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The secrets of Gothic cathedrals

Gothic – a style that became the hallmark of the middle Ages. She was not the only style of the era, but only the last and perhaps the most spectacular. Called Gothic monuments of architecture of XII, XIII, XIV and XV and partially XVI centuries, in which most fully reflected the medieval mood and least of all reveals the influence of Greek and Roman art. Fantastic embellished lace thread stone spikes flew up and bloomed the precious radiance of the stained glass Windows throughout Catholic Europe since the XII century. France, England, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic and even Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance, voznikoveniia her. But the leading role in the history of Gothic art, the former, above all, art architects, played, however, was France, England and Germany. France is the birthplace of the Gothic. England chose its national style, constantly going back to her forms, transforming them, but not forgetting. Germany, the romantics, has got the honor to return Gothic art from the darkness of oblivion, to reveal its beauty.

Modern humans breath in admiration at the sight of the masterpieces of Gothic, but perhaps some other style of art has undergone so many attacks and such a terrible criticism, as the Gothic. The term itself did not originate in the Middle ages, as it may seem, and in the Renaissance. The very definition of art as “Gothic” suggests a hostile and complete misunderstanding of the respect that was shown to him by the artists and scientists of the era of enlightened Renaissance.

In the middle of the XV century in Italy there appeared a number of works in which the ancient style revived by Brunelleschi, is contrasted with “modern”, recorded in Italy during the migrations of the barbarians of the so-called Gothic. Art ready, there is art of barbarians, called Nanticoke all works of art. But art, who appeared to shift the Romanesque, was not created by the Goths and in General anything to do with him has not. French architects of the XVI century, noted the remoteness of the Gothic style from the ancient proportions and the lack of taste in fabulous Gothic ornamentation. The architect Philibert de l Orme did not consider it Gothic style, or “La mode francaise”, a real architecture. Interesting reviews of the French classics of the seventeenth century. Moliere speaks with indignation about the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and Racine to La Bruyere and “Gothic” is a complete synonym for “barbaric”. In 1800 Petit Radel presented even a draft of the destruction of Gothic churches, and in 1857 Bayle devoted a whole lecture to prove that Gothic architecture in France is not national and is the epitome of the flawed religious ideas, obscurantism and antiduhovnosti.

By the way, the invention of the term “Gothic” attributed to Raphael. Existed ingenious theory that “explains” the emergence of the famous Lancet arches. In the letter to Leo X someone (for a long time the author really believed Raphael) indicated that their origin they are “popularnych from those trees, which, if you bend a little and to link their branches, form a pointed arch”. But it’s more of a historical anecdote. But thanks to Vasari, who shared a dislike of their predecessors of the Gothic, “Gothic” becomes common.

The world of Gothic is mysterious, confusing and ambiguous. Any Gothic Church – mnohosmyslov a mystery, not guess out loud, and embodied in stone, stained glass, laid out on the floor labyrinths, sculptures and compositions. The Gothic cathedrals are lots of legends. One sees in these buildings masterpieces of architecture, for some it’s the universe, model Universe, the Bible for the illiterate, an anthology of metaphysics, symbolic of the message of the Templars and alchemists. Followers of esoteric teachings claim that the architecture and symbolism, for example, the Paris Notre Dame – this is sort of an encrypted vault of occult teachings. It is in this sense Victor Hugo said about Notre Dame as “the most satisfactory quick reference manual of occultism”. Legends shrouded in the slightest swirls in the ornaments of its decor. For example, the legend of the gate of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Gates of Notre Dame Cathedral decorated with a wonderful pattern of wrought iron with an equally amazing iron locks. Forge was tasked to a certain blacksmith by the name of Biscornu. When the blacksmith heard that he will need to forge curly locks and patterns for gates the most beautiful Cathedral of Paris, I got shaky as hell. Deciding that he doesn’t handle that, he tried to summon the devil. The next day, when the Canon of Notre Dame came to look at the work, he found the blacksmith without feelings, but in the forge, his eyes appeared a real masterpiece: curly locks, overhead wrought iron designs, representing a tracery of interwoven leaves, in short, the Canon was satisfied. When the finish gate was finished, and the locks are cut, the gates would not open! I had to sprinkle them with Holy water. In 1724, the historian of Paris Henri Saval expressed some thoughts on the mystery of the origin of the patterns on the gates of Notre Dame. No one knew how they were made: whether it is casting, whether they were forged. Biscornu remained there, the secret was lost with his death, and Sowell adds: “Biscornu, stung with remorse, became sad, became silent and soon died. His secret he took with him, never to reveal it – whether out of fear that the secret will be stolen, or fearing that, in the end, it turns out that no one saw how he hammered the gates of Notre Dame”….

But this story is only a light workout for the bored traveler – Gothic architecture and conceals the deeper and more strange things. The birth of Gothic as a style, the artistic transformation of the utilitarian design of the composition is not as simple and straightforward a process as it might seem at first glance.

During its millennial history the art knew a lot of styles, but very rarely can be called the author, exact date and place of birth of any of them. Gothic – a rare exception. She was born in France and, by the way, thanks to the light: from the view that God is light (so you can briefly formulate the main postulate of the doctrine, which became the theoretical basis of Gothic art). The “father” of the Gothic – Abbot Suger, a former rector of the main Church “institution” in France – the Abbey of Saint-Denis. Abbot Suger was one of the most educated men of his time. A theologian, historian, 1147 – Regent of the French king Louis VII, in addition to philosophical works, he wrote a treatise on the aesthetics of Christian architecture, which was substantiated by the symbolic meaning of many elements of the architectural composition, including stained glass and pointed arches. New style became for him the embodiment of the ideas found in the writings attributed to the ancient founder of the monastery, the former burial place of French kings, Saint Dionysios, the first Saint of France. Now the Cathedral is the reliquary, the reliquary for the divine light that penetrates the window that swallows the wall. Never before has the color and light played such a symbolic role.

Today scientists are trying to uncover the secrets of Gothic cathedrals, and, curious as it may sound, succeeded, by using the software, originally developed for entertainment purposes. Program to create animation used in the most recent film from the “Star wars”, after a small upgrade has allowed scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) to solve one of many mysteries of the Gothic cathedrals. With their help, it became clear how the builders of the XII–XIII centuries was available at the time the means and tools to create an amazing “air” cathedrals and to ensure their flawless strength. “To understand the architectural features of Gothic cathedrals, we conducted a search of the line inside of the grip, transmitting the weight of the structure down to its Foundation – said Professor of architecture at MIT John Osendorf. – If these lines are outside the walls and vaults of a Gothic Cathedral, it simply cannot exist. What is surprising is the balance on the brink of a miracle that the compression observed. Their stay at the threshold boundaries, but still in the security zone, and gives it an incredible sense of overcoming the laws of matter and of gravity. It is difficult to escape the impression that the medieval architects was headed by the Creator himself”.

In the Gothic “the overcoming of gravity of the body and soul” became a major artistic concern. Antique and classic shapes with balance horizontal and vertical direction for this purpose is not suitable. In the art of Gothic “the body” is only a symbol “mirochuvstvovanie in space,” the carrier “immaterial extent”, the idea of infinity. Hence the vertical as a dominant architectural composition. The Gothic Cathedral only grow out of the ground, but lives in the sky. Moreover, from a closed tectonic architecture of the temple is transformed into plastic and spatial composition. Gothic architecture is not so much the organization of the volume as the spiritualization of space, internal and external. You could even say that the Gothic style does not draw the space, and turning all around – separate forms, the solid earth and even the sky – figuratively-significant integer. Around the Gothic temple, and that light and sky are different.

It is clear that such a massive task not under force to one generation. Cathedrals had taken centuries to build, the construction of them, as the ancient Egyptian pyramids, spent huge amounts of money, time, effort and the lives of thousands of people. The Cathedral of Notre Dame, founded in 1163, was built over two hundred years and completed before the end of the XIV century. The largest of all Gothic cathedrals is located in Reims, its length is 150 m, the height of the towers 80 m. the Cathedral was constructed from 1211 until the beginning of XIV century.

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