Tag Archives: Romanesque

San Martín church in Frómista: Romanesque pilgrimage perfection and a figurine of a one-armed hobo

San Martín church in Frómista, Spain is the archetype of a Romanesque pilgrimage church.  Obviously I’m crazy about the place. It’s the clarity of the structure I love most of all.  Notice the precision of the architectural elements and the way the building cleanly meets the plaza. San Martín was built quickly—in about 15 years […]

The finest Romanesque mustaches are at Moissac Abbey

This church. The elegant forms.  The fantastic creatures.  The visionary composition.  The mustaches. Moissac Abbey is one of the great Romanesque churches (and admittedly deserves much better photos than what we managed with our crappy camera).  The South portal, created 1120 – 1135, and the tympanum are a masterful sculptural illustrations of the vision of […]

A day at Cathédrale Ste-Marie in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges followed by a night of flocked velvet wallpaper

Cathédrale Ste-Marie is a pilgrim magnet.  Once you catch sight of this Romanesque-Gothic beauty at the foot of the Pyrenees in the village of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges you are inevitably  pulled in by it’s compelling attraction. Don’t you want to come closer? Unlike the scenery, the weather during our visit to Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges was less than idyllic.  Not to put […]

Saint-Just Basilica in Valcabrère, recycled Roman ruins, no cheese shops

Saint-Just Basilica is cozily nestled in the tiny village of Valcabrère, population 164, in the Haute-Garonne department of Southwest France.  This small Romanesque church built in 11th -12th centuries is handsomely proportioned, with well-preserved portal sculptures.  As if the setting wasn’t picturesque enough, what with the red chickens clucking about, antique barns and strategically placed […]

Romanesque frescoes in San Isidoro de León

The Chicago Public Library once had a book on Romanesque art I repeatedly checked out, renewed the maximum amount of times, and then immediately put on hold again.  I’d leave bookmarks inside of the artworks I planned to visit, and the book would usually return to me with my bookmarks intact.  One of the bookmarked […]

Mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale

We’ve already established that I suck at history, and while we’re on the topic of embarrassing self-disclosures, I confess I didn’t realize until recently that Normans were French.  Here’s what I do know about Normans (other than that they all seem to have been named William): they built some gorgeous Romanesque buildings.  In Sicily, once […]

The next time you’re in Vézelay tell the people with the elephant ears I said hi

We were all alone in Vézelay’s Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Abbey, the light was fading, darker, darker…and then we climbed down into the crypt.  No, not actually a horror story ending, but in fact the ending to a perfect day, a day we spent from sunup to sundown in and around one of the world’s greatest Romanesque churches. Vézelay […]

A brief but affectionate history of the arch

I have a crush on arches.  Technically an arch is any rounded architectural structure that spans an opening.  The curve of the arch disperses the vertical weight it holds horizontally to allow for greater distance between supports.  But let’s leave the technical details to the engineers–what you need to know is this: arches are practical, arches […]

The Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay: thumbs up from Bernard of Clairvaux

You know those fantastical hybrid animal monsters abounding in Romanesque church art?  They really pissed off Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux.  I love to read and re-read his attack on Romanesque art extravagances in his Apologia c. 1124: But these are small things; I will pass on to matters greater in themselves, yet seeming smaller because they […]

Rendezvous with my favorite artist, Gislebertus, at the Cathedral of Saint Lazare in Autun

The stone carvings at the Cathedral of Autun by my favorite artist, French Romanesque sculptor Gislebertus, knocked my socks off, made me laugh, and terrified me all at once.  Listen to me people: this is the real deal, some of the finest art you can ever see.  Sure, I want you to look at the pictures, […]