Romanesque is term used to describe “Ancient Roman-like” art and architecture in Western Europe dating 1050 to 1200. “Ancient Roman-like” referred to elements used in Romanesque art and architecture such as various vaulted ceilings, arches, curves, and geometric arrangements that are seen throughout France, Italy, Germany, and England and are somewhat characterized by region. These styles reminded scholars of techniques used in ancient roman art and architecture like barrel and groin vaults.
During this time, there were many pilgrimages taking place, most notably passing through France on the way to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Pilgrim traffic created huge investments for the churches that contained relics of saints, and also helped the growth of many towns. The towns along the way built churches varying in style due to the various influences from the travelers.
According to our book, the church of Saint-Sernin in Toulouse, France was one of many designed to accommodate the large congregations that pilgrimages brought. Saint-Sernin was constructed mainly of brick due to loss of many techniques such as concrete during the middle ages. From above or from an aerial view, it is shaped like a cross, much like other Romanesque architecture in France and other regions. It also had vaulted ceilings; groin vaults and barrel vaults were used. Radiating chapels possessed relics of saints, while an ambulatory, or walk-way around the nave and side aisles, allowed viewing of the radiating chapels. Some refer to Saint-Sernin’s as following a basilica form, although there are many Romanesque elements throughout the church leading most to think it is not.