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Cross the threshold into the world of the High Middle Ages and explore the illuminating wisdom, beauty and art of the Gothic cathedrals, stunning wonders of the medieval era for all to see today. From bejewelled stained glass windows to a pilgrimage “on the road” to Compostela, the wonders of Gothic architecture continue to inspire many worldwide. From the 12th century, the Gothic architectural style continued to spread throughout Europe. Highly-regarded medievalist Dr. Karen Ralls explores the legacy of this exquisite architectural period, whose artistic beauty and expert craftsmanship have served for centuries to inspire feelings of spiritual reverence and aesthetic wonder. She details the relationship between architecture, geometry, and music; explores the concept of the labyrinth; pilgrimage; Black Madonnas; astronomical calculations in the design and location of cathedrals; stone and wood carvings; gargoyles; the teachings of Pythagoras and the later Neo-Platonists, and more. For the general reader and specialist alike, Dr. Ralls guides the reader through the history, places, art, and symbolism of these unique "books in stone", providing a lively portal and solid resource for all. Lavishly illustrated with color photographs, a recommended reading section, lists of the major European cathedral sites and a full Bibliography, Gothic Cathedrals is a fascinating showcase of the mystic and spiritual symbolism found in these great structures of Europe, information that will help modern readers visit these sites and share in the energy of the sacred they continue to radiate.
Journey into twelve of the world's favorite medieval mysteries and cross the threshold into the world of the High Middle Ages. From Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" to Umberto Eco's "Name of the Rose" to Dan Brown's bestselling "The Da Vinci Code," the medieval period continues to intrigue, inspire, entertain and fascinate many today. For the general reader and specialist alike, medieval expert, former Rosslyn Chapel museum exhibition curator and bestselling author Dr. Karen Ralls guides the reader through the key historical facts, legends and lore, affiliated places and major symbolism of each of these 12 popular medieval enigmas, providing a lively introductory portal which includes some of the lesser-known, sidelined or unacknowledged aspects of each of these enduring topics. The story of each subject comes alive as never before, providing a solid introduction for all readers as well as further suggested resources for teachers and researchers. Also included are photographs, a recommended reading section, maps, a list of the key major sites associated with each topic, and a full Bibliography. Topics covered include: King Arthur, Merlin and GlastonburyThe Grail Quest Mary MagdaleneThe real meaning of Black MadonnasThe Knights Templar, the Cathers, and Rosslyn ChapelMedieval Guides and TroubadoursHeresy and Heretics Let this book serve as your personal pilgrimage back to the High Middle Ages - a time of potent symbolism, occult knowledge, and spiritual quests.
As modern tourist destinations, museums, and sites of archaeological and architectural study, medieval castles continue to captivate students of history and laymen alike. Medieval cathedrals, many refurbished and still in use, also inspire awe, inspiration, and historical interest. In this book, readers will be enthralled by the vivid imagery of the castles and cathedrals that remain all over Europe and the rich historical narratives their stories convey. This work will be a surefire hit with those seeking the history behind some of the most impressive and romantic castles ever constructed and the most soaring and grand cathedrals of the medieval era.
This substantive yet easy-to-use guide to selected French gothic churches and cathedrals provides profiles of fourteen important religious buildings. They are located in different parts of France, were constructed at different times and in different styles, and include both well-known and less well-known churches and cathedrals. They range from the tiny church of Saint Maclou in Rouenperhaps the best example of flamboyant designto the worlds most visited Gothic cathedral, Notre Dame in Paris. A second section of the book considers what a Gothic cathedral is as well as their medieval setting and the many architectural, artistic, and spiritual elements that comprise a Gothic cathedral. The guide is lavishly illustrated with photos and helpful images to help the readers derive the maximum benefit and pleasure from their Gothic church and cathedral visits.
Who is depicted in that stained glass window? What is the significance of those geometric figures? Why are there fierce-looking beasts carved amidst all that beauty? Is there a deeper purpose behind the play of light and space in the nave? Why is there a pelican on the lectern and ornate foliage on the pillars? The largely illiterate medieval audience could read the symbols of churches and cathedrals and recognise the meanings and stories deliberately encoded into them. For worshippers these were places of religious education and an awe-inspiring feast that satisfied both the senses and the soul. Today, in an age less attuned to iconography, such places of worship are often seen merely as magnificent works of architecture. This book restores the lost spiritual meaning of these fine and fascinating buildings. The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals provides a three-part illustrated key by which modern visitors can understand the layout, fabric and decorative symbolism of Christian sacred structures - thereby bringing back to life their original atmosphere of awe and sanctity. Part One is an analysis of structural features, outside and in, from spires and domes to clerestories and brasses. Part Two is a theme-by-theme guide, which identifies significant figures, scenes, stories, animals, flowers, and the use of numbers, letters and patterns in paintings, carvings and sculpture. Part Three is a historical decoder, revealing the evolution of styles - from basilicas through Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and beyond. For all those who seek to know more about Christian art and architecture, this richly illustrated book will instruct and delight in equal measure.
Great Gothic Cathedrals of France guides readers on a tour of twelve French cathedrals that best exemplify one of the greatest glories of Western civilization. From the beautiful facade of Notre-Dame in Paris to the transcendent beauty of the stained glass at Chartres, this book clarifies the significant elements of their architecture by means of its text and images. The cathedrals of Amiens, Paris, Saint Denis, Chartres, Reims, Laon, Noyon, Soissons, Sens, Beauvais, Bourges and Troyes as well as Sainte-Chapelle are all presented to give the reader and visitor to France a clear understanding of these extraordinary buildings. This publication also provides the reader with a chapter on how to "read" a stained glass window.

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