The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Carolingian and Ottonian Art

What are the main characteristics of Ottonian architecture?

The Ottonian rulers emphasized their imperial strength and military prowess through the construction of monumental architecture reminiscent of ancient Rome. Churches of the period followed the basilica plan and featured wooden roofs (many of which burned down). The Church of Saint Cyriakus in Gernrode, Germany, (begun in 961) is one of the best surviving examples of Ottonian architecture. The church architects placed a newfound focus on verticality, which foreshadowed the leaping heights of much later medieval buildings. The Church of Saint Cyriakus features a second floor gallery, clerestory windows, and a westwork—a wall along the west end 74 of the nave, one of the key features of Ottonian church architecture.


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