Architectural Styles in Different Periods

Paper Info
Page count 3
Word count 1010
Read time 4 min
Topic Art & Design
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US


Admittedly, religious beliefs and traditions influence architectural styles immensely. Basically, people manifest their religious beliefs by constructing their sacred edifices. As Victor Hugo once noted, cathedrals (sacred buildings) were regarded as great and enduring books to reveal the history and the values of people.

Indian and Chinese caves

Caves can be regarded as most specific spiritual structures. Interestingly, though geography often dictates certain conventions in form, these caves are different in different cultures. For instance, Middle Binyang Cave (6th century AD, China) is quite different from Karle Chaitya Hall (India). The hall of the Chinese Middle Binyang Cave has almost square form (12m x 9.3m). It is decorated with several big sculptures (one of Buddha and several sculptures of bodhisattvas) (“Middle Binyang Cave,” n.p.). It is also decorated with reliefs of the emperor and empress. The cave is dedicated to Buddha. Its decoration reveals people’s worship of the supreme force and spiritual order.

However, Indian Cave Karle chaitya hall is phallic in its shape (“Chaitya Archive,” n.p.). It is very long. It is decorated with numerous columns with various sculptures of people and animals. The cave honors Hindu Goddess. This can explain the specific form of the hall, which symbolizes woman’s womb, sexuality which was an indispensable part of Indian spirituality. There are no sculptures of goddess or other deities in this cave. Interestingly, the form and decoration of the caves is different due to religious differences, but the entrances of the caves are different due to geography. The Chinese cave looks like a temple (windows and doors are carved) and there is a wooden roof. However, the Indian cave is carved in a rock, so there was no possibility to make it look like a Hindu Temple. The influence of geography is manifested in this difference. Admittedly, the Indian cave seems more sacred as it seems that it was created by the goddess herself. The form of the hall (long and quite dark) creates a very special atmosphere of spirituality and mystery.

Norman Romanesque and Romanesque styles

Gloucester Cathedral (Gloucestershire, England) was erected in 1100 (“Gloucester Cathedral,” n.p.). It can be regarded as one of the examples of Norman Romanesque architecture. Massive walls are the major signs of Romanesque architecture. However, the cathedral does not have the rich decoration of walls and columns. The walls are somewhat ascetic. Of course, the main difference is the great nave. The cathedral is much higher. This height and ascetic white walls symbolizes the glory of God. The height is aimed at making people understand their smallness and their dependence on the will of God (and the Church, of course).

Sant’Antimo Abbey (Tuscany, Italy) was built in 1118 (“Sant’Antimo Abbey,” n.p.). It is a typical Romanesque edifice. The walls are solid and they are decorated with sculptures, numerous columns are also decorated. The nave is not as high as in Norman Romanesque structures. The nave is wooden. This edifice stressed the greatness of Christianity and the Catholic Church. Therefore, the walls and columns were heavily decorated as this was the sign of richness and greatness of Christianity.

English Decorated and Islamic architecture

Exeter Cathedral (Exeter, England) is one of the best examples of English Decorated architecture (“Picture Gallery,” n.p.). Though the cathedral was erected earlier, it was reconstructed in 1265-1270. It was the time when it acquired the features of English Decorated Style. The cathedral is decorated with numerous sculptures and reliefs, it has beautiful stained-glass windows. All this decoration is aimed at amazing people. People should feel the greatness of the Church and Christianity. The decoration is also a sign that people were not that ascetic any more, they started to value beauty in everything.

Islamic architecture is quite similar to the style mentioned below. One of the examples of Islamic architecture is the Great Mosque of Damascus which was built in 715 (“Great Mosque of Damascus,” n.p.). The mosque, as any other Islamic mosque, is decorated with numerous mosaics and columns. This decoration is aimed at revealing the beauty of Islam. People should see the beauty of Islam when they come to prey. The decoration of the mosque is a kind of manifestation of people’s values. People wanted to create a home of their God which could be as beautiful as their deity and their religion.

The Early Gothic period, the High Gothic and the Flamboyant styles

One of the best examples of the Early Gothic style is Reims Cathedral (Champagne-Ardenne, France). It was erected in the 13th century. The decoration of the cathedral is quite scarce (“Reims Cathedral,” n.p.). It is possible to note that the cathedral is quite ascetic with its high walls, columns. Only stained-glass windows and some elements of decoration of arcs is present. These were the major signs of Gothic style: asceticism.

York Minster (York, England) was constructed between the 13th and 15th century. However, it can be regarded as an example of the High Gothic style (“York Minster,” n.p.). The cathedral is characterized by more elements of decoration. Apart from stained-glass windows, there are more decorations of columns and arcs.

As for the Flamboyant style, Cathedral of Rouen (Rouen, France) is the best example of this style (“Rouen, France,” n.p.). The cathedral was built in 1434. It is decorated with numerous curved elements. The interior and exterior are heavily decorated and there is no sign of asceticism at all. This cathedral is the final stage of Gothic style development which moved from purely ascetic to heavily decorated. Though, it is necessary to note that the structure of the building remained the same: very high naves, narrow and high windows with stained-glass. Of course, this architectural style is the best. The decoration makes the sacred place really stunning and people coming there can enjoy the beauty of the edifice and the beauty of their religion, their faith.


On balance, it is possible to state that architectural styles can be regarded as a kind of manifestation of people’s values and religious beliefs. Therefore, architectural styles develop and change in accordance with the change of society.

Works Cited

Chaitya Archive. Chaitya Archive, n.d. Web. 2011.

Gloucester Cathedral. Sacred Destinations, n.d. Web. 2011.

Great Mosque of Damascus. Architecture Week, n.d. Web. 2011

Middle Binyang Cave. Longmen Grottoes, 2011. Web.

Picture Gallery. Exeter Cathedral, 2011. Web.

Reims Cathedral. Sacred Destinations, n.d. Web. 2011.

Rouen, France. Rouen France, n.d. Web. 2011.

Sant’Antimo Abbey. Sacred Destinations., n.d. Web. 2011.

York Minster. York Minster, n.d. Web. 2011.

Cite this paper


EssaysInCollege. (2022, May 23). Architectural Styles in Different Periods. Retrieved from


EssaysInCollege. (2022, May 23). Architectural Styles in Different Periods.

Work Cited

"Architectural Styles in Different Periods." EssaysInCollege, 23 May 2022,


EssaysInCollege. (2022) 'Architectural Styles in Different Periods'. 23 May.


EssaysInCollege. 2022. "Architectural Styles in Different Periods." May 23, 2022.

1. EssaysInCollege. "Architectural Styles in Different Periods." May 23, 2022.


EssaysInCollege. "Architectural Styles in Different Periods." May 23, 2022.