11 May 2017
Classical Greek Architectures vs. Medieval Gothic Architectures
Looking at the design of different structures throughout the world, one may not realize the beauty of the art in each of them or the ideals on which they were constructed. For example the classical Greek era, 480 BCE – 330 BCE that held the ideals of order, balance, and God like perfection. This type of idealist architecture is seen in the Parthenon temple built in 447-432 BCE (Ancient-Greece.org). The temple is built in tribute for the Goddess Athena, Goddess of war and wisdom. It is a post and lintel structure with columns fashioned in Greek Doric style. There are also the beautiful cathedrals built during the Middle Ages in gothic style that give society insight into the culture of that age. The architecture of these times were heavily influenced by religion and Christianity and designed to elevate the spirit of man toward God (Apollo Group, Inc., 2016). One example of this time is the architectural design is the Amiens Cathedral. Originally built in 1152 BCE but was destroyed by fire; reconstruction started in 1220 CE and was completed in 1245 CE (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 2016). In the design of this cathedral it is evident that the architect is influenced by the Christian religion, from the three archways representing the trinity and the middle archway adorned with a statue of Christ, it was built as a place of worship. These remarkable structures, each a piece of art, are both built with divine intentions, stand in stark contrast to each other, influenced by the culture of the age. Although both classic Greek and gothic architectures are built to define the ideals and beliefs of their age and have differences, the classic Greek architecture of order and balance has influenced and are used within the gothic medieval constructions. There are differences between the formal and stylistic characteristics of the classic Greek architecture and the gothic architecture of the medieval age. Classic Greek architecture is made of stone resting on stone with nothing but pressure holding them together. This is best exemplified in Greek temples, such as the Parthenon. The Parthenon is a post and lintel structure, built of limestone and marble, which were the common building materials of that age (Sporre, 2015). Using these types of materials limited the architect’s use of space. In order for the building to stand without the roof collapsing many columns were needed to hold the roof up. These columns, known as Doric columns because of their style, were made of marble and the pressure of the stone roof resting on them held them together. The Parthenon was with many beautiful states, from the metopes that are a series of carved panels forming the Doric frieze telling stories of the history and battles of the Gods, to the towering statue of the Goddess Athena for which it was built. The Parthenon and other Greek temples were meant to be revered from the outside as a center piece of the city, a monument to the Gods of that age. Gothic architecture, unlike classic Greek, used stone masonry. By using stone masonry they were able to create arches and redistributed the pressure of the stones enabling the structures to be built taller. They also created what is called a buttress and used this to hold up walls and arches as reinforcement. Gothic architecture was considered ethereal and focused on the use of space (Sporre, 2015). A beautiful example of gothic architecture was the Amiens Cathedral. Towering into the heavens, with strong arches, symmetrical lines, and ornate workmanship, this cathedral was a show piece for the city in which it was built and exuded spirituality. These cathedrals were meant to inspire one to look toward the heavens with extremely high ceilings and ornate stain glass window placed strategically toward the roof causes one to look upward. Like classic Greek temple, they were adorned with beautiful statues. However, the states were of the Christian Saints, and other religious symbolism. The Amiens Cathedral was meant as place to enter and worship, as were all cathedral of the medieval era. Even though there are differences between these two styles of architecture, they are a testament to evolution of how societies have grown and evolved. One can see this in the similarities of these two styles. Classic Greek architect’s used repetition in the arrangement of the columns holding up the roof of the Parthenon. Gothic architect’s used repetition in the creation of the arches on the facade of the Amiens Cathedral. The gothic cathedrals are built with order and as are the Greek temples. One can see that gothic architecture evolved out of classic Greek. The most interesting aspects of the classic Greek architecture were the way the buildings were constructed with marble stones and no use of mortar or cement and the beautiful engravings on the metopes are mesmerizing. Gothic architecture is gorgeous. The creation of colored lighting through the placement of stained glass and the construction of the arches holds one captivated. Both styles of architecture are fascinating because of the elaborate detail and styles of construction that it took to create the beautiful structures during those eras. Even though each of these styles have their differences, clearly the classic Greek influences can be seen in the buildings of the medieval time period and in today’s architectural structures.
Ancient-Greece.org. (2016). The Parthenon. Retrieved from
Sporre, D. J. (2015). Reality Through The Arts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. (2012).
Amiens Cathedral. Retrieved from http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/162