, Internet). Cathedrals portray a dark side to the Middle Ages, however, they supposedly resemble the heavens and bring happiness (No Author Internet).
Cathedrals across the world come in different shapes and sizes just as humans do. Many cathedrals stand as one of most holiest places in the world, such as Bourges, Charites, and Reims. Spanish cathedrals are bigger than most other cathedrals throughout the world of Christianity. English cathedrals combine the art of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Some examples of English cathedrals are Cantbury and Durham. Out of the hundreds of cathedrals scattered all through the world, Italian cathedrals show the most magnificent materials and fine points of workmanship for the religion of Christianity (Coles Internet).
As cathedrals still tower up around the world being noticed as one of the most largest and magnificent buildings ever made, they are respected today for their variety of architectural designs and for their purpose as well. They come in different shapes and sizes but all have the same purpose, to serve as a place to praise Jesus. Some cathedrals such as Cantbury and Durham express Gothic structures (Coles Internet). They will always be around to show the roots of Christianity and portray the architectural skills served by the people of the Middle Ages.
Coles, Jill.. Cathedrals. Timpview Highschool. 8 Dec 1994. http://www.byu.edu/ipt/projects/middleages/LifeTimes/Cathedrals.htm
Macaulay, David. Cathedral. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973.
Macdonald, Fiona. A Medieval Cathedral.NewYork:PeterBedrickBooks, 1991.
No Author, “Gothic Dreams.” Earthlore Explorations. Media Content Copyright: 1995-1999. Http://elore.com/el-ti-04.html