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Glossary

Baldachin - a decorative architectural element usually placed above a gothic statue that backs on to a wall or column of a church, as if to protect it.

Column - a free-standing pillar, usually circular in form.

Corbel - an architectural element that juts out of a vertical surface (a wall or pillar) and provides support for an arch, statue or another element.

Galilee chapel - a chapel or porch with its own roof on pillars or columns that backs on to the main façade of a church.

Gargoyle - a carved stone grotesque designed to convey rainwater away from the roof and building (usually a church); usually to be found under the eaves or on top of cornices.

Gothic - the Western European architectural that followed the Romanic period and preceded the Renaissance. It emerged in the 12th century and lasted until the 16th century. It is characterised structurally by the use of ogive cross vaults, buttresses and flying buttresses.

Lintel - a piece of wood or stone placed horizontally over a door or window as a load-bearing element.

Mannerism - a term created in the 20th century to describe European art of the period roughly between 1515 and 1610.

Manueline - a decorative style that is characteristic of the late Gothic period in Portugal (late 15th century, early 16th century).

Nave - the interior space of a church delimited by two rows of pillars or columns.

Nervure - a projecting moulding that divides the compartments or panels of a vault; it is normally functional but can also be merely decorative.

Niche - a generally semi-dome shaped vertical recess in a wall that often houses a statue and serves merely decorative purposes.

Pilaster - a pilaster is a slightly projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall.

Platband - a flat moulding or group of mouldings on a balustrade or entablature.

Plateresque - a Spanish artistic and architectural style. It combines Gothic and Renaissance elements that are so elaborate they resemble the filigree work of silversmiths. It flourished in the era of the Catholic Monarchs extending to the reign of Philip II.

Renaissance - a period of revivalism in European arts and letters inspired by Classical models which began in Italy in the 14th century.

Retable - or reredos: a framed painting, or group of paintings, on wood (or in some rare cases, a sculptural element) with a religious theme that forms the altarpiece or decoration behind the altar in a church.

Rose window - a large, highly elaborate circular window in the façade of a church.

Spire - a pointed structure on top of church or bell towers.

Transept - is a transverse section crossing the east-west line of the nave of a church giving it the form of the cross.

Tympanum - a semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, bounded by a lintel and arch.

Vault - an arched ceiling made of hewn stone designed to cover a space between two parallel walls.

Voussoir - a wedge-shaped element, usually made of stone, used in building an arch or vault, etc. The voussoir that closes a vault (because it is the last stone to be placed) is known as the keystone.

 

 

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