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Belgium, 12th century
The Romanesque style is called that because it is a little like Roman architecture, but it is made around 1000-1200 AD instead of during the Roman Empire.
Between the time of Charlemagne (about 800 AD) and the beginning of Romanesque two hundred years later, people had built practically no big new buildings. Everybody was too busy fighting each other and trying to get enough to eat, and they were too poor to build anything fancy. But by about 975, things were beginning to settle down, and by 1000 kings and queens like William the Conqueror were beginning to order important, stone buildings again, like St. Germain des Pres in Paris.
Mostly castles and churches are built in the Romanesque style. You can see Romanesque buildings all over France, England, Italy, Germany and in Northern Spain.
Caen - Abbaye aux Dames (the Women’s Abbey)
Some examples of Romanesque buildings are the Women’s Abbey and the Men’s Abbey in Caen, France. Both built around 1050 AD. Just a little later, you have the cathedral and baptistery of Pisa, Italy built about 1060 and 1150 AD, the church of St. Sernin in Toulouse (1080 AD), and the baptistery of Florence, Italy, built around 1100 AD.
Caen - Abbaye aux Hommes (the Men’s Abbey)
Romanesque buildings were made of stone, but often had wooden roofs because people were still not very good at building stone roofs yet. If they did have stone roofs, the walls had to be very thick in order to hold up the roofs, and there couldn’t be very many windows either, so Romanesque buildings were often very heavy and dark inside.
They had round arches, like Roman buildings and decorated column capitals like the Romans too, only Romanesque capitals have carvings of people or animals on them instead of plants. After the Romanesque period in architecture, around 1200 AD, most people in Western Europe began to build Christian churches, palaces and cathedrals in Gothic style. The easiest difference to see between the two styles is that while Romanesque churches have round arches, Gothic churches have pointed arches.
But there are a lot of other differences as well. Gothic buildings have many more windows and much bigger windows and so they are not dark like Romanesque buildings.