A History of Romanesque Architecture

300 AD -1300 AD

Google-Earth Map

of all locations

The objective of this collection is to present an illustrated survey of "Romanesque" architecture in Western Europe and the Near East, which brings together over 250 churches and cathedrals from the earliest beginnings of Christian architecture to the Gothic. Each example is illustrated with the best images I could find, my own and from the internet.

This period of Art History is amply documented in innumerable treatises and coffee-table books, why add another illustrated review? The answer becomes apparent when one downloads the Google Maps provided for the four chapters.

In contrast to the customary presentation of architectural history this essay is arranged in chronological order. The exact geographical locations are given by the GE maps. This allows one to compare the development of different architectural styles in time and space. It leads to the "discovery" of, for instance, the seminal character of the architecture of Syria, Armenia, Georgia, Byzantium, the Goths in Spain, the in 336 excommunicated heretic Ariani-Christians, and the Anglo-Saxons in England.

Two styles of early Christian architecture originated in the East in the 3rd-4th cent.: a Basilica and a centralized Cruciform Church plan. The Basilica derived from Roman provincial palaces in Syria and elsewhere, hence the designation "Romanesque Architecture". Because of the need of the large western congrations the Basilica spread West.

The Centralized Cruciform design, distantly related to Roman baths and often erected over the tombs of Saints, is the basic shape of Byzantine architecture in the East. The greatest example is, of course, the Hagia Sofia (532) in Constantinople

Another intent of this collection is to show lesser known buildings together with the famous cathedrals. The small, remote churches often have retained their original shape, mosaics, and frescoes - a special interest of mine - which were lost to progressive modifications in the great cathedrals. Some rare frescoes are found in the Spanish Mozarab churches. The churches of Ravenna house the most beautiful examples of mosaics from the 6th century. Finally, in the 12th-13th century, in Florence, in Venice, in the Norman churches of Sicily, and in Constantinople a last outburst of glorious Byzantine gold mosaics took place, which concludes my collection of pictures.

I have collected a selection of lesser known churches and many of the famous cathedrals on Google Maps. My selection is notabene incomplete and reflects my personal likes and interests. - Obviously, there are hundreds of other notable examples. I am open to qualified suggestions.

I have no credentials in art history, besides having studied historical buildings with open eyes for over 60 years and in many countries.

Left out of these pages are the churches of Russia (11th-18th cent). They require a separate website and a different approach. You find that under Icons and Churches of Old Rus on my website.

Rolf Gross, Pacific Palisades, February 2013


Roman 300-600 AD
Google Map 1

Pre-Romanesque 700-900 AD
Google Map 2

Early Romanesque 1000-1100 AD
Google Map 3

High Romanesque 1200-1300 AD
Part 1. France and Germany
Part 2. Spain, the East, the Last Mosaics

Google Map 4