Pointed Arch
Ribbed Vault
Flying Buttress
Maps & Models

Architecture of Gothic Medieval Cathedrals

Limoges Cathedral Arch
Pointed Arch

The pointed arch is considered one of the defining characteristics of medieval churches constructed in the Gothic style, even though similar arches were in used in Middle Eastern architecture hundreds of years before they employed in Western Europe. Pointed arches were used to direct weight onto load-bearing columns at a sharp angle, thus allowing for much taller vaulted ceilings. Unlike earlier Romanesque style churches, Gothic churches emphasized height and verticality. Pointed arches are used throughout the cathedral in both structural and decorative openings, including in doorways and windows. Pointed arches are found in different shapes throughout cathedrals built during different periods. These arches include the lancet arch, equilateral arch, flamboyant arch, and the depressed arch.