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Romanesque architecture for beginners

C clearly

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As a person with very limited knowledge of architecture and history, I'd like to get some pointers on how to recognize different styles of architecture in Spain. It is overwhelming to google and find the huge amount of detail available - I need something a little more friendly, to get me started.

Rather than trying to go chronologically through history, let's start with one style that is often mentioned in connection with the Camino - Romanesque.

My challenge is for those unnamed members who wax poetic about Romanesque, to say in one sentence, how they recognize Romanesque when they see it. Feel free to write more, of course, but try to include your single-sentence summary of the essence of the style. I know the subject is more complex than that, but it is sometimes interesting to try to describe the essence.

If you have a photo or two on which you can point out specific features, that would be helpful, but this isn't meant to be a photo album of all your favourite churches! I have just Googled "romanesque style" and found 17,000,000 hits, and more than a few of them are photos! What I need is simple commentary on what to look for.

If it is any excuse, I come from a part of the world where there are virtually no buildings dating even to Victorian times, let alone medieval!
 
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jungleboy

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Great thread idea! I am not an expert, but the first two things that come to mind for me in terms of recognising a Romanesque building (usually church) from the outside are the building material, which is often light-coloured sandstone, and the distinctive church portals, which often have decorated capitals and other intricate features.

This is São Pedro de Rates on the CP Central, which I've seen described as 'the most Romanesque church in Portugal':

P1330980.JPG
 
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Romanesque, based on Roman engineering techniques, windows with semi circular Arches. (often smaller windows)
Pointed arches came later in the Gothic style. (allowed larger windows)

Of course there are many other distinguishing features.
 
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biarritzdon

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Romanesque architecture refers to the Medieval Age from the 6th century to 12th century before the Renaissance Age. The architecture was sturdy and symmetrical, almost clunky, with thick walls and barrel vaults, there were rarely soaring spaces and audacious towers because the constructors were not as daring as they would become years later.
 
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C clearly

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Romanesque architecture refers to a period of time from the 6th century to 12th century before the Renaissance Age. The architecture was sturdy and symmetrical, almost clunky, with thick walls and barrel vaults, there were rarely soaring spaces and audacious towers because the constructors were not as daring as they would become years later.
Good description. Wikipedia also notes that the style "was identifiably Medieval and prefigured the Gothic, yet maintained the rounded Roman arch and thus appeared to be a continuation of the Roman tradition of building."

I've also just learned that the Romanesque style is that which is called "Norman" in England. I have long had a vague idea of what "Norman" looked like. So I am making progress with recognizing the basic building style.

Are decorative carved figures always an essential part of the style?
 

Rebekah Scott

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Decorative carved figures DO appear on a lot of Romanesque churches, some of them pretty spectacular and even racy! They appear especially around the doorways and along the rooflines... but in well-funded and usually monastic churches or important buildings. There are Romanesque churches that are plain and severe, usually due to smaller budgets or more austere religious convictions of the builders. The Romanesque came to the Camino from the Benedictine abbey in Cluny, France. It arrived first at Jaca -- a darksome cathedral there is the grandaddy of the string of Romanesque jewels including churches in San Millan de Cogolla, Burgos, Fromista, Carrion de los Condes, Sahagun, Leon... and dozens of smaller churches in smaller towns along The French and Northern ways. The mountains of Palencia and Burgos, north of the Frances, are home to dozens of these little treasures!
Gitlitz and Davidson's "Cultural Handbook" has a very helpful section on architectural styles along the Ways.
 

peregrina2000

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For me, the two most pleasing aspects of romanesque churches (apart from the profoundly human scale it produces when you combine all of its features) are the round arches and the apses. It’s a double pleasure to be able to enjoy the building from the outside as much (or sometimes more) than from the inside.. The church at the monastery at Granja de Moreruela is one of my favorite exteriors (even though there is no interior left),as is this one on Murano in Venice.

04CE77E0-2FE9-4EA1-8A48-A88A26459B5E.jpeg


3332B694-2847-4202-A6E0-78055F0A60C5.jpeg
 
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This is São Pedro de Rates on the CP Central, which I've seen described as 'the most Romanesque church in Portugal':
P5164036.JPG P5164035.JPG
Not very good at the commentary but here are a couple more photos of the church in Sao Pedro de Rates.
 

C clearly

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the profoundly human scale
I guess it is all relative, but it puzzles me a bit, as those buildings don't strike me as being of profoundly human scale.

Decorative carved figures DO appear on a lot of Romanesque churches, some of them pretty spectacular and even racy! They appear especially around the doorways and along the rooflines...
Did they continue to be used with the transition to Gothic?
 
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I am no expert at all--in fact I have to confess that I learned everything I know from Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth books.... Based on that authoritative background :0 I always think of Romanesque as smaller in scale compared to gothic because it took the technological innovations of the gothic period (pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses) to make the truly huge and soaring buildings.
 

peregrina2000

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I guess it is all relative, but it puzzles me a bit, as those buildings don't strike me as being of profoundly human scale.


Did they continue to be used with the transition to Gothic?

Of course you are right that it is all relative. But spoken by someone who lives in a world where the tallest building is more than 2500 feet tall, these seem very human-scale. And some of my favorite romanesque churches are those very small spaces, like Santiago de los Caballeros in Zamora. Cathedrals are always going to be more grandiose.

I assume that those who built romanesque churches and cathedrals were building the most advanced and daring structures they could with their engineering expertise, so I think that what seems human scale, less ornate, and more essential, to us now is just because we have seen the evolution of centuries of increased sophistication in building and engineering. To modern viewers, it is hard not to think of romanesque as more human and humble, which is probably something that the architects and builders of those buildings never dreamed their legacy would be.

I think the erotic capitals died out with the romanesque, but gothic architecture has a lot of decorated and human figure capitals.
 
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VNwalking

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You can find numerous tutorials/videos on youtube.
Certainly. But I'm glad tou posted this, @C clearly — it's fun and more interactive to discuss it here.

to say in one sentence, how they recognize Romanesque when they see it.
I'll give you a few words:
Simple, even austere.
Rounded arches.
Small windows.
Heavy columns.
Grounded, rather than soaring and light-filled.
No flying buttresses.

I am always charmed by the small natural sculptures under the eaves and above doors— like the sweetness of the cows at the Diomondi. Nearby, on the outskirts of Chantada, there was a church with squirrels.
Then on the Viejo and the first part of the Olvidado, there are some Churches with quite racy images on the corbels (under the eaves):
Here are @caminka’s photos from her wililoc track: the guy picking his teeth made me chuckle out loud. And then someone has a toothache...and is that woman giving birth!? From this fortunate vantage point it makes me ponder the common and universal woes in the 12th C., when toothaches and birth would have been much more dangerous events than they are now.

it puzzles me a bit, as those buildings don't strike me as being of profoundly human scale.
@peregrina2000 described it well. I would just add the comparison between a soaring light-filled jewel box like the Gothic Leon Cathedral, which draws the mind out and up, and the more dark, quiet, and internal space of a Romanesque church.
for Romanesque lovers, @romanicoespana is a great follow on Instagram.
Wonderful link!! Gracias.

View media item 9682View media item 9683
 

C clearly

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I understand the charm and the "human scale" of the Romanesque carvings, but I still have a bit of trouble describing those massive buildings and arches (e.g. VN's photo #53) as such. So I'm trying to sort out how much is the building style and how much is the art embellishments. Of course they cannot necessarily be separated.

I wondered if the carvings ceased to be used when the trend moved to Gothic, and also why? Did somebody among the clerics/artisans/architects decide that the carvings were silly folk art and not worthy of the new style? Was the transition sudden or gradual?

Did the Norman style in England have those carvings?

But @peregrina2000 says that
gothic architecture has a lot of decorated and human figure capitals.

So, I'm left with the round arches and windows combined with sturdy and symmetrical support, as the hallmark of Romanesque.
 

Kanga

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I think La Romieu on the Le Puy route is still Romanesque, although you can see the start of the gothic style of windows. The cloisters are stunning. My husband climbed to the top of the tower - the circular stairs are so narrow our feet could not fit on the treads and I chickened out!

La Romieu.jpg 2010-05-19 at 13-12-45.jpeg IMG_0352.jpeg
 

jungleboy

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That is stunning! How would one recognize the Romanesque?
It is indeed stunning but also quite unusual. Because of the height and the pointed arches I agree with @Kanga that it’s a transitional style between Romanesque and Gothic. Romanesque features I can see are the light-coloured stone and tiled roof, and possibly the ‘flat’ tower tops?
 
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VNwalking

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I'm left with the round arches and windows combined with sturdy and symmetrical support, as the hallmark of Romanesque.
Yes, and a feeling of heaviness about the buildings, as opposed to airiness. Contrast @Kanga 's photo of the outside of La Romieu (which may indeed be transitional) with this, the high Gothic of Leon Cathedral:
Leon (39).JPG

The flying buttresses are a Gothic innovation that allowed soaring ceilings and lighter walls:
Leon (41).JPG

I'm hoping @mspath chimes in with her deeper expertise...
 

mspath

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Yes, and a feeling of heaviness about the buildings, as opposed to airiness. Contrast @Kanga 's photo of the outside of La Romieu (which may indeed be transitional) with this, the high Gothic of Leon Cathedral:
View attachment 87912

The flying buttresses are a Gothic innovation that allowed soaring ceilings and lighter walls:
View attachment 87911

I'm hoping @mspath chimes in with her deeper expertise...
VNWalking,

Thanks for your interest and many thoughtful comments re "typical" aspects /examples of architectual style.

At the moment, 20/11/20, here in rural France under total confinement at 81 pondering such intellectuel concepts seems almost whimsical.

Nevertheless since thinking does not need
special permission although going anywhere off our property during confinement does I will attempt to answer your request soon.

Carpe diem!
 
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That is stunning! How would one recognize the Romanesque?
I don't think that Saint-Pierre de La Romieu is Romanesque. My first impression: It doesn't have flying buttresses which makes it look sturdy like Romanesque churches and not as light (weightless) and elegant as Gothic sacral buildings. But not all Gothic churches are light and elegant, far from it. The windows of La Romieu look Gothic (shape, i.e. the pointed arches AND geometric pattern within the windows and probably also their tall and wide size make them Gothic), the cloister is Gothic (shapes).

And https://structurae.net/en/structures/collegiale-saint-pierre says that its architectural structure is Gothic and rib vault. "Rib vault" is one of the give-aways for non-Romanesque architecture. You don't see it from the outside, though ;). They also say that work started at the beginning of the 14th century ... beyond what is usually considered Romanesque era in those regions I think. I now see that elsewhere it is described as a chef-d’œuvre de l’architecture gothique rayonnante en Gascogne centrale.

I took a Coursera course once about the "Age of the Cathedrals" and as part of the course work I had to write a short essay discussing three differences between Gothic and Romanesque style. I covered the same three architectural elements as @ebrandt and Ken Follet did 🤓: pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses are hallmarks of the Gothic style. All of them were revolutionary technological advances.

However, as far as I remember and others have mentioned, the transition from Romanesque to Gothic was gradual. The Romanesque semi-circular arches became semi-pointed before they became easily recognisable Gothic pointed arches and the Romanesque barrel vaults changed, too, on their way to easily recognisable Gothic rib vaults.
 
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also just learned that the Romanesque style is that which is called "Norman" in England. I have long had a vague idea of what "Norman" looked like. So I am making progress with recognizing the basic building style.
That is correct, of course. But there must be a reason why the architectural style in England is generally called Norman and not Romanesque while the style in France and Spain (and Italy and Portugal) is just called Romanesque. I am vaguely familiar with some outstanding Romanik/Romanesque sacral buildings in Germany and other northern countries, and have even visited a few, and, yes, wonderful and admirable. But when I think of Romanesque now, of the kind that touches me the most and makes me want to see more of it or see it again, it's in the southern parts of France and the northern parts of Spain.
 
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peregrina2000

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I also think that these categories are a bit fluid. It’s not like there was a romanesque church-building instruction book for use in the 9th - 12th centuries, which was then swapped for the gothic book. The transitions happened gradually and in a disperse manner over time and place. And given the many years it took to build, many of the churches started out in one style and were finished in another. Some Romanesque churches/cathedrals also served defensive purposes, and that must have influenced the design. When you look at the composite of characteristics, though, one fits easily into what we envision as life in the middle ages, and the other coincides with our understanding of the exuberance and flourishing of the Renaissance.

But I eagerly await @mspath’s insights!
 
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VNwalking

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it's in the southern parts of France and the northern parts of Spain.
Regional differences are way beyond my discernment capacity. I'd love to know what you are seeing that I am missing.

And I went to doctor Google to refresh my memory about barrel vaults as opposed to rib vaults. Here's a Wikipedia article that has some really nice pictures from Spain. Turns out (no surprise) that Moorish architects in Cordoba had figured out rib vaulting at least a century before everybody else.
The first article is enough information for most of us, but the rest are there if this is your kind of rabbithole:
 
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jungleboy

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I also think that these categories are a bit fluid. It’s not like there was a romanesque church-building instruction book for use in the 9th - 12th centuries, which was then swapped for the gothic book. The transitions happened gradually and in a disperse manner over time and place. And given the many years it took to build, many of the churches started out in one style and were finished in another.
Yes, exactly. If I recall correctly, what we call Gothic was referred to as 'French style' at the time because that was its origin, so the 'time and place' part of your comment is interesting and important. When they were starting to build in Gothic buildings in France, they were likely still building Romanesque ones in Spain. Plus you have the other styles impacting local architecture in various places (e.g. mudéjar in Spain, which is sometimes combined with Romanesque). And now that I've led myself down this rabbit hole, and since this seems relevant to the topic and unmentioned yet, here's an example.

40653773083_795aebba08_c.jpg

This is the 12th-century Romanesque-Mudéjar church of San Gervasio and San Protasio in Santervás de Campos on the Camino de Madrid.

The triple apse is the church’s most significant architectural feature. The outer two apses are in Mudéjar style (Muslim-influenced architecture on Christian buildings in Spain), including the use of brick, the many arches, and the geometric patterns above the arches. The stone central apse, however, is Romanesque. The combination of these two architectural styles in one building is not uncommon; the San Tirso church in nearby Sahagún is another good example.
 
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some pointers on how to recognize different styles of architecture in Spain [...] let's start with one style that is often mentioned in connection with the Camino - Romanesque
Don't forget about the useful reminder in your purse, with images of the rounded heavy appearance of the Romanesque portal and of the pointed Gothic window with typical fine tracery.

Rule of thumb: The more complicated the visual geometry, the less Romanesque it is ☺️. That goes for the building as a whole as well as for individual elements.

Euro architecture style.jpg
 

jungleboy

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That is correct, of course. But there must be a reason why the architectural style in England is generally called Norman and not Romanesque while the style in France and Spain (and Italy and Portugal) is just called Romanesque. I am vaguely familiar with some outstanding Romanik/Romanesque sacral buildings in Germany and other northern countries, and have even visited a few, and, yes, wonderful and admirable. But when I think of Romanesque now, of the kind that touches me the most and makes me want to see more of it or see it again, it's in the southern parts of France and the northern parts of Spain.
I haven't looked this up (although that seems to be the theme of this thread 🤣), but I would guess that Romanesque and Norman are not close enough to have the same name. You often see buildings from that era in England referred to as Anglo-Norman, which perhaps serves to differentiate them from the Norman-Arab-Byzantine fusion heritage in and around Palermo. Perhaps there was influence from the Norman kingdom in Sicily in spreading Mediterranean-style architecture back to England? But my memory of the Norman buildings in England is that they include what would appear to be Gothic elements (e.g. larger interior spaces) more so than Romanesque?

Certainly. But I'm glad you posted this, @C clearly — it's fun and more interactive to discuss it here.
Isn't it? :)
 

VNwalking

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The more complicated the visual geometry, the less Romanesque it is ☺️. That goes for the building as a whole as well as for individual elements.
That's the difference in a nutshell, isn't it?
And the gradual shift from one style to the next is an incremental increase in geometric complexity and elaboration. The ceilings of the cathedral in Burgos and the cathedral in Santiago inhabit very different aesthetic universes.
 
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mspath

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Don't forget about the useful reminder in your purse, with images of the rounded heavy appearance of the Romanesque portal and of the pointed Gothic window with typical fine tracery.

Rule of thumb: The more complicated the visual geometry, the less Romanesque it is ☺️. That goes for the building as a whole as well as for individual elements.

View attachment 87926
These images are ideal representations of an European style and not of any particular structure. Read more here re Euro banknote design images.
 

VNwalking

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Yet despite being simpler, Romanesque is still better!
Isn't simple always better?
😇

But, seriously, the two are apples and oranges. Sometimes I like the Gothic better, sometimes the Romanesque. It depends on my mood, the day, and the specific example.
Though I have to admit to a general proclivity to older and 'calmer' being better.;)
 

Harington

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As a person with very limited knowledge of architecture and history, I'd like to get some pointers on how to recognize different styles of architecture in Spain. It is overwhelming to google and find the huge amount of detail available - I need something a little more friendly, to get me started.

Rather than trying to go chronologically through history, let's start with one style that is often mentioned in connection with the Camino - Romanesque.

My challenge is for those unnamed members who wax poetic about Romanesque, to say in one sentence, how they recognize Romanesque when they see it. Feel free to write more, of course, but try to include your single-sentence summary of the essence of the style. I know the subject is more complex than that, but it is sometimes interesting to try to describe the essence.

If you have a photo or two on which you can point out specific features, that would be helpful, but this isn't meant to be a photo album of all your favourite churches! I have just Googled "romanesque style" and found 17,000,000 hits, and more than a few of them are photos! What I need is simple commentary on what to look for.

If it is any excuse, I come from a part of the world where there are virtually no buildings dating even to Victorian times, let alone medieval!
To put it at its most crude, the arches are rounded not vaulted/pointed. But that is really simplistic.
 

thistleamy

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Certainly. But I'm glad tou posted this, @C clearly — it's fun and more interactive to discuss it here.


I'll give you a few words:
Simple, even austere.
Rounded arches.
Small windows.
Heavy columns.
Grounded, rather than soaring and light-filled.
No flying buttresses.

I am always charmed by the small natural sculptures under the eaves and above doors— like the sweetness of the cows at the Diomondi. Nearby, on the outskirts of Chantada, there was a church with squirrels.
Then on the Viejo and the first part of the Olvidado, there are some Churches with quite racy images on the corbels (under the eaves):



@peregrina2000 described it well. I would just add the comparison between a soaring light-filled jewel box like the Gothic Leon Cathedral, which draws the mind out and up, and the more dark, quiet, and internal space of a Romanesque church.

Wonderful link!! Gracias.

View media item 9682View media item 9683
Great and simple explanation of romanesque!
 
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Glenshiro

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The term Norman is used in the British Isles to describe the style of architecture which became predominant after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. It is usually considered a particular style of Romanesque architecture.
There are a number of Norman cathedrals in England ,(e.g. Durham, Ely, Peterborough) many parish churches with at least some Norman features and any number of Norman castles. For me, the instant tell-tale sign is the rounded arch in the church doorway, followed by very substantial round pillars either side of the nave.
 

frbobs

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As a person with very limited knowledge of architecture and history, I'd like to get some pointers on how to recognize different styles of architecture in Spain. It is overwhelming to google and find the huge amount of detail available - I need something a little more friendly, to get me started.

Rather than trying to go chronologically through history, let's start with one style that is often mentioned in connection with the Camino - Romanesque.

My challenge is for those unnamed members who wax poetic about Romanesque, to say in one sentence, how they recognize Romanesque when they see it. Feel free to write more, of course, but try to include your single-sentence summary of the essence of the style. I know the subject is more complex than that, but it is sometimes interesting to try to describe the essence.

If you have a photo or two on which you can point out specific features, that would be helpful, but this isn't meant to be a photo album of all your favourite churches! I have just Googled "romanesque style" and found 17,000,000 hits, and more than a few of them are photos! What I need is simple commentary on what to look for.

If it is any excuse, I come from a part of the world where there are virtually no buildings dating even to Victorian times, let alone medieval!
Hey, I'm no expert either, but hope this helps... Romanesque (as opposed to Gothic) is sturdy with-OUT any flourishes, characterized by meticulous brickwork usually orange/brown or grey (sometimes Fortress-like), built from the 6th Cent. through the Middle Ages up to the 11th Cent. (12th Cent. brings the Gothic-style).
Attached photos are of a Church in Fromista, Spain and one outside Porto, Portugal...good examples. Look up "Mudejar" as well, it's a Romanesque style, built by the Moors left over from the Reconquering of Spain.
Their most distinguishing characteristic is that they're plain and solid... day to day "work-horse" type buildings. Peace, B
 

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NorthernLight

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I’ve not yet read all the posts in this thread, but I recommend Rick Steves' Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler. It’s well written, easy to read ... think art & history for dummies. By the time I finished the first edition (pub 1984) ... I felt smarter while roaming churches in Europe. I think it’s been updated since.
 

Jeff Crawley

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I haven't looked this up (although that seems to be the theme of this thread 🤣), but I would guess that Romanesque and Norman are not close enough to have the same name. You often see buildings from that era in England referred to as Anglo-Norman, which perhaps serves to differentiate them from the Norman-Arab-Byzantine fusion heritage in and around Palermo. Perhaps there was influence from the Norman kingdom in Sicily in spreading Mediterranean-style architecture back to England? But my memory of the Norman buildings in England is that they include what would appear to be Gothic elements (e.g. larger interior spaces) more so than Romanesque?


Isn't it? :)
Most of the Norman churches we have where I live (Kent) are quite petite with heavy columns and small windows - except the ones that were butchered by Victorian "restorers". Even the castles - Dover, Rochester and the Tower of London, have small windows. Don't forget glass would have been a luxury and England didn't offer the same climate as Sicily!
 

Jeff Crawley

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That is correct, of course. But there must be a reason why the architectural style in England is generally called Norman and not Romanesque while the style in France and Spain (and Italy and Portugal) is just called Romanesque. I am vaguely familiar with some outstanding Romanik/Romanesque sacral buildings in Germany and other northern countries, and have even visited a few, and, yes, wonderful and admirable. But when I think of Romanesque now, of the kind that touches me the most and makes me want to see more of it or see it again, it's in the southern parts of France and the northern parts of Spain.
It's probably to do with the English obsession about being invaded and conquered and not feeliing very romantic about it.
 
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MichaelB10398

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I took a course on Gothic architecture from Yale and it was excellent. As a foundation to the course the professor distinguished the difference between Romanesque and Gothic. One of the things that struck me was the fact that Romanesque architecture was fort-like for several reasons. The primary reason is that such a building was not centered in a village or city, but just in the country. Society was not evolved enough to be city-focused. As societies strengthened in population we began to see religious structures become the focus of a city or large village.
 

NorthernLight

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You often see buildings from that era in England referred to as Anglo-Norman, which perhaps serves to differentiate them from the Norman-Arab-Byzantine fusion heritage in and around Palermo. Perhaps there was influence from the Norman kingdom in Sicily in spreading Mediterranean-style architecture back to England?
The Normans in Sicily were associated with Normandy and France, not with those Normans who had conquered England. My remembrance of Norman history would not support any Sicilian architectural influence into England by Normans. Interesting stuff though.
 

C clearly

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Romanesque architecture was fort-like for several reasons. The primary reason is that such a building was not centered in a village or city, but just in the country.
Yes, the buildings seem fort-like. That's why I find the charming carved embellishments to be a little out-of-place on the otherwise simple austere buildings. Of course, that conflict is what is so interesting, in addition to the actual story telling!

Can anyone enlighten us about the carvings - were they always done at the time of construction, or added later? Can we draw any conclusions from their presence or absence? As I asked before, do Norman buildings in England have carvings?
 
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I took a course on Gothic architecture from Yale
Yes, the buildings seem fort-like.
I wonder whether it's the same course that I did ☺️. It's on Coursera and given by Howard Bloch, professor of French at Yale. It deals mainly with Gothic cathedrals and churches in France and with societal changes but there is a block about the Romanesque. I watched the 6 min video again.

He does say that the Romanesque style emanated from the great period of defensive retreat into the countryside after the collapse of the Carolingian empire in the 9th century. I wonder, however ... The example shown in the video is the church of the abbey of Jumièges in Normandy in the north of France. I am a bit skeptical but will leave it at that, I'm an amateur and not an expert.

This construction - two west towers and a west portal as the main entry instead of the south portal - reminds me more of the northern European Romanesque churches than of their more southern cousins. There is even a word for this architectural component: Westwork (from German Westwerk), defined as the monumental, often west-facing entrance section of a Carolingian, Ottonian, or Romanesque church.

Jumieres.jpg
 
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jungleboy

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I wonder whether it's the same course that I did ☺️.
I also started the Age of Cathedrals course but I don't think I got very far for reasons unknown. I went though a MOOC craze about 6 years ago and have over 50 certificates but this one might have been when I was a bit burnt out! I should probably go back and complete it. Here's the link for anyone interested.
 
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Last year on the Camino Catalan I visited the old monastery of San Juan de la Peña. This is mainly romanesque but it has other styles too. In May and June I posted pictures of it and described the styles shown. These were in @VNwalking's thread One day at a time, one photo at a time.... Here are the links to my posts in case you have an interest.





barrel vault

neo-classical

Mozarabic arch in door

Gothic arch

Romanesque cloister and Baroque chapel

Romanesque capital

See photos at Flickr taken near San Juan de la Peña.
 

Albertagirl

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Yes, the buildings seem fort-like. That's why I find the charming carved embellishments to be a little out-of-place on the otherwise simple austere buildings. Of course, that conflict is what is so interesting, in addition to the actual story telling!

Can anyone enlighten us about the carvings - were they always done at the time of construction, or added later? Can we draw any conclusions from their presence or absence? As I asked before, do Norman buildings in England have carvings?
@C clearly
About Norman architecture in England and Romanesque architecture in Spain. My knowledge of this area is very limited, but I lived for about 8 years near the village of Church Hanborough in Oxfordshire, which contains a Norman church built prior to 1130 (see Wikipedia); much later, I spent a night at the albergue in Arres, on the Aragones, where the hospitalero showed pilgrims the church. Both churches seemed to me to be very simple and fortress-like in style. The tympanum at Church Hanborough seems to have been the only sculpture at the church and to have been present from the initial construction. The Church certainly seemed to me to be rather fortress-like. The church at Arres was apparently designed to protect the residents of the village from attack, or so said the hospitalero who showed us around. Grain was stored there and the bell was rung to warn residents of the village of imminent attack.
I do not know why the church at Church Hanborough was so fortress-like in style, as it was built after the Norman Conquest, when I can see no reason for internal threat in England. Perhaps the style was imported from elsewhere.
 
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As a person with very limited knowledge of architecture and history, I'd like to get some pointers on how to recognize different styles of architecture in Spain. It is overwhelming to google and find the huge amount of detail available - I need something a little more friendly, to get me started.

Rather than trying to go chronologically through history, let's start with one style that is often mentioned in connection with the Camino - Romanesque.

If it is any excuse, I come from a part of the world where there are virtually no buildings dating even to Victorian times, let alone medieval!
I would recommend Philip Ball's Universe of Stone, about the triumph of Gothic architecture, but noteworthy for its discussion of Romanesque. He describes the different look in terms of the stones being for the purpose of holding up the building, whereas Gothic represents an enormous intellectual transition. I usually note the timber ceilings of the Romanesque and the absence of glazing (easier to stand a building up if not pockmarked with pesky holes). I carry the book on my phone when walking, as it's a great reference.

Maybe it's because of being from a 'new' country, or being brought up Presbyterian in bare interiors, but I like the simpler architecture of the Romanesque. Otherwise all the decoration seems like idolatry.
 
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NorthernLight

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I do not know why the church at Church Hanborough was so fortress-like in style, as it was built after the Norman Conquest, when I can see no reason for internal threat in England. Perhaps the style was imported from elsewhere.
There were lots of internal threats in England. Henry I arguably stole the throne from his big brother and there were lots of internal squabbles about who should be king. (My ancestor backed the wrong guy and was stripped of his barony.) But defence aside, this may have simply been the only way their builders knew how to make a big church.
 

VNwalking

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He does say that the Romanesque style emanated from the great period of defensive retreat into the countryside after the collapse of the Carolingian empire in the 9th century.
They certainly can look defensive. But at least in the case of Northern Iberia, I'm guessing the need for that is rooted in defense against the Moors.

When walking in Northern Spain, sometimes you see churches that seem to have almost no windows at all — or if they're there, they're just a little slits. They're neither big enough nor high enough for the walls to seem to require extra strength so defense may be the reason for that. But I'm just guessing — I actually have no idea.

Here are two, the first from Los Ausines on the Camino San Olav just SE of Burgos (a crummy photo from a rainy day):

IMG_1355.JPG
And the second from Zalduondo on the Vasco.
IMG_1096.JPG
And here, predating the Romanesque, is a window from the Visigothic Sta Maria de Lara:
20160325_082843(2).jpg
 
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Can anyone enlighten us about the carvings - were they always done at the time of construction, or added later? Can we draw any conclusions from their presence or absence? As I asked before, do Norman buildings in England have carvings?
The Romanesque stone carvings that I have seen, first in real life on the way to Santiago from about Poitiers in the south west of France onwards and later in Spain on the Camino Francés from about Estella onwards, and still later on photos, again mainly from southern France and northern Spain, are a main reason why I’ve joined the ranks of those who (quote) “wax poetic about Romanesque” (end quote). I think parts of Italy, for example Lombardy, ought to be included here but I know little about it. To my knowledge, nothing even remotely comparable can be found in England although it found its way into Norman architecture, too.

I am thinking mainly of two sculptural forms that emerged during the Romanesque era: the tympanum (the lunette-shaped space above the entrance to a church), and the historiated capital (a capital incorporating a narrative element, usually an episode from the Bible or the life of a saint).

And then there are of course also the sculptures on the Romanesque corbels. Let’s not forget about the corbels. :)
 
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Just so that we know what we are talking about, below are two Romanesque tympanums (yes, I know tympana as the plural form sounds more educated 😎), one from the portal of a church in Kilpeck in Herefordshire ("one of the most perfect Norman churches in England"), showing a tree of life, and the other one from one of the portals of San Isidoro in Leon where you can also see the story telling in these sculptures, here illustrating the crucifixion of Jesus in the middle and his resurrection (angel showing the empty grave to the three Marys) on the right and ascension into heaven on the left - core elements of Christian teaching and Christian belief. Fue crucificado, muerto y sepultado, descendió a los infiernos, al tercer día resucitó de entre los muertos, subió a los cielos - you may often hear these words spoken when you attend mass on your way to Santiago.

Romanesque tympanon.jpg
 
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As to capitals and corbels, it's difficult to make a choice for illustration purposes but these are among my many favourites: a nativity scene from San Juan de la Ortega on the Camino Frances and a harp playing donkey from San Martín in Fromista. The nativity scene shows Mary and her baby in bed, on the left is her husband Joseph, often shown as old or sleeping to indicate that he is a kind of asexual husband who didn't father this child, and look at all the details from a medieval household! :)

The chess like pattern, btw, below the roof and above the corbels is called Jaca pattern or something like this, and you can detect it in a number of places along the Camino Francés. And as it is often the case with Romanesque corbels, there are differing interpretations as to what the harp playing donkey means to convey to the casual observer (if anything).

This is one of the reasons why I love this stuff. :)

San Juan Oca - Fromista.jpg
 
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jungleboy

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The church of San Martín in Frómista has been mentioned upthread as a beautiful Romanesque church on the Francés and some outside photos were posted but it must be time to talk about the incredible interior capitals. I spent a long time inside looking at and photographing them!

I'll put the third one behind a spoiler because of sculptural nudity.

P1020542.JPG

P1020535.JPG

35798437675_8976483071_c.jpg
 

VNwalking

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The chess like pattern, btw, above the corbels is called Jaca pattern or something like this, and you can detect it in a number of places along the Camino Francés.
Thank you. Now I know! I had noticed that but did not know the name for it. Like this?
20190611_142444 (2).jpg

This is my favorite part.
Just to be clear, it is the whimsy rather than the raciness that I find appealing. 🙃
I mean, how can you not love this menagerie? That squirrel...
20190611_142547 (2).jpg
( these two images are from the 9th century Mosteiro de San Salvador de Asma that the Invierno passes on the outskirts of Chantada.)

Also, here's the really simple and special tympanum from the Iglesia de Santiago de Taboada, also on the Invierno/Sanabres, with an amazing image of Samson and the lion.
20190614_122550 (2).jpg
 
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I had noticed that but did not know the name for it. Like this?
View attachment 87958
Yes, that's it. The proper name in Spanish for these "chessboard" decorative bands is taqueado jaqués or ajedrezado jaqués, named after the model on the 12th century cathedral of Jaca. Apparently, this pattern is typical for Spanish Romanesque architecture and can be found in particular on buildings of the Camino de Santiago (which is, broadly speaking, the wide corridor around the Francés / Aragonés / Invierno ...)
 
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Just to be clear, it is the whimsy rather than the raciness that I find appealing.
Oh, thanks for this clarification ☺️.

I enjoy the diversity of the sculptures on Romanesque corbels, and sometimes I find it a bit regrettable that inevitably the topic of racy/erotic/pornographic/natural (take your pick) Romanesque corbels is brought up. While intriguing - it's unusual to see and what does it mean, nobody has figured it out yet - these corbels are relatively rare, as far as I can tell. They are certainly not ubiquitous along the Camino Frances.

But I have to tear myself away from Romanesque sculpture for a while. This isn't a rabbit hole. This is a gigantic rabbit warren. 😁
 

peregrina2000

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He describes the different look in terms of the stones being for the purpose of holding up the building, whereas Gothic represents an enormous intellectual transition.
This reminds me of something the guides told us once when we visited the monastery at Batalha, a great Portuguese late gothic creation. At the completion of the church, the architect or engineer or someone in charge offered to sleep inside overnight to prove to everyone that it was indeed safe. There was apparently a lot of disbelief that human construction could soar so high. @jungleboy, I may have my details fuzzy on that, does this story ring a bell with you?

Loving this thread!
 
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The church of San Martín in Frómista has been mentioned upthread as a beautiful Romanesque church on the Francés and some outside photos were posted but it must be time to talk about the incredible interior capitals. I spent a long time inside looking at and photographing them! I'll put the third one behind a spoiler because of sculptural nudity.
View attachment 87963
View attachment 87964
Thank you for these excellent photos of these three interior capitals from San Martín in Fromista, @jungleboy.

I barely remember them. After we had looked at and enjoyed all 4 outside facades with their portals and windows, plus a considerable number of the 300+ corbels, had stood silent in front of the ancient crucifix inside and on the left (or in the middle?), and had studied the small model showing the appearance and sorry state of the church before the (somewhat controversial and considerable) restoration work some 100 years ago, we could barely keep our eyelids up or mentally digest anything anymore when it was our turn to look at the 50 capitals, plus the guard signalled to us that he wanted to close the church for a while. I think he needed to go to the toilet.

There's a fabulous resource on the web about San Martín with a lot of explanations about what it is that you see and that goes beyond "naked man with snakes" or "two lions with one head". I'll try to find the link and post it later. Plus there is a bit of an interesting story to the capital in your third photo ...
 
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Terry Callery

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romanesue.JPG
Romanesque church in Santarum on the Portuguese Route.

More like a Roman Temple -
Gothic 14th century --has the tall spires and is way more ornate. flying butresses lots of detail and sculptued.

They were like a woman who wears no make up or jewely. Plain -Natural Beauty -

Romanesque design is simple -not ornate - basic

Medicate order bult these -more simple --less ostentacious.
The mendicate orders Dominicans, Franciscians, Capucins, Carmelmites and Augusitines built many these churches 11th-12th century -

Romanesque architecture is known by its massive quality, thick walls, round arches, sturdy pillars, barrel vaults, large towers. Each building has clearly defined forms, frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan; the overall appearance is one of simplicity when compared with the Gothic buildings
 

Rebekah Scott

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Yes, exactly. If I recall correctly, what we call Gothic was referred to as 'French style' at the time because that was its origin, so the 'time and place' part of your comment is interesting and important. When they were starting to build in Gothic buildings in France, they were likely still building Romanesque ones in Spain. Plus you have the other styles impacting local architecture in various places (e.g. mudéjar in Spain, which is sometimes combined with Romanesque). And now that I've led myself down this rabbit hole, and since this seems relevant to the topic and unmentioned yet, here's an example.

View attachment 87925

This is the 12th-century Romanesque-Mudéjar church of San Gervasio and San Protasio in Santervás de Campos on the Camino de Madrid.

The triple apse is the church’s most significant architectural feature. The outer two apses are in Mudéjar style (Muslim-influenced architecture on Christian buildings in Spain), including the use of brick, the many arches, and the geometric patterns above the arches. The stone central apse, however, is Romanesque. The combination of these two architectural styles in one building is not uncommon; the San Tirso church in nearby Sahagún is another good example.
This church is awesome. And best of all, it is still in active use!
 
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I picked this up on Wikipedia. Another rule of the thumb for @C clearly 😉: When you are in a white area, it isn't Romanesque.

Apparently, the new style appeared first in Catalonia and was inspired and imported from northern Italy (Lombardy) while later influences came from France and spread from east to west along the Camino de Santiago.

Screenshot 2020-11-21 at 16.25.34.png
Pink: Románico catalán
Red: Románico aragonés
Blue: Románico navarro
Orange: Románico castellano y leonés
Yellow: used to belong to various areas/kingdoms/styles
Shades of green:
Románico Asturiano, Románico Gallego y Románico portugués
 
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Mike Wells

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When I wrote my guidebook to cycling the Camino Frances, my publisher asked me to include an appendix describing the various architectural styles to be found along the route and an aide memoire to recognising them. Here is what I wrote about the Romanesque.

Romanesque (known in Britain as Norman)

When; 11th–12th centuries in northern Spain. Never reached southern Spain as still under Moorish rule.

Origin; arrived from France late 10th century, spread along Camino into Spain by French religious orders (particularly reformed Benedictines from Cluny) and itinerant French craftsmen building cathedrals, monasteries and churches in French style.

Recognisable by; rounded arches, small windows, thick walls, heavy columns, recessed and carved door frames.

Best examples; Eunate (Santa Maria), Frómista (San Martin), León (San Isidoro), Estella (palace of Navarre Kings), Santiago (most of the cathedral but not the façade), Ponferrada (Templars’ castle).

Sta Maria in Eunate.JPG San Martin's in Frómista.JPG San Isidoro basilica in León.JPG Palace of the Kings' of Navarre in Estella.JPG Templars' castle in Ponferrada.JPG
 

Camino Chrissy

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Great photos, Mike, and apparently you had great weather as well.
 
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jungleboy

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This reminds me of something the guides told us once when we visited the monastery at Batalha, a great Portuguese late gothic creation. At the completion of the church, the architect or engineer or someone in charge offered to sleep inside overnight to prove to everyone that it was indeed safe. There was apparently a lot of disbelief that human construction could soar so high. @jungleboy, I may have my details fuzzy on that, does this story ring a bell with you?

Loving this thread!

It doesn't, sorry, although I have been to Batalha and it is a very impressive complex.

P.S. Loving this thread too. And I have indeed signed up for Age of Cathedrals again, and paid in advance for the certificate to make sure I finish it this time!
 

peregrina2000

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It doesn't, sorry, although I have been to Batalha and it is a very impressive complex.


Being nothing if not stubborn, I was sure I had some nagging memory of this Batalha monastery story. Some searching on google led me to this description of the Chapter House (it wasn’t the church, sorry). Anyway, it now seems a bit off-topic, but I think it shows what a radical transformation took place from romanesque to gothic. And terrifying to think that condemned prisoners were the labor that built it.

Off-shooting the Royal Cloisters is the impressive Chapterhouse (Portuguese: Sala do Capitulo) with its magnificent star vaulted ceiling which spans an incredible 18 square metres and rises to a height of 20m (60ft) without any central supports. The design was radical at the time of construction. Following two initial ceiling collapses, only condemned prisoners were used as construction labour. However its final success was demonstrated by its designer Afonso Domingues, who spent the night there as soon as the scaffolding was removed. On one wall is a marvellous stained glass window dating back to 1508 which depicts scenes from the passion.
 

C clearly

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Slow down, everyone! I am having trouble keeping up. This morning when I got up, the first new post on this thread was this very short sentence that kept me busy searching for definitions for 15 minutes:
PS: I’m not sure but I think that sculptured corbels and historiated capitals disappeared in Gothic art/architecture while the tympanum flourished.

Then I was able to read posts about tympanums, with some comprehension. But when we got to corbels, I had some trouble. Here are the photos from post #57 by @Kathar1na.

San Juan Oca - Fromista.jpg
My first problem was getting the correct perspective on the photo on the right. It may seem incredibly stupid but when I first looked at it, I didn't clue into the fact that I was looking UP at the roof. Rather I was feeling that I was looking DOWN from the position of the photo on the left! Thus I had trouble finding the feature that @Kathar1na described as "The chess like pattern... below the roof and above the corbels".

But now I have figured it out.
The proper name in Spanish for these "chessboard" decorative bands is taqueado jaqués or ajedrezado jaqués, named after the model on the 12th century cathedral of Jaca. Apparently, this pattern is typical for Spanish Romanesque architecture and can be found in particular on buildings of the Camino de Santiago

The proper name in Spanish for these "chessboard" decorative bands is taqueado jaqués or ajedrezado jaqués, named after the model on the 12th century cathedral of Jaca. Apparently, this pattern is typical for Spanish Romanesque architecture
The Jaca pattern seems to be a 3-D pattern of block placement that creates a light and dark shadow effect. I like such patterns and will remember this feature.

Another rule of the thumb for @C clearly 😉: When you are in a white area, it isn't Romanesque.
That will help me avoid making some really ignorant comments. :cool:
 

C clearly

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The Ponferrada castle certainly has the blocky structure associated with Romanesque, and a nice semicircular arch at the entrance, but it doesn't have round windows or the simple human scale that has been mentioned. Is it truly Romanesque, simply on the basis of its construction date?
 
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The proper name in Spanish for these "chessboard" decorative bands is taqueado jaqués or ajedrezado jaqués, named after the model on the 12th century cathedral of Jaca. Apparently, this pattern is typical for Spanish Romanesque architecture and can be found in particular on buildings of the Camino de Santiago
It's a job that the apprentice stonemasons could handle easily too.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I am making my way, slowly but with considerable satisfaction, through Janice Mann's Romanesque Architecture and its Sculptural Decoration in Christian Spain, 1000-1120: Exploring Frontiers and Defining Identities. I find that the "frontier" metaphor, which points out the military losses of the Muslim rulers in southern Spain and the success of Sancho el Mayor in northern Spain at the same time (around 1000) delineates a frontier where Christians in the north were rapidly developing religious art and architecture to express both their separation from the Muslim South and their own developing religious art. I am looking forward to spending some time on a future camino exploring the richness of this religious art and architecture.
 

HenkSlb

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Caminho Portuguese [April 2016]
Via de la Plata/Sanabres [March, April 2017]
.... And terrifying to think that condemned prisoners were the labor that built it.
Prisons were more more like dungeons at the time. Let's say: alive in and dead out. The punishment would more often be death by hanging or maybe banishment for life if you were lucky. So, working on a dangerous job could have been the less of a lot of evils.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
I wonder whether it's the same course that I did ☺️. It's on Coursera and given by Howard Bloch, professor of French at Yale. It deals mainly with Gothic cathedrals and churches in France and with societal changes but there is a block about the Romanesque. I watched the 6 min video again.

He does say that the Romanesque style emanated from the great period of defensive retreat into the countryside after the collapse of the Carolingian empire in the 9th century. I wonder, however ... The example shown in the video is the church of the abbey of Jumièges in Normandy in the north of France. I am a bit skeptical but will leave it at that, I'm an amateur and not an expert.

This construction - two west towers and a west portal as the main entry instead of the south portal - reminds me more of the northern European Romanesque churches than of their more southern cousins. There is even a word for this architectural component: Westwork (from German Westwerk), defined as the monumental, often west-facing entrance section of a Carolingian, Ottonian, or Romanesque church.

View attachment 87934
That course by Bloch seems to be truncated to the course I took. I checked Coursera and the Course I took is not offered at present. It seems like we studied a few more cathedrals than what is currently covered in Bloch's course. However, I would recommend taking it - it is free on Cousera - and if you love Gothic architecture you will find yourself in heaven while studying St. Denis, Notre Dame, and Chartres.
I just started a course in Illuminated Manuscripts
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I am making my way, slowly but with considerable satisfaction, through Janice Mann's Romanesque Architecture and its Sculptural Decoration in Christian Spain, 1000-1120: Exploring Frontiers and Defining Identities.
Thanks for the reference. I have just put in a request for this book on interlibrary loans.
 

Pafjr

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September (2016)
For me, the two most pleasing aspects of romanesque churches (apart from the profoundly human scale it produces when you combine all of its features) are the round arches and the apses. It’s a double pleasure to be able to enjoy the building from the outside as much (or sometimes more) than from the inside.. The church at the monastery at Granja de Moreruela is one of my favorite exteriors (even though there is no interior left),as is this one on Murano in Venice.

View attachment 87888


View attachment 87889
If ever in London. the 12th century Temple Church has a fantastic round Nave.
Beautiful and interesting Church you can easily spend a couple hours visiting.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
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The Ponferrada castle certainly has the blocky structure associated with Romanesque, and a nice semicircular arch at the entrance, but it doesn't have round windows or the simple human scale that has been mentioned. Is it truly Romanesque, simply on the basis of its construction date?
The buildings that make up the so-called Castillo de los Templarios in Ponferrada may be romantic but they are not Romanesque. They ought to be removed from any list of typical examples of Romanesque buildings.

The part of the Ponferrada castle that is usually photographed, with the drawbridge-like main entry, the cute crenellated towers and walls, were built much much later than the Romanesque and/or Templar period anyway.

The oldest building that is still standing, albeit only just (it is mainly four external walls with not much left inside in the way of roofs or internal walls), is the so-called Castillo Veijo in the far end corner of the castle grounds. It has thick walls and small windows and a roundish portal but that doesn't make it Romanesque. It makes it a fortified medieval castle. The Castillo Veijo is built in the area where the Templars' buildings were. However, it was not built by them but by later owners. As far as I could find out (reliable non-touristic sources), there is little left that can be identified as belonging directly to the Templar era, just some foundation walls here and there and a number of stone blocks that have been reused as building material in various places during later building projects.

Castillo Veijo / Old Castle / part of the Ponferrada castle compound

Castillo Veijo.jpg
 
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Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Year of past OR future Camino
"Portuguese Camino"
"Slow Camino"
"The First Pilgrim"
All on Amazon
Templar castle in Tomar temp;sr.jpg

With the discoveries of the New World fueling the imagination of the Portuguese people, King Manuel I (1495-1521) asked for the portals and windows of buildings crafted during his reign to have “sumptuous” ornamentation that reflected nautical and religious themes.

Spheres, anchors, shells, and columns resembling twisted strands of rope began to appear as decorative elements on Catholic icons and architecture.

The central octagon of the church inside the sixteen-sided rotunda is small, permitting just a few dozen people to stand inside, and it features eight Romanesque columns that rise perhaps fifty feet to the vaulted ceiling above.

Some ornamental elements that were clearly Manueline, such as seaweed-shaped borders interspersed with scallop shells. There is gold leaf framing the polychrome statues of saints and angels tucked into canopies and naves. The Knights Templar could attend Mass mounted on their war horses because of the elongated vaulting between the columns.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
The part of the Ponferrada castle that is usually photographed, with the drawbridge-like main entry, the cute crenellated towers and walls, were built much much later than the Romanesque and/or Templar period anyway
Thank you for the confirmation of that— I thought it looked too much like a Disney Castle to be original.
 
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We are moving a bit away from the Romanesque style and how to recognise it but just to illustrate what a hotchpotch of building periods the Ponferrada castle is - which is nevertheless a fantastic and fascinating example of a fortress compound - here is an overview. I think the compound is viewed from the inside and the surrounding wall has been cut at one point so to speak and the four sides are then laid out in a linear form. One tower (Torre de Malvecino) is marked for orientation purposes. I think the main entry is to the right of this tower. Obras = works, siglo = century.

Ponferrada building periods.jpg
 
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And my last word on the Ponferrada castle ☺️: Two images, one showing how experts recognise building styles where I just see a bit of old wall and the second photo showing how the main entry and the wall looked like before modern restoration/renovation. Over time, a lot of material had been removed by the local community and/or authorities to be used elsewhere - all this has been "repaired" in more recent times.

Ponferrada Castle.jpg
 
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Regional differences are way beyond my discernment capacity. I'd love to know what you are seeing that I am missing.
I can't explain it, at least not online and in writing. I know it when I see it. When it touches me and when it's "not so much".

To reveal the depth and width of my ignorance 😄 ... and where my Romanesque taste doesn't lie ... look at the example below: I've been there, and it wasn't even so long ago. I climbed it. I went to Sunday Mass. I didn't realise then - or I immediately forgot and don't remember - that this Italian cathedral and the famous tower belonging to it, although separate, is a notable example of regional Romanesque. And, yes, the tower is leaning towards one side. It is not the fault of the camera or the photographer. ☺️

So I plead for sticking to the kind we see in Aquitaine and assorted French regions and in Catalonia and northern Spain plus Portugal (which I don't know at all).

Pisan Romanesque.jpg
 
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Terry Callery

Chi Walker
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There is some Romanesque in the Convento do Cristo as you mentioned but the Manueline architecture in your photo and that you mostly talked about is late Gothic. Let's not confuse @C clearly even more!
Hey ---- look at the date I referenced--- was late Gothic

Romanesque- 11th ---12th---Century

Late gothic 14th - 15th Century

Not confusing -the nice inquisitive lady,

The columes were Ionic, Roman Style. Did not say the entire church was.

With the discoveries of the New World fueling the imagination of the Portuguese people, King Manuel I (1495-1521) asked for the portals and windows of buildings crafted during his reign to have “sumptuous” ornamentation that reflected nautical and religious themes.

PS Love yor photos -your have a real talent
And your post about Portugal---- as you now live there right now - are you an expat from the USA?
Best Wishes
T
 
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Just came across an excellent book, Rolf Toman (ed), Romanesque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, HF Ullmamn, 2004. IT has an instructive chapter on Romanesque building styles and individual chapters on Romanesque architecture in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. Also a combined chapter on same in Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Central Europe. Even a chapter on Medieval church portals and their importance in the history of law. 480pp, so comprehensive, but sufficiently divided to satisfy less enthusiastic readers
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Just came across an excellent book, Rolf Toman (ed), Romanesque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, HF Ullmamn, 2004. IT has an instructive chapter on Romanesque building styles and individual chapters on Romanesque architecture in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. Also a combined chapter on same in Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Central Europe. Even a chapter on Medieval church portals and their importance in the history of law. 480pp, so comprehensive, but sufficiently divided to satisfy less enthusiastic readers

I was lucky to find it in a secondhand bookstore and it is my reference for Romanesque architecture!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
I am making my way, slowly but with considerable satisfaction, through Janice Mann's Romanesque Architecture and its Sculptural Decoration in Christian Spain, 1000-1120: Exploring Frontiers and Defining Identities.

Just came across an excellent book, Rolf Toman (ed), Romanesque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, HF Ullmamn, 2004.
Thank you for the recommendations! I have put both in my Amazon wish list but I'm not sure which one to go for. The Mann book comes in Kindle form which might be enough to put it over the top. Has anyone read both?
 
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I'll put the third one behind a spoiler because of sculptural nudity. View attachment 87965
There is a bit of an interesting story to the capital in the photo. So, after the excursion to the Romanesque Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, back to the Romanesque church of San Martin in Fromista on the Camino Frances in Spain ☺️.

The capital with "full male frontal nudity" as we would call it today tells the story of Orestes, a story of madness and purification, of passion killing and revenge killing in a royal family in mythical Greece. As a result of his deeds, Orestes is pursued by the Erinyes, aka as the Furies, and this is what the scene on this capital shows. The Erinyes are minor female dieties or spirits from the underworld and are sometimes depicted as holding snakes or having snakes as their hair. Anyway ...

An old photo from before the restoration/reconstruction of San Martin in Fromista in the early 1900s shows that this capital was totally covered with plaster, with some modern pattern painted on it, so that the sculpture with the Orestes scene was not at all visible (see photo). When the restorers removed the plaster it turned out that the sculpture was not damaged at all. The capital had to be dismantled because the shaft of the pillar was damaged and needed replacing. The capital was stored on the building site, waiting for the pillar to be repaired. Before it could be put back into its original place in the church, "some moralistic barbarians, scandalised by the nakedness of the central figures, hammered it to pieces". The damaged capital is now kept in a museum in Palencia, together with other original capitals and original corbels from San Martin. What you see today in Fromista, is a copy.

It is very likely that the medieval artist who carved the Orestes scene knew the Roman sarcophagus from the 2nd century that was kept in the church of the town of Husillos, about 25 km from Fromista, and that shows scenes from the Orestes narrative.

For illustration purposes, three capitals, including the capital under plaster on the left, are marked (click to enlarge). The second photo shows the original capital.

Orestiade scenes - Fromista.jpg
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
PS Love yor photos -you have a real talent
And your post about Portugal---- as you now live there right now - are you an expat from the USA?
Best Wishes
T
Thank you! To answer your question, I'm an Australian who has been living overseas for nearly 20 years.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
What you see today in Fromista, is a copy.
Thank you for the explanation, that one always seemed a bit too perfect! I've been going back through my photos the last couple of days and it's interesting to how some other ones look more 'weathered' and thus are likely more authentic.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I've seen a lot of posts distinguishing Romanesque from what came afterwards (Gothic). I'm not sure I've seen any posts distinguishing Romanesque from what came before (on Caminos in Spain, Visigothic; elsewhere, I'm not sure). Can anyone shed light in that area?
Several of us have already asked @C clearly for a separate thread on that topic, and I think she will oblige once she feels comfortably well-grounded in the differences between Romanesque and Gothic.
 
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I've been going back through my photos the last couple of days and it's interesting to how some other ones look more 'weathered' and thus are likely more authentic.
Check your photos to see whether there is the letter "R" on the some of the capitals. Eleven of the 50 capitals are said to be copies, of which seven are marked with an "R".

Isn't San Martín a true treasure trove of unexpected discoveries? ☺️
 
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