Back to Medieval New York Page | Back to St. John's Introduction

The Cathedral Church
of St. John the Divine

cathedral D
Romanesque and Gothic

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine was built in its early stages based upon a design that accentuated Romanesque features of Cathedral Architecture. Romanesque and Gothic were the prevailing Cathedral styles.

Romanesque architecture includes the following elements: round, arched arcades that support wooden roofs or stone vaulting, and small windows amidst large stone walls. Each portion of the Cathedral, while connected to other parts of the church, remains its own unit (Cathedrals and Churches - Romanesque).


Gothic architecture possesses a more unified approach. The creation of buttresses, reinforcements situated on the roof of the structure, allowed Gothic cathedrals to be built much higher than their Romanesque predecessors. Moreover, the immense walls and slit windows were replaced by large caverns filled with stained glass depicting various religious scenes. The height reached by a Gothic cathedral became a status symbol for the town of its location. Thus, the construction of Gothic cathedrals (and to an extent, the Romanesque cathedrals) contained an element of competitive "one-upmanship" among various European communities during this time period (Cathedrals and Churches - Gothic ).

Cathedral E

Cathedral F

Guide to Architectural Terms
Pertaining To the Cathedral

Cassie 3
  • Apse - A projecting part of a building that is semicircular in plan and vaulted
  • Ambulatory - A sheltered path for walking
  • Choir - The part of a church where the services are performed
  • Transept - The part of a cruciform church that crosses at right angles to the greatest length between the nave and the apse or choir
  • Nave - The long narrow central hall in a cruciform (shaped like a cross) church that rises higher than the aisles flanking it to form a clerestory
  • Narthex - A vestibule leading to the nave of a church

(Definitions taken from the Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

This Page is part of the Medieval New York Web Project, a project of students in the Introduction to Medieval History courses taught by Paul Halsall in the History Department of Fordham University in 1996-1997.

© Copyright to the student creator of each page