In England, the same elaborate decoration is manifested in the Decorated style and Perpendicular style cathedrals. English cathedrals are distinguished by being long and horizontal.
With interesting variations and developments of the style, Gothic architecture has been adopted in different parts of Western Europe. Most cathedrals in Western Europe are defined by the Early English style, retaining the ponderous mural quality of earlier Norman architecture.
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.
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.