Amazing articles on just about every subject...

German Gothic - Examples

( Originally Published 1921 )


S. Gereon, Cologne (p. 295), on the site of a circular tomb house, 126 ft. in diameter, erected by Helena, mother of Constantine, has an unusual grouping, recalling the tomb house at Aix-la-Chapelle. The straight-sided choir with its sacristy dates from the Romanesque period (A.D. 1075). The eastern apse and towers were added in A.D. 1160, while the ten-sided nave, 66 ft. by 55 ft., oval on plan, was built (A.D. 121927) in the Gothic style with pointed windows, eaves gallery, and a pyramidal roof.

Limburg Cathedral (A.D. 121342) is a fine Transitional church, and with its seven towers forms an imposing group above the River Lahn.

The Liebfrauenkirche, Treves (A.D. 122743) (p. 490 A, B), forms part of the cathedral group, and is said to be a copy of Braisne Abbey Church, near Soissons. It is a Transitional building with both round and pointed arches ; the cruciform upper part has clear-story windows and a fine vault, and there is an elaborately sculptured western doorway.

S. Elizabeth, Marburg (A.D. 123383) (p. 486), is the typical " hall" church in which nave and aisles are of equal height, and thus there is no triforium or clear-story. The plan has nave and aisles, western entrance between two towers, and apses at the ends of the transepts and sanctuary.

The exterior is peculiar in having a continuous external walking way at the level of each stage of windows, carried right through the buttresses. Flying buttresses were unnecessary, and the interior has the appearance of a large columned hall (p. 486 A).

Cologne Cathedral (A.D. 12481322) (p. 485 A, B), the great Gothic church of Germany and the largest of Northern Europe, covering 91,000 square ft., is a conspicuous instance of the adoption of the details of a style, without having assimilated the spirit that created it. The huge plan has a width out of all proportion to its length, 468 ft. long by 275 ft. wide, and the nave, which has a clear span between the piers of 41 ft. 6 ins., is 150 ft. high, almost as high as Beauvais ; while the double aisles are equal in width to the nave and there are two enormous towers at the west end. The aisled transepts, with entrances, project one bay more than at Amiens, and the eastern half of the church, which is a reproduction of Amiens in plan and dimensions, has an apsidal end and processional aisle and chevet of seven chapels. The building, which was only finished, according to the original design, between the years A.D. 1824-80, displays a lack of proportion and an absence of judicious disposition of parts ; for the nave with its double aisles is disproportionately short for the width, the aisles are low in proportion to the height of the nave, while the twin western towers, overpowering in bulk at the base and monotonous in repetition of lace-like detail above, altogether dwarf the main building. In matters of the delicate adjustment of proportions, which test the greatness of a creation, German architects fall short of French masters. Cologne Cathedral nevertheless makes an imposing monument, as, with its great twin-towers 500 ft. high, it stands on the level plain of the wide Rhine valley.

The Frauenkirche, Nuremberg (A.D. 135461) (p. 490 c, D), is a " hall " church in the old market-place. Its immense roof covers nave and aisles, while its two-storeyed western porch is surmounted by a curious old clock with central figure of Charles IV and moving figures of the seven Electors, which appear at noon. The interior (p. 490 D) shows the equal heights of nave and aisles, separated by cylindrical piers with foliated capitals, encircled with figures, behind which spring the vaulting ribs.

S. Lambert, Hildesheim, S. Stephen, Mayence (A.D. 12571328), and S. Quentin, Mayence (A.D. 1450), are also hall " churches, while Munich Cathedral, S. Barbara, Kuttenberg, and S. Martin, Landshut (A.D. 1404), are also of similar type but of later date.

Freiburg Cathedral (A.D. 12831330) has a remarkable single western tower and spire 385 ft. high similar to those of Cologne. It is square at the base, which contains the porch, octagonal in its second stage, and terminates in a lace-like spire.

Ratisbon Cathedral (A.D. 12751534) (p. 485 c) is regular in plan and has three eastern apses without ambulatory, in the German manner; The west front flanked by towers and open-work crocketed spires, only added in A.D. 185969, has a beautiful little triangular porch in the centre (A.D. 1482).

Ulm Cathedral (A.D. 13771477) (p. 485 D), spacious and lofty, is an instance, not uncommon in Germany, of excellence in masonry and poverty in design, for the smallness of the ratio of the supports to the area produces an unpleasing interior. The polygonal eastern apse is without ambulatory. The exterior has an arcaded eaves gallery, due to Romanesque traditions, and a great western tower and spire, 529 ft. in height.

S. Stephen, Vienna (A.D. 13001510) (pp. 304 J, 489), is a characteristic " hall " church in Austria, without clear-story or triforium, for the three aisles are nearly equal in width and height, and the great roof covers the church in one span. The transepts serve as entrance porches, one of which is carried up as a tower terminated by a splendid spire, less open than usual in Germany. The vaults are traceried and the windows still contain some original stained glass.

Lubeck Cathedral and the Marienkirche, Lubeck, well express the possibilities of design in brickwork, so usual in North Germany.


Castles were erected in goodly numbers, as at Marienburg (A.D. 1280), and Meissen, Saxony (A.D. 1471), and the old fortified town of Rothenburg still retains its Mediaeval walls, with defensive towers (p. 491 B).

The Town Halls (Rathhaus) at Brunswick, Hildesheim, Cologne, Halberstadt, Munster, Ratisbon (Regensburg) (p. 491 G), Ulm, and Lubeck, are prominent and impressive buildings in these semi-independent German towns, and, with the town gates in the Baltic provinces, are evidences of the prosperity of those times.

The Custom House, Nuremberg (A.D. 1498) (p. 491 E), now used as a warehouse, is remarkable, with three storeys in the walls and no less than six storeys in its high roof.

The old houses, Brunswick (p. 491 A) and Nuremberg (p. 491 D), and the Kaiserworth, Goslar (p. 491 c), are characteristic examples of the secular architecture of the period, while timber houses, in which a lower storey of masonry supports a timber upper part, were frequent, as at Erfurt (p. 492 A), Hildesheim (p. 492 c), and elsewhere.

Domestic architecture was marked by lofty roofs which frequently had more storeys than the walls, and were provided with dormer windows to make a through current of air for their use as a " drying ground " for the large monthly wash. The planning of the roof-ridge, either parallel with or at right angles to the street, considerably influenced design ; thus in Nuremberg, where the ridge is generally parallel with the street, dormer windows are plentiful and party walls are finished off at the roof level with artistic treatment, while at Landshut and elsewhere the ridge at right angles to the street results in gables of great variety of design, often with a hoist in the top gable to raise goods from the ground level.

Home | More Articles | Email: