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Even when not in Rome, do as the Romans do

 Francis Rodriguez,  Old Supreme Court Building  (21 May 2009). CC-BY-2.0

Francis Rodriguez, Old Supreme Court Building (21 May 2009). CC-BY-2.0

Romanesque Architecture

We might stare in awe at some of the beautifully designed historical buildings in Singapore without realizing that we are looking at a mirror image of another civilization. Did you know that the Old Supreme Court, the Fullerton Hotel and City Hall are strongly influenced by the Roman architecture of 5th century CE? Architecture serves a very important role in showing us the historical influences that have shaped its development over the years. It is crucial in connecting us to the civilizations of the past.

My group is focusing on the historical influences that led to the development of Romanesque architecture. Romanesque Architecture was prominent in Europe between mid 10th century CE to 12th century CE, particularly in Germany, France and Italy ("Romanesque Europe", page 340).

The first instance of Romanesque architecture was observed in 9th century CE when Charlemagne, the Frankish King, was crowned as the Holy Roman Emperor 1 . ("Influences," page 204) During his reign, the Papacy 2 had greater power and there was a strong Christian influence on the way of life. Charlemagne also wanted to recreate the eminence of the Christian Roman Empire. As a result, he had a series of ecclesiastical 3 buildings built using Roman construction techniques("The Big Picture," page 337). After Charlemagne’s death (late 9th century CE), the Carolingian Empire disintegrated. It was only re-consolidated in mid 10th century CE by the Ottonians 4 . The Ottonian emperors similarly wanted to recreate the Roman empire. They conserved the practices of the Carolingian Empire and had more churches built in the Roman style.

The period between 9th century CE to 10th century CE is commonly known as pre-Romanesque. While the structures between the pre-Romanesque and Romanesque periods are very similar, the latter can be distinguished by an improvement in architectural techniques and increased prosperity.

The architectural techniques in the Romanesque period ensured that architectural elements such as round arches, barrel vaults and groin vaults, had a closer resemblance to early Roman architecture ("Architectural Character," page 207). Moreover, an increase in prosperity caused a frenzied increase in the creation of ecclesiastical buildings("Influences," page 204). The Christian community strove to be build monumental buildings 5 to show their devotion to God. As a result, the structures in the Romanesque period were beautifully modeled.

Towards the later half of the 12th century CE, the architectural style of buildings began to change. Roofs and arches began to be more pointed and the improved architectural techniques allowed for the building of sturdier walls. This eventually paved the way for Gothic Architecture ("Architectural Basics," page 378).

  1. The Franks were a Germanic tribe. "Holy" was a title given to Christian emperors. Charlemagne's empire is also known as the Carolingian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. It spanned across modern day France, Germany and Italy.
  2. The rule of the Pope
  3. Ecclesiastical is a term used to describe structures related to the Christian church.
  4. A line of Saxon emperors. The saxons were another Germanic tribe.
  5. Structures built during this period had very high roofs and intricately decorated elements. They were meant to be aesthetically pleasing.


Academic sources:

Armi, C. Edson. Parts and Words in Romanesque Architecture. (09/01/2015) Gesta (Fort Tryon Park, N.Y.).

Charles, Victoria, and Klaus Carl. Romanesque Art, edited by Victoria Charles, and Klaus Carl, Parkstone International, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Dierckx, Heidi M.C. Greek and Roman Civilizations. (2012) Google Books.

Greek and Roman architecture. From National Library Board Singapore. Accessed 13 April 2017.

Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner's Art through the Ages: A Global History, Volume 1.(2015) Google Books.

Salvan, George S. Arch. Char. & The History of Arch. (2005) Google Books.

Stalley, R. A. Early Medieval Architecture. (1999) Google Books.

Stephenson, David. Heavenly Vaults. (01/09/2009) Princeton Architectural Press.


Post 1: Daisy.images, Colosseum (15 November 2009) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Post 2: Daisy.images, Colosseum (15 November 2009) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Post 3: Aoudot25 , Maison Carrée (4 July 2011) CC BY-SA 3.0

Post 4: Nuno Cardoso, Cattedrale di Pisa (6 July 2015) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Post 5: Harro52, Speyer Cathedral (1 November 2012) CC-BY-SA-3.0

Post 6 Picture 1: Camster, Abbey of Saint-Foy (14 July 2007) CC-BY-SA-3.0-migrated

Post 6 Picture 2: Harro52, Speyer Cathedral (1 November 2012) CC-BY-SA-3.0

Post 7: Harro52, Speyer Cathedral (1 November 2012) CC-BY-SA-3.0

Post 8: Oliver-Bonjoch, Durham Cathedral (13 August 2010) CC-BY-SA-3.0

Post 9: Francis Rodriguez, Old Supreme Court Building (21 May 2009). CC-BY-2.0