Medieval times were probably no picnic, but they sure did have some interesting structures. As I was walking through churches, buildings and towns with dates from late 800’s (beginning of Prague Castle) to the 14th century, I began looking to why it may have been pleasant to live at these times of hard work, disease and war. The late Middle Ages begins the period of fine building and cultured art. Church design, especially as a result of the rise of Catholicism came into its glory in this period.
The Matthias Church in Budapest was a 14th century Gothic style Roman Catholic church at the heart of Buda’s Castle District. It was also officially named Church of Our Lady. It was not possible to photograph this large church with the lens I had on my camera (I could not get back far enough to even get the height), yet it was truly a remarkable structure.
What one notices, is that these large cathedrals are built in the largest cities. The city cathedrals became a center for pilgrimage for the folks from near and far. The enormous size of these cathedrals meant they could be seen from afar too. The sheer size was also intimidating to reinforce the power and control the Catholic church held.
The phrase “Middle Ages” typically describes Europe as between the fall of Rome in 476 to the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century. During the Middle Ages, two distinct Christian churches formed – the Orthodox Christian Church in the east (where the Pope was not recognized as church leader) and the Roman Catholic Church in the west.
The primary responsibility of the Orthodox church during this era was to address the spiritual needs of medieval society. Be they village peasants or town folk, the church gave them hope and salvation in turbulent and poverty-stricken times. Tithing was practiced, and could be paid in money or every tenth egg or goat. The church had control on the people and some of it was by fear. Fear was the thought of not going to heaven or failing to pay the tithe, yet the church was what was good in their lives.
In Prague, there was the Baroque, Orthodox St. Nicholas Church in the old town square. While we were there, the church was under construction to make repairs. They also had the famous 1611 Catholic church of Our Lady of Victory with the statue of baby Jesus. Oddly, a Catholic church with statuary. My friend and I attended this church while services were being performed.
The above image gallery is from Prague. Below, churches in Hungary and Romania. I have many more images of churches, some smaller yet just as ornate. I think what is most obvious is the opulence of these churches stemming from civic pride and deep faith. Tracery, rose windows, towers, spires and pinnacles all exude reaching for the heavens, the sacrifice of time, talent and treasure to build such a temple to God. I also believe building it to last hundreds of years says something about its dedication to God and faith. After all, something as beautiful cannot be destroyed. In war, churches are saved quite often.
If you ever get to this region, visit the churches and mosques if open to the public. It is quite a moving experience. Some have concerts of organ music, others have parishioners singing in joy. Coming up, see a quick post showing the art decorating the interiors. The frescoes are truly beautiful and very colorful.
Please see Nature and Wildlife Pics for some big skyline landscape images of Prague and Budapest. It is a post on photography tips I was giving some newbies on my trip titled, Be Pleased With Your Photos. Also see Cropping an Image – Why? Because I Like It That Way. This was also a post on tips I was giving, but not always heeded.