The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Gothic Europe

What was the first Gothic cathedral?

The very first Gothic cathedral was the Abbey Church of St. Denis built near Paris in the 1130s under the direction of Abbot Suger, who wrote about the design and construction of the cathedral in three books. The plan was to reconstruct the old Benedictine monastery that housed the holy remains of St. Denis. Abbot Suger searched Europe for innovated sculptors and masons who experimented with rib vaults and created decorative sculpture. The result was a unified space filled with light and it served as an inspiration for new religious architecture for centuries afterward.


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