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Romanesque Architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. This style eventually developed into the Gothic style in the 12th century, characterized by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across Europe, making it the first Pan-European Architectural style since Imperial Roman Architecture.
Combining features of Western Roman and Byzantine buildings, Romanesque Architecture is known by its massive quality, its thick walls, round arches, sturdy piers, groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. Each building has clearly defined forms and they are frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan so that the overall appearance is one of simplicity when compared with the Gothic buildings that were to follow. The style can be identified right across Europe, despite regional characteristics and different materials. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
Many castles were built during this period, but they are greatly outnumbered by churches. The most significant are the great abbey churches, many of which are still standing, more or less complete and frequently in use. The enormous quantity of churches built in the Romanesque period was succeeded by the still busier period of Gothic architecture, which partly or entirely rebuilt most Romanesque churches in prosperous areas like England. The largest groups of Romanesque survivors are in areas that were less prosperous in subsequent periods, including parts of Southern France and Northern Spain. Survivals of unfortified Romanesque secular houses and palaces are far rarer, but these used and adapted the features found in church buildings, on a domestic scale.
Gothic architecture is most familiar as the Architecture of many of the great cathedrals, abbeys and churches of Europe. It is also the Architecture of many castles, palaces, town halls, guild halls, universities and to a less prominent extent, private dwellings.
A series of Gothic revivals began in mid-18th century England, spread through 19th-century Europe and continued, largely for ecclesiastical and university structures, into the 20th century.
Baroque Architecture, emerged in the 1600’s with a new emphasis placed on bold massing, colonnades, domes, light-and-shade (chiaroscuro), ‘painterly’ color effects, and the bold play of volume and void. In interiors, Baroque movement around and through a void informed monumental staircases that had no parallel in previous architecture. The other Baroque innovation in worldly interiors was the state apartment, a processional sequence of increasingly rich interiors that culminated in a presence chamber or throne room or a state bedroom. The sequence of monumental stairs followed by a state apartment was copied in smaller scale everywhere in aristocratic dwellings of any pretensions.
Baroque architecture was taken up with enthusiasm in central Germany. In England, the culmination of Baroque architecture was embodied in work by Sir Christopher Wren, Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, from ca. 1660 to ca. 1725. Many examples of Baroque architecture and town planning are found in other European towns, and in Latin America. Town planning of this period featured radiating avenues intersecting in squares, which took cues from Baroque garden plans. In Sicily, Baroque developed new shapes and themes as in Noto, Ragusa and Acireale “Basilica di San Sebastiano”.
Another example of Baroque architecture is the Cathedral of Morelia Michoacan in Mexico. Built in the 17th century by Vincenzo Barrochio, it is one of the many Baroque cathedrals in Mexico.
Francis Ching described Baroque architecture as “a style of Architecture originating in Italy in the early 17th century and variously prevalent in Europe and the New World for a century and a half, characterized by free and sculptural use of the classical orders and ornament, dynamic opposition and interpenetration of spaces, and the dramatic combined effects of architecture, sculpture, painting, and the decorative arts.”