Church Elevation

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The floorplans of gothic churches were very much alike with their wide, long naves, surrounding aisles, chiors and ambulatories. The elevations of gothic churches were also much alike.

 

The elevation is the horizontal divisions along the walls.


Most churches had an arcade. That included the aisle and the line of piers that separated the aisle from the nave.


Above the arcade is the triforium, which is basically another, second story arcade. Some churches had what was called a gallery. This was a large triforium with lots of space for people. In medieval times, the men would worship from the nave and the women and children would worship from the gallery. But the smaller, more cramped triforium took over as the more widely adapted second story feature of gothic churches. The triforium is basically a maintenance feature, with just enough room for workers to walk up and down over the arcade, cleaning out dead birds and hanging banners from the piers.


Above the triforium is the clerestory. This is an area of almost solid window space, from where the main part of the church gets most of its light.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The visible floorplan and elevations are shown. Notre Dame has a gallery rather than a triforium.

Floor plans were pretty much the same for most medieval churches. Most had an apse with a choir, ambulatory and radiating chapels. They had a nave, transept and surrounding aisles.

 

They had all this, but how they kept it standing changed a lot over a few hundred years.