Gothic Era Western Architecture

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Western architecture has evolved into many different forms over the past three centuries. It started with the Greeks and the Romans creating basic architectural elements, and continued with many different eras using these elements to create buildings that are distinctly unique. This paper’s goal is to showcase the development of Western architecture from the Romans through the Gothic Era, starting at the creation of basic elements and ending with grand buildings that have used these elements to create something new.
The Colosseum, one of the first great examples of Western architecture stands in Rome, Italy, and was built over twenty years, from 70-80 BCE. Its opening ceremonies lasted nine months.. It was the largest amphitheater built in
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The Colosseum could hold up to 50,000 people, and these people needed to be seated in an orderly fashion. When people would come to see an event at the Colosseum, they were given a ticket, and entered through a designated point related to their ticket to ensure they get to their assigned seat as quickly and easily as possible. In order for this to happen, the Romans had to invent different types of vaulting to create hallways. Barrel vaults were created to make corridors, and groin vaults were created to allow for intersection. Barrel vaulting was originally round, like a Roman arch, but continuous. Groin vaulting is an adaptation to barrel vaulting, is produced by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults. The word “groin” refers to the point at which the to vaults meet and create a crease. Vaulting was also much more effective in sustaining large amounts of strain caused from heavy buildings, and it was the vaulting which allowed for the many levels of the Colosseum. The vaults take the pressure off of the ceiling and down to the ground (Kleiner, 203-205). These vaults invented by the Romans would be utilized for hundreds of years after the fall of the Roman …show more content…
In 313, Emperor Constantine created the Edict of Man that allowed followers of Christianity to practice their worship freely and without oppression. Early Christian churches started construction soon after, and one of the most well known is Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy, built from 320 to 327 CE. Christian Romans didn’t want their churches to resemble temples, because those were the places of worship of pagan gods. They did need a place that could hold many people, and would not be too expensive to build. The location they chose for the church was on the old grounds of the Circus of Nero, where St. Peter was supposedly martyred. The building style they chose to base St. Peter’s off of was a basilica, just like the Basilica Ulpia in Trajan’s Forum. Like the Basilica Ulpia, St. Peter’s had a flat wooden ceiling, a row of clearstory windows to let in light, a huge central space, or nave, along with side aisles and arcades flanking each side of the nave down to an apse, where the altar was (see Fig. 3). With such a large open area, the church could hold up to 4,000 people. Unlike the Basilica Ulpia, St. Peter’s Basilica only had one apse. The entrance to the church was where the other apse had been in the Basilica Ulpia. A transept, or a transverse section crossing through the nave, gave the church a cross shape, called cruciform. St. Peter’s Basilica was also built with the entrance to the west,

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