German Romanesque

German Romanesque
German Romanesque

Romanesque art is one of the most relevant artistic styles throughout Europe, since its origin almost all countries have had Romanesque architecture to their credit since the style spread rapidly through the various territories, making each place would acquire its own characteristics. In this context, it seems easy to understand that Romanesque acquired notable differences between one territory and another in such a way that, even within the same style, French Romanesque can be clearly distinguished from Spanish or Italian.

However, in today's post we will talk about a type of Romanesque so unique that some have considered it a separate style, German Romanesque. It is without a doubt, the political and social environment of the Germanic kingdoms with its many peculiarities that will determine the architectural characteristics of this peculiar style. In this way and in an environment completely dominated by the imperial political power rather than by the ecclesiastical one, the Romanesque style should be a reflection of the power of the emperor.


German Romanesque is, of course,heir to the Carolingian and Ottonian forms –understood as the forms of a pre-Romanesque style- and, due to its chronology, extends from the X until well into the fifteenth century.

Regarding the characteristics of Romanesque constructions, we must point out that they are almost always type buildingsreligious, great monumental works that, as we pointed out above, reflected the power of the emperors. Churches often had three naves, of which the central one is higher and wider than the lateral ones, a double nave in the transept area and what is surely the most innovative and distinguishable element of this type of Romanesque,the double header or the westwerk.

In the late 19th century Wilhenm Elffmann first used the term westwerk to refer to the colossal development of the west portal in some churches and cathedrals of what would have been the Holy Roman Empire. In this way, at the foot of the temple, a very wide porch was developed on which a royal tribune was placed and it was flanked by two very high towers. This space was intended for the exclusive use of the emperor, from where he could listen to the service without being disturbed and, after all, once again represents the power of the sovereign, although this time, fused with ecclesiastical power.

To the very high towers of the portal we must add those that were located at the head and the significant height of the naves, all this means that those known as German Romanesque churches have acquired a remarkable verticality that differentiates them from the rest of Romanesque constructions.

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