What is A Cathedral?
All of Western Europe was Roman Catholic during the Middle Ages. Each and every community had its own church. In fact, these churches were grouped into districts known as dioceses. Each diocese was directly under the jurisdiction of bishop.
The principal church of the diocese was embodied with the throne of the bishop. Such type of church was called ecclesia cathedrals or ‘cathedral church’. In English it has been abbreviated as “Cathedral”.
Most of the cathedrals in Europe were constructed with the floor plan in the general shape of a cross. Actually, the larger part of the cross the nave and serves the purpose of holy gathering. The two arms of is cross are the transepts and the fourth part which contains altar and choir, is called the apse. The portion where the four parts meet is the crossing’ Towers or domes were generally built over such crossings.
Architects have designed different cathedrals in different styles. Most of the cathedrals in Europe were either Byzantine, Roman esque, Gothic or Renaissance.
Notre Dame of Paris, the most famous European Cathedrals, is built in the Gothic style of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is strange to note that the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, St. John the Divine was built in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in New York City, and is not Roman Catholic, but Episcopal. Since there is no seat of a bishop in St. Peter’s in Rome hence it cannot be considered to be a cathedral officially. There are rare examples of such types of Renaissance buildings.
The great Michelangelo has designed the dome which is believed to be a masterpiece in itself.