ARCHITECTURE No Styrofoam In The Windows!

Posted by on 10. Juli 2016

A romanic window in Terrassa (Spain) ...


… in Modena ...


… and in Ravenna

YES, I MADE THE MISTAKE! Visiting churches which were built between the years 500 and 1200 in Nor- thern Spain, Southern France and Italy, I couldn’t identify with what material the romanic and gothic windows were filled. Glass? Definitely not! Dirty or blind glass? Neither! What else could it be but styrofoam? Modern plastic material, and since 99 % of those windows are placed high up on the walls, far out of reach, some hardly visible, why not? They are ugly, brownish streams running down the panes, sunlight has trouble to seep through, but nevertheless presenting the church interior with a soft and milky glance. These windows are never large, rather slits, since they didn’t need large windows in the chapels of the Medieval Times. I never saw these mysterious panes in the windows of the cathedrals, they are all made of glass. I thought: They got enough money to afford any restoration of broken windows. But the small chapels in the countryside, the tiny, almost forgotten houses of god, not used for services anymore (or on sundays only), their parishes are so poor that the have to patch up the panes with styrofoam. – Very wrong! These windows are a preciosity, a treasure, not made of plastic material, but of ALABASTER! A mineral, a variation of gyp- sum, cut into wafer-thin plates, a real artistry, and used instead of glass intentionally. Because they wanted this soft and milky light, the „see-through-effect“ was useless, so high up the wall, and the wanted, in some cases, to protect the frescoes, who tend to fade away in open sunlight. A young priest near Navarra disclosed the secret to me, cleaning a chapel from the 7th century along The Way of St James. So the next time you see an Alabaster window, don’t make the same mistake, now you know better …

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