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Vajdahunyad Castle



Abbey Church

Romanesque architecture developed during the Medieval era of Europe, between the 6th and 10th century. It is characterized by the frequent use of semi-circular arches.

This style is a combination of Roman and Byzantine buildings.

In Europe, Romanesque is more commonly referred to as Norman architecture because the buildings were instigated by William the Conqueror, who invaded Europe with his army. They were descendants of vikings, who were known as Normans, Norse and Northern Men. [1]

Across the country, the style is seen on many Castles, and even more churches. The Great Abbey Churches are the most significant churches of this era and represent the style in all its glory. During the era, buildings of all sorts were constructed with this style, domestic and commercial being the most rare.


Romanesque is referred to by historians as "Pan-European architecture with both the manner of construction and the style having a consistency that stretches geographically from Ireland to the Balkans." Controversially, this statement isn't agreed upon by all historians. It is argued that the style is more influenced by building and engineering methods opposed to cultural influence by the church.

Since the Roman Empire, Romanesque was the first style to be seen consistently across Europe including North Italy and parts of France. Unfortunately, many Roman engineering innovations were lost during that time including the ability to vault large spaces and build large domes. But the one innovation that remained was the use of the arch.

Some events that allowed Romanesque architecture to develop and spread like a virus across Europe included:

  • Charlemagne's determination to revive the old Roman Empire. No major buildings had been constructed for 200 years previous to his reign, therefore, he looked to the roman building and engineering practices. [2]
  • The Crusades, bringing new trades skills and the excitement of religion.
  • The spike in church construction during this era.

Romanesque became the base for the more intricate Gothic style and Romanesque Revival.

Features and Use In Building Construction

West facing church tower

Unlike traditional Roman architecture, which relies on columns, pilasters and arches to support the system, Romanesque architecture relies on walls and piers (sections of walls.)

The arches in these buildings were always semi-circular and were used for doors, windows, vaults and arcades - a row of arches supported on piers or columns. A distinguishing feature of Romanesque windows is multiple arches divided by a pillar or colonette.

The east end of a Romanesque church is almost always semi-circular. The west end is usually symmetrical and often has a tower and the main entrance to the church. The towers took many different shapes and forms. The larger towers are square with multiplying openings as the tower grows. The smaller churches often had bell gables instead of towers.

Building Materials

Interior Church, note timber frames ceiling, stained glass and archades

The walls were constructed to be exceptionally thick and often had two shells filled with rubble. The material of the walls depended on what was available in the area. In Italy, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands, the structures were mostly composed of brick. Other areas used limestone, granite and flint.

The majority of the roofs were composed of wood trusses. All different types of vaults were used, including barrel, ribbed and pointed.

The interiors had a variety of different ceiling finishes. The most common was to have an open timber roof or ribbed vaults because architects at this time had not understood how to span the two sides using stone.

The decorations took on the culture of the location often incorporating floral or curvilinear patterns. Large spaces were often plastered and painted, with focus on the East end. Archading and sculpturing were the most common forms of decoration. Murals and stained glass were also a common method of decoration and expressed religious believes. [3]

Examples of Romanesque Condominiums

Park Laurel 15 West 63rd Street, New York City, NY

Park Laurel Penthouse Kitchen

Park Laurel towers over New York's famous Central Park.

The historic YCMA is next to the building and due to air rights, Park Laurel will forever have an unobstructed view.

The exterior is composed of brick with white limestone detailing, which captures the Romanesque style.

The building contains 56 units within its 41 floors along with a fitness center and childrens playroom. There are also full time doorman services.

One Hanson Place 1 Hanson Place, New York City

One Hanson Place Interior Lobby

One Hanson Place was built in 1972 and was originally the tallest building in Brooklyn for over 80 years.

The buildings most distinctive feature is its four sided clock tower. The units range from studios to penthouse duplexes, all with large windows that allow occupants to enjoy the stunning views of Brooklyn.

Some of the features include 10 foot ceilings, hardwood floors limestone tiling, and modern kitchens. Amenities include a children's playroom, a fitness centre, bicycle storage and more.


  1. Smart History - Romanesque
  2. Smart History - Romanesque
  3. Wikipedia - Romanesque architecture
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