Art of Europe: The Middle Ages (preview)

A preview of Rick Steves Art of Europe: The Middle Ages. Watch the full episode at, or check your local public television listings.

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Rick Steves, America’s most respected authority on European travel, writes European travel guidebooks, and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio.


Foreign The Middle Ages spanned a thousand years From about 500 to 1500 the first half Was a time of relative poverty and Economic stagnation then around the year One thousand Europe rebounded that story It's turmoil and triumphs is reflected In the Magnificent art and architecture Of the age we start after the fall of Rome as the flickering flame of Civilization was kept alive in Monasteries and in fortress-like Churches we'll see how Europe was Invigorated by Neighbors on the fringes From Christian Byzantium to Islamic Spain To the Pagan Vikings of the North Then we step into the high Middle Ages Marveling at formidable castles Radiant Gothic cathedrals And art that both dazzled the faithful And celebrated secular life as Europeans Approached the dawn of a new age [Music] By the year 1000 Europe was on the rise Entering a period called the high Middle Ages it was the time of growing Innovation trade and travel Christianity Was dominant and people celebrated their Faith by building great structures the Imposing Romanesque style was eventually Eclipsed by an even grander style Gothic Gothic was an architectural leap forward With taller and taller churches reaching

For the heavens and filled with more and More light [Music] Fueled by their faith Europeans built Towering Cathedrals to the glory of God Each Community tried to outdo the other With churches featuring soaring knaves Supported by elaborate pointed arches And flooded with light Gothic seemed to Be emblematic of a Europe moving upward And onward The gothic style was born in France in The 12th century the cathedral in chart One of the first greatest and most Influential Gothic churches captures the Spirit of this age of Faith as the Middle Ages were nicknamed Magnificent structures were built by the Sweat of peasants construction projects That dominated entire communities for Generations All for the glory of God Towering churches like this became sight Switch for centuries broke distant Horizons heartening the weary spirits of Approaching pilgrims Gothic churches were taller and brighter Than the earlier Romanesque they were Made with a skeleton of support the key To Gothic is the pointed Arch a Romanesque church is built with round Arches with a round Arch the weight Pushes down but with a pointed Arch the Weight pushes not down but out as a tour

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Guide it's fun to demonstrate this by Building a Gothic Cathedral out of Tourists You start with six columns these will Support the roof with ribs ignore the Elbows coming together with pointed Arches the key to Gothic is the pointed Arch a Romanesque church is built with Round arches with a round Arch the Weight sits squarely on the wall and it Needs to be thick and strong if a round Arch collapses it falls down but if you Point The Arches suddenly the weight of The roof pushes not down but out so Rather than thick walls you need to Buttress the building by adding support Pushing in so you need six more tourists To be buttresses with buttresses rather Than thick walls supporting the church The walls are freed to become window Holders letting in more light to free up Even more wall space you can make the Buttresses flying buttresses with their Support flying in with more arches Are you guys ready for a spider yes Okay now when the Spire is raised Because of the pointed arches the weight Goes out rather than down and with Buttresses in place everything is solid Windows can fill the spaces between the Columns and you've built a gothic church Out of tourists [Music] [Applause]