German and Spanish Gothic

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German and Spanish Gothic architecture was greatly inspired by French models. The Spanish style, however, was modified in the direction of greater ornamental display, influenced by Moorish models; while the German style has enormous towers and spires made of lacy openwork.

Italian Gothic

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In Italy, height was subordinated to width, in preservation of Romanesque proportions. Italian Gothic cathedrals use many colors both on the exterior and the interior. The façade is also often decorated with marble and the inside is painted plaster.

French Gothic Architecture

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The first significant Gothic landmark was the ambulatory of the abbey of Saint-Denis in France. It embodied the first daring use of large areas of glass. It influenced the cathedrals of Sens, Noyon, Laon, and Paris. In the later years of the period, further reduction of opaque wall surfaces in favor of screens of stone tracery and glass emerged, forming the Gothic Rayonnant style, characterized by walls made almost entirely of glass, supported by a thin skeletal frame of masonry. Limestone was the main building material used in France as it was soft to cut, but gets harder when the air and rain get on it. Limestone gives a pale gray color and it is perfect for making very fine carvings. French cathedrals were often very high, both inside and outside, with the facades having three doors, a rose window, and two towers.

Gothic Style

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The Gothic style is spikily linear and restlessly active, reflecting the exalted religious intensity during the Middle Ages. During its later phase, Gothic construction is characterized by lightness and soaring spaces. The system of flying buttresses allowed the reduction of wall surfaces by relieving them of part of their structural function. Great windows could be set into walls, admitting light through vast expanses of stained glass. One important element of Gothic architecture is the spiritual and mysterious quality of light, reflecting religious symbolism.