Gothic Cathedrals: Getting Lost in Towers and Spires

I have always appreciated architecture and have a particular soft spot for gorgeous, gothic cathedrals. When I was in Paris for the first time last year, I was forever looking around at all of the stunning baroque buildings and my eyes widened every time I spotted the Eiffel Tower. But it was the Notre Dame Cathedral that topped the list as my favourite attraction of all.

Gothic architecture is just so visually stimulating. All that detail, all that grandness. Aside from the aesthetic appeal, these buildings come with so much interesting history. But even if you do not know the real historical events that unravelled behind the stone walls, it is not hard to let your own imagination run wild, picturing the Hunchback of Notre Dame peering out of the shadows of the bell tower.

The Notre Dame Cathedral has so many interesting angles, with great tall towers and spires shooting up into the air. Then there are those grotesque faces of the gargoyles to watch out for, which literally send a shiver down your spine.

One of my favourite examples of gothic architecture is Lincoln Cathedral, which was used as a setting for the filming of the Da Vinci Code. This is such a pretty cathedral. The medieval marvel is stunning on the worst of days, but looks at its best when the sky is bright blue, complementing the luminous limestone.

There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore inside and outside the cathedral and it has some amazing arches and statues.

Lincoln Cathedral becomes even more golden at night when it is lit up – shining brightly like a beacon over the darkened city.

An example of a 20th century interpretation of gothic architecture is Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. This is a particularly dark and haunting cathedral, brimming with atmosphere.

The atmosphere gets even more spooky following the tombstone-lined path down to a Victorian cemetery hidden in its shadows. St James Cemetery looks like a scene straight out of a horror movie and is the resting place for a number of poor souls including sea captains and murder victims.

Do you like gothic cathedrals? Which is your favourite?




  1. January 13, 2012 / 14:06

    Great article on Gothic architecture! I love Gothic style. Obviously as you pointed out its kinda impossible to beat Notre Dame but Liverpool’s Cathedral is really amazing too. The scale is just there. Love it!

  2. January 13, 2012 / 17:55

    Hi Amer, thank you very much for your comment! Glad you liked the article. The Notre Dame is definitely in a league of its own but there are so many other beautiful cathedrals out there as well.

  3. January 14, 2012 / 00:17

    I also love gothic cathedrals and Notre Dame is certainly one of my favorites. But the one that truly left me in awe was Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) in Cologne, Germany. It’s enormous and the detail is amazing.

    • January 14, 2012 / 11:48

      Hi Cathy, I’ve only ever seen this cathedral in pictures but would love to visit someday. It looks pretty breathtaking. Thanks.

  4. January 14, 2012 / 14:15

    My husband and I love touring cathedrals – so gorgeous and so much time spent on detail. We loved the cathedral in Cologne, Germany. Lit up at night, it was magnificent.

    • January 14, 2012 / 17:25

      Hi Jan, it sounds amazing. I can’t wait to see it for myself one day. I’ve seen a picture of the Colognre skyline at night with the cathedral lit up and it looked gorgeous.

  5. January 14, 2012 / 18:45

    Gothic is definitely my favorite style. All of the spikes and flying buttresses just have a great feel to them.
    Cologne is definitely a good example. Vienna is also a great place. The Steffl in the center is a true gothic cathedral, but the Votivkirche on the ring is of the same style built only a hundred years ago.

    I have a soft spot for our own Freiburg Cathedral especially as I go eat sausages near it fairly regularly for lunch. There is something neat about just being able to be near it so often.

    • January 15, 2012 / 14:30

      Hi Andrew, there are so many lovely gothic cathedrals in Europe that I would like to see. Have never visited Vienna but know I would be amazed by the architecture there. It’s fab living close to a cathedral. I’m always wondering around by Lincoln Cathedral. Have never seen Freiburg Cathedral, will have to look up pic.

  6. January 14, 2012 / 19:12

    I’d agree that gothic architecture is beautiful, but I always get a sense from these buildings of a haunted past, filled with unspeakable acts. Maybe that is just the overactive imagination and writer in me, but as a result, I never feel at ease in them.

    ~ Emme

  7. January 15, 2012 / 14:36

    Hi Emme, you’re right, they can definitely be very spooky. To be honest, this is what I like about them. I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking around by myself at night in one of them (that would be terrifying). But the spookiness and dark history makes them so interesting.

    • January 16, 2012 / 18:46

      Thanks, they certainly are.