Comparing the Similarities Between the Architecture in the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period

The phrase “Middle Ages” is more about the Renaissance that followed it does about the era itself. The era started around the 14th century when the artists began to reflect back and celebrate the art and culture of the ancient Greece and Rome. The European artists thought that no scientific accomplishments had been made during the middle age era. There was an argument of the people of the middle ages squandering the advancements of their predecessors (Stoddard and Swaan, 1979).

The architecture of the middle age was less detailed with rounded arches and clear lines.

The architecture of this period focused on balance and form given that symmetry became important. In the middle ages, the churches were no longer constructed in the shape of crosses given that circles were being used to represent the perfection of the Almighty. In a number of homesteads, the key features that were notable during the middle age period included courtyards, domed roofs, and the use of columns as support structures (Gelernter, 1996).

During this period, the architecture was mainly focused on making advancements in the church, and this is the reason the design of churches shifted from cross-like structures to circular structures.

The middle age cathedrals were characterized by distinct features such as the rose window, steeples, and squared-off exterior walls. The structures were necessitated by the increasing need for support and stabilization in addition to the increasing concern during the middle age period to make reformations in the structure and model of the cathedrals. Thus, the architecture of this period was being driven by religion.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton

Proficient in: Architecture

5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The middle age architecture was designed using three styles viz the pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, and the gothic styles. The pre-Romanesque style was extensively used during the early middle age, and it was applied in the Russian church architecture, the Nose architecture, the Early Christian design, and the Austrian designs. The style was heavily used by the political and religious kingpins such as kings, popes, and other high-ranking ecclesiastic officials (King, 2013).

The Romanesque style was applied between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and it encompassed a pan-European style. It was characterized by the adoption of barrel vaults, pointed arches, and cruciform piers supporting vaults. The Gothic style was applied later in the twelfth century in the Île de France area, and it was characterized by ribbed stone vaults, pinnacles, and clustered columns.

The medieval architecture came in after the fall of Rome when the Catholic Church was the most prevailing society. Architectural skills were exploited during the period to show devotion to the church. Through that, grand cathedrals and other ecclesiastical structures such as monasteries were built. Between the 10th and the 13th centuries, for instance, cathedrals were built in the Romanesque style and later on the Gothic architecture. Even as Gothic and Romanesque architecture were utilized during the medieval era, the artists painted the church interiors and made other decorations as a continual show of devotion to the church.

The architecture of the Renaissance era was less religion centered and the design of the structures revolved around secularity and classical reason. During this period, the architecture concentrated mostly on the design of castles and other homes of Europe’s richest rulers. In the Renaissance era, there was a significant transformation in the painting of objects that focused minimally on the aspects of the church and other heavenly attributes. In addition to this, the paintings of the architectural objects during the Renaissance era contained more realism especially the human objects that were frequently used during this period.

The change in the architectural designs from religion-centered designs during the middle age, to the secular models during the Renaissance era were motivated by secular ideals that were being propagated during the period. Besides, the architectural designs that were based on the ideals of realism were necessitated by the increasing awareness and development of human abilities and thought that led to an increase in science and reason.

In the Renaissance era, the design of buildings reflected regional diversity particularly in Europe where the common features that were evident reflected a system of shared interests, principles, and practices. The common architectural designs of the churches reflected the existence of shared and common liturgical needs that were hugely symbolic to Rome. However, there existed differences in the design of some structures given that some clear patterns were not established during the Renaissance era such as the Villa and Palace architecture.

The existence of religion wars in Europe also contributed to the stalling of common architectural designs for churches given that it discouraged the construction of large religious facilities. The designs of home structures such as villas were influenced by the descriptions of the pleasure retreats such as the Hadrian’s villa and Pliny the Younger villa. There existed differences in the way of the decoration of building during the middle age and the Renaissance era. Painting works at the cathedrals was different since it was based on the styles of architecture employed by artists. The middle age era involved Gothic styles, the use of pointed arches, and elaborate detail. The Church builders were therefore forced to embrace other art forms in decoration and finishing of the interior of the churches.

For instance, Frescoes and mosaics were used in decorating church interiors as artists did the paintings of religious pictures on the Church walls. On the other hand, the renaissance era was characterized by rounded arches and clear lines focusing on less detail. The structures used during the Renaissance era were to involve less details hence the painting done was also not conspicuous as in the medieval era. The paintings done in the late medieval and Renaissance in Italy repeatedly showed the way of life of Jesus and the call for the Christians to live in a manner similar to that of Jesus Christ. During the middle ages, most paintings were done to illustrate traditional practices as opposed to the Renaissance era when images were painted to stress the birth and death of Jesus Christ (Goldthwaite, 1982).

In addition, the Renaissance period buildings were focused on balance and form thus indicating the increasing demand for stability and support of the building structures. Renaissance cathedrals such as the Basilica of St. Peter were designed as square or rectangular symmetrical shapes. The fronts of the churches were also generally symmetrical around the vertical axis. The columns used were those of the Roman origin while the ceilings were flat. The design in the renaissance era deviated from the religious-centered middle age designs owing to the increasing quality of housing, churches, and public spaces. Moreover, there was a departure from religion-centered designs owing to the religious war that existed in Europe. Besides, people wanted to live and enjoy life, and this necessitated the revolution in building designs.

The music played during the medieval and renaissance era was different due to the vocal works preferred by artists during the two periods in history. The aspects of music as a work of art during the Medieval and Renaissance era can be compared depending on the vocal works in each piece of art. During the Middle Ages era, for instance, portions of scripture were set to traditional Roman melodies at some point of time in the early Christian period. The works were later organized into official Church repertoire, largely under the reign of Pope Gregory.

Renaissance music, on the other hand was the rival of the classical culture. The composers of the music embraced the classical principles of simplicity and clarity since there was no surviving ancient music to emulate. Throughout the middle ages era, composers elevated polyphonic music to greater heights of complexity while the Renaissance composers preferred melodies and harmonies of greater simplicity and clarity (Kinnon, 1975).

There existed significant differences in the design of home houses during the medieval era and the Renaissance period. In the middle age period, the design of home houses was rather conservative given that religion had a significant consequence on the people’s lives. The design of the home houses was inspired by the Germanic adoption of the Roman architecture (Poppeliers & Chambers Jr, 2003). However, during the Renaissance era, the houses that people lived in were designed taking into account the individuals’ needs to enjoy and live life.

Moreover, people wanted more comfortable housing, and the size and location of the houses depicted the individual’s wealth and status in the society. The architectural designs during the Renaissance age inspired the building’s design in the modern times given that people began to appreciate the need for balance and form in the buildings that were being put up. Moreover, the emphasis towards rounded arches and clear lines of the buildings led to the construction of more comfortable buildings, decorated, well-planned, well-furnished, and surrounded by nice environs.

Cite this page

Comparing the Similarities Between the Architecture in the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period. (2023, Feb 18). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7