I thoroughly enjoy the gothic aesthetic. I spent last Spring semester studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, where I was exposed to gothic structures daily. The gothic movement was initially birthed out of the Romanesque movement in the 12th century in Europe. In an architectural sense, the iconic gothic arch structure was used to allow churches and cathedrals to be built taller and express the grandeur of the Catholic church’s importance. The image of the Church of Saint Helen in Lincolnshire, England, by Spenser Means below provides a good example of a classic gothic arch.

Church of Saint Helen Gothic Arch

The arch structure also allows for more light to enter a building. This was greatly beneficial because of the lack of effective lighting for large spaces at the time. However, it clashes with the modern day gothic aesthetic’s dark and gloomy color palette. This new color scheme likely comes from the fact that gothic buildings are very old. As a result, they are commonly covered in centuries of dirt and soot that stains the buildings. This discoloration can be seen in the picture I took of the Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul in Prague (2).

Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul

Upon analyzing the image, it can be seen that the original coloring of the stone is only maintained around the front doors of the building. I believe that Saint Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna, Austria, provides a much better representation of the classic gothic aesthetic I find appealing. It is a very well kept building that still has light colored stone displayed uniformly. It can be seen in the picture I took below (3). 

Saint Stephen’s Cathedral

Another aspect of the gothic aesthetic I enjoy is the flying buttress. Similar to the gothic arch, the flying buttress was used as a tool to provide stability to a tall structure. This external feature is an arched support extending from the upper portion of a wall to a pier. Flying buttresses provide a rib-like appearance that gives life to an inanimate building. This animating effect can be seen in the picture I took below of Prague Castle at night (4). 

Prague Castle Flying Buttresses

Those who created these large, gothic cathedrals were typically extremely talented masonry masters. One such famous mason in the Czech Republic was Petr Parler. He is known for being the master mason behind Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and St. Vitas Cathedral, all of which are staples of Prague. He designed all of the structures and led teams of other highly trained craftsmen to manage their crews. Projects this big often took many decades and even multiple generations of families to finish. A self portrait bust of Petr Parler on the exterior of St. Vitas Cathedral is shown below (5). 

Petr Parler Self Portrait

Aspects of the gothic aesthetic are sometimes repurposed in modern day designs. My favorite example of this is the use of flying buttresses on the 2015 Ford GT pictured below (6). Though they do not have the same practical use as they do in architecture, they definitely work to animate the car in a similar fashion.

2015 Ford GT Flying Buttresses



  1. Spenser Means, 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/hunky_punk/7987022516
  2. Oliver White, 2023
  3. Oliver White, 2023
  4. Oliver White, 2023
  5. Petr Parler, c1370-1379, https://www.everypainterpaintshimself.com/article/peter_parlers_self-portrait_c.1370-79
  6. Mark Vaughn, 2015, https://www.autoweek.com/news/auto-shows/a1861331/nsx-ford-gt-i8-detroit-year-flying-buttress/
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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hello Ethan. I am glad to hear that you share my interest in European, gothic architecture. Though I greatly appreciate the gothic aesthetic, I am not looking to incorporate it into my projects. I want to make things I will use often, and none of my personal belongings fit in the gothic aesthetic. I like order, so I will not be incorporating gothic styles in my projects.

  • Ethan Silverman
    January 28, 2024 11:11 am

    Wow, I really liked how you used your own experience abroad to showcase this aesthetic, super cool photos! Traveling in Europe myself, I found the architecture of the old cathedrals to be the most interesting part of my journeys. The call to the modern Ford GT with an gothic style buttress was super cool, something I wouldn’t even consider. Would this aesthetic be something you would want to incorporate into one of your projects?


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