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Byzantine Revival, Crematorium, Pere-Lachaise

Perhaps no style of architecture is so closely associated with cemeteries as Gothic. Its towers, spires and flying buttresses are the stuff of ghost stories, dark and stormy nights and evil sorcerers. The structural advantages of the Gothic style over other types of architecture enabled architects and designers to construct buildings and cathedrals of just about any size their time and budgets would permit. Because Gothic architecture did not borrow heavily from any of the pagan Classical styles, it is most closely associated with Christianity. It is, in fact, the first purely Christian architecture. Early examples were simply called French architecture. Gothic architecture is easy to identify by its vertical emphasis, pointed arches and heavily ornamented spires.

Gothic architecture was not without its critics. In fact, the term Gothic was actually a derisive term uttered by the Italian architects who were developing a new style of their own: Italian Renaissance. When viewing the massive cathedrals that the French were building, the Italians were said to exclaim that the cathedrals were so ugly, only a Goth could possibly have built them; hence, the term Gothic.

Funerary architecture in the Gothic style was much more widely used in the nineteenth century than it is now, simply because of the significantly higher prices to manufacture a heavily ornamented Gothic Revival monument or mausoleum Another persistent problem is that the Gothic ornament can become a maintenance nightmare. The cracks, joints and attachments are a magnet for ivy, nesting animals and moisture. It is rare indeed to see a Gothic structure more than a few decades old that doesn’t have some sort of ongoing structural maintenance problems.

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