Gothic vs Romanesque Architecture: Difference and Comparison

Sometimes people get confused about the differences between Gothic and Romanesque architecture. Both architectural styles are not the same, but still, many similarities are present. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Gothic architecture is known for its pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses, which create a sense of verticality and lightness.
  2. On the other hand, Romanesque architecture is characterized by round arches, barrel vaults, and thick walls, which convey a sense of solidity and massiveness.
  3. Gothic architecture emerged in the 12th century and was prevalent until the 16th century, while Romanesque architecture was popular from the 9th to the 12th century.

Gothic vs Romanesque Architecture

The difference between Gothic and Romanesque architecture is that Romanesque building has round arches and they have blunt towers. On the other hand, the building of gothic has pointed towers.

Gothic vs Romanesque Architecture
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Gothic architecture defines the styles that lasted from the mid twelve century to the sixteen century in Europe. Gothic architecture is mainly masonry, characterized by cavernous spaces as the expanse of broken-up walls by overlaid tracery.

We can define Romanesque architecture as a construction style using semi-circular arches. Romanesque style can be identified all over Europe as the regional characteristic and different materials.

Many castles were built during that period, but churches mainly outnumbered them.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonGothic architecture  Romanesque architecture
Meaning It is an architectural style which has lasted from the 12th century to the 16th century. This building is mainly in a masonry style.It is an architectural style in medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches.
Shape of arches   Gothic architecture buildings have pointed arches in them.Romanesque architectural buildings have rounded arches in them.
Interiors Gothic architecture buildings have large windows and many stained glasses, which result in a light, bright, and airy interior.  Romanesque architecture buildings have small windows and fewer stained glasses, which result in a dark interior. 
Vaults   Gothic architecture buildings have groin vaults.  Romanesque architecture buildings have barrel vaults.
Interior design Gothic architecture buildings have a few structural support and flying buttresses.  The Romanesque building has massive pillars inside the building.
Exterior design   Gothic architecture has gargoyles on the exterior of the building.Romanesque architecture has a minimal design on the exterior of the building.
Structure   Gothic architecture buildings have slender skeleton structures.  Romanesque architecture buildings have massive, framed structures.

What is Gothic Architecture?

Gothic architecture has been traced to the 12th century. This architectural style was mainly used to make the churches look like heaven.

This architecture makes the churches which are colourful, bright, and soaring. Back then, the characteristics of Gothic Architecture were identifiable with those thick walls and numerous but huge windows.

The Gothic structure has a slender skeleton and a large window with stained glasses, allowing more light into the room. One feature of the Gothic structure is that they are very tall and pointed towards the sky.

It also had an ornate and round window named Rose Window. Some other features of Gothic architecture like vertical lines, flying buttresses, and highness.

Another essential feature that can differentiate between Gothic architecture and Romanesque architecture is the use of buttresses, which is common in Gothic buildings. The Gothic architectural period represented the beginning of the style that was an aesthetically pleasing idea, and beautiful were constructed in the building’s design.

As time passed, the architect in the middle ages started to conceptualize their creation because buildings were no longer designed; they were meaningful and valuable in and of themselves.

gothic architecture

What is the Romanesque Architecture?

This architectural style was created during the 9th and 12th centuries. The Roman and Byzantine styles mainly influenced Romanesque architecture.

The term or name Romanesque came into use in the 1800s, and because it had the features of a barrel vault, it seemed pretty much similar to the Roman arch. The Romanesque building had blunt towers in it.

This architecture has the characteristic of barrel vaults, thick walls, internal space, and round arches on the door and windows. The Romanesque period building was heavy and solid, along with thick walls.

Rooms inside a Romanesque building have low-light entrances because of small windows, which dimly lit the whole room. The structure of this building was heavy frames.

This architectural trait also has a stone that was cut exactly, and some hollow walls were able to distribute the weight of the stones. Using the Roman arch allowed the stone to be supported in the construction arch centre.

The building’s window opening construction style should be the same as the Romanesque style, meaning it should be small. The vault’s construction is considered the most important characteristic of this architecture.

There were at least two different styles of vaults, the tunnel and the barrel vault. 

romanesque architecture

Main Differences Between Gothic Architecture and Romanesque Architecture

  1. Gothic architecture was traced to the mid-12th century. On the other hand, Romanesque architecture was traced from the 9th century to the 12th century.
  2. Gothic architecture mainly came in use for constructing churches to look like heaven. On the other hand, Romanesque architecture was influenced by Roman and Byzantine styles.
  3. Gothic architecture buildings have pointed arches in them. On the other hand, Romanesque architectural buildings have rounded arches in them.
  4. Gothic architecture buildings have slender skeleton structures. On the other hand, Romanesque architecture buildings have heavy framed structures.
  5. Gothic architecture buildings have large windows and many stained glasses, which result in a light, bright, and airy interior. On the other hand, Romanesque architecture buildings have small windows and fewer stained glasses, which results in a dark interior.
Difference Between Gothic and Romanesque Architecture
References
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/9780470996997#page=317
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44346126

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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