The first cultural period affecting the whole of Europe after the demise of Rome in the 5C lasted in Germany from 950/960 into the 13C.The name itself refers to the fact that elements of Roman buildings such as rounded arches, pillars, columns and vaults were adopted, in addition to other typical features: windows with rounded arches, columns with block-shaped capitals and walls with massive piles of stones. This all gives a compact, rather stocky impression of space, in contrast to the light, upwardly soaring Gothic. Documented examples of Romanesque architecture are the imperial cathedrals such as in Aachen or Speyer, bishop’s churches like that in Mainz or monastic churches like Maria Laach.

Although many churches in Upper Franconia were founded in the Romanesque period – such as the ancient parishes of Bindlach or Hof (St Laurence church) – only very few Romanesque fragments are preserved in old foundations, towers and the remains of walls. Many churches in the region were destroyed in the Hittite attack in 1430, and after that were rebuilt – usually larger – in the Gothic style.The little chapels were too cramped for the growing population, and they were frequently re-used as the chancel of a new and larger church.

In the 19C, historicism also led to people falling back to the Romanesque style of building. The church in Spielberg near to Selb was rebuilt in 1840-42 in a ‘new-Romanesque’ style.

(Picture: Romanesque door with rounded arch, in the north tower of the City church, Bayreuth, built 1194(?))