Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late
medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by
Originating in 12th-century France and lasting into the 16th century, Gothic
architecture was known during the period as Opus Francigenum, "French work", with the
term Gothic first appearing during the latter part of the Renaissance. Its
characteristics include the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress.
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
It is in the great churches and cathedrals and in a number of civic buildings that the
Gothic style was expressed most powerfully, its characteristics lending themselves to
appeals to the emotions, whether springing from faith or from civic pride. A great
number of ecclesiastical buildings remain from this period, of which even the smallest
are often structures of architectural distinction while many of the larger churches are
considered priceless works of art and are listed with UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
For this reason a study of Gothic architecture is largely a study of cathedrals and
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.
The term "Gothic architecture" originated as a pejorative description. Giorgio Vasari
used the term "barbarous German style" in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters,
Sculptors, and Architects to describe what we now consider the Gothic style, and in the
introduction to the Lives he attributes various architectural features to "the Goths"
whom he holds responsible for destroying the ancient buildings after they conquered
Rome, and erecting new ones in this style. At the time in which Vasari was writing,
Italy had experienced a century of building in the Classical architectural vocabulary
revived in the Renaissance and seen as evidence of a new Golden Age of learning and