Discover 800 years of history!
Welcome to the European Route of Brick Gothic. Hundreds of fascinating brick buildings, embedded within an idyllic landscape and picturesque old towns, open up fascinating insights into an architectural style that is unique to northern Europe: Brick Gothic.
800 years ago, wealth and power were concentrated along the Hanseatic League trading route. To this very day, architectural masterpieces form a tangible link to this period: the elegant town halls, mighty churches, countless town houses and town fortifications within the towns and cities of the Baltic Sea coast. Join us as we discover these pearls of the Middle Ages in Denmark, Germany and Poland!
10 Years of the European Route of Brick Gothic Association
For two and a half days, members of the “European Route of Brick Gothic” Association celebrated its 10th anniversary in Greifswald – the place where the Association was founded 10 years ago.
Over the course of two days – from 24 to 26 September 2017 – guests attending the celebrations in Greifswald were given a night watchman tour and detailed guided tours of St. Nikolai Cathedral and the Marienkirche. On 25 September 2017, a ship took attendees to the monastery ruin of Eldena in the nearby fishing village of Wieck. In the evening, guests from the worlds of politics and tourism joined the festivities in the beautiful setting of the Pomeranian State Museum. On foundation day, 26 September 2017, the Association held its Annual General Meeting, summarised the successes of the past 10 years and looked ahead to the coming year.
For ten years, the Association has been working hand-in-hand with monument conservators and tourism experts to successfully preserve Brick Gothic’s cultural heritage. The German Foundation for Monument Conservation (Deutschen Stiftung Denkmalschutz) first drew attention to this special architectural style in the 1990s through its local initiative “On The Trail of Brick Gothic” (Wege zur Backsteingotik), which focused on northern Germany. This initiative was followed by the EU project “European Route of Brick Gothic (EuRoB)” from 2002 to 2007. This project brought together cities from around the entire Baltic Sea, the Baltic States and Sweden. Following the EU project, the association was founded on 26 September 2007.
How to recognise Brick Gothic
A typical feature of this architectural style is, of course, the brick itself. Often bright red, it can also appear yellow, green or black-glazed. Brick Gothic buildings may also be painted white or even red, and the joints or pointing traced in white to create the illusion of a brick wall that is as seamless and flat as possible. An easy way to identify Gothic is to check whether the building’s windows or doorways have pointed arches, a feature visible, for example, on Paris’s famous Notre Dame cathedral or Cologne cathedral. These tapered windows and doorways are not only found on Gothic churches, but also on town halls or city towers.
Other characteristic features of Gothic
Another element of Gothic can be found inside the building: the arched-ceiling style known as the ribbed vault that features crossed-ribs, a constituent part of the vault and peculiar to the Gothic style. In later times, ribs were even used to form entire nets that extended across the vaulted ceiling. Gothic churches often contain arched, or “flying” buttresses. Placed outside the wall and connected to it by several arches, these piers were designed to relieve the load on the wall. Flying buttresses were required because in the Gothic period the aim was to maximise window space, consequently there was a need to transmit the weight load from the ceiling elsewhere, i.e. to piers. This resulted in the impression of a delicate wall and large open space inside the building.
What is Gothic Revival?
As far as merchant houses, towers and castles are concerned, it is often difficult for the layman to tell whether the building is Brick Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque. Gothic merchants’ houses often have so-called stepped gables and pointed arched windows, but to be certain of a building’s style, a professional opinion is often required. The same also applies when asking whether a particular Gothic style dates back to the Middle Ages or to the early 20th century. At the turn of the 20th century many architectural styles, including Gothic, were being rediscovered. The style of these new buildings was given the name Gothic Revival, known in German as Neugotik.