Pointed Arch
Ribbed Vault
Flying Buttress
Maps & Models

Architecture of Gothic Medieval Cathedrals

Catedral Nueva de Plasencia Vault Ceiling
Ribbed Vault

A ribbed vault is an arched form created by the intersection of two or three barrel vaults used to support the weight of walls or a ceiling or roof. Using a combination of pointed arches and ribbed vaulting allowed cathedral walls to be built thinner, higher, and allowed more space for openings, such as doorways and windows. Unlike previous churches constructed in the bulky Romanesque style, the interior of Gothic churches seemed open, more spacious, and lighter. Ribbed vaults could look utilitarian or highly decorative depending on where the vault was located in the cathedral.