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The Neo-gothic Towers of Zagreb Cathedral - Their Style and Context


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Damjanović, Dragan. (2005). The Neo-gothic Towers of Zagreb Cathedral - Their Style and Context. Radovi instituta za povijest umjetnosti , 29. pp. 259-276. ISSN 0350-3437

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The neo-gothic towers of Zagreb cathedral are a result of the undoubtedly most controversial restoration works in the history of Croatian monument conservation and the 19th-century Croatian architecture in general. They were built in the context of the historicist approach to monument conservation in the region of Central Europe. The starting point and the principal model for such interventions was the completion of the cathedral of Cologne (1841–1880), which supplied it with two massive towers, built on the basis of preserved medieval plans. In the middle and late 19th century, almost 180 towers were built in German-speaking areas. In case of gothic churches, additions were usually modelled upon the constructions of the cathedral belfries in Cologne, Strassburg, and Freiburg, with a rectangular lower part on which an octagonal upper level was built, ending in a perforated, richly ornamented cone, as in the examples of the medieval towers at Soest, Heidelberg, Ulm, Regensburg, Prague, and many other places. Ideological by towers of Zagreb cathedral belong entirely to this context, but their form follows it only partly. Restoration of the cathedral was begun by a student of Cologne – Friedrich von Schmidt – whose quest for analogies with the very modest remnants of the medieval towers in Zagreb led him to the church of St Pierre in Caen, which had similar solutions for articulation in the lower sections of the belfry, in the form of thin pilaster strips with blind arches on the top. Furthermore, he developed the tower of Zagreb cathedral upwards in accordance with his Caen model – sectioning the central part of the belfry by means of four massive arches, of which the two middle ones are open, while the side ones are closed; the cone of the belfry is solved in a similar way. Nevertheless, Schmidt also added a typical »German« motive – an octagonal level on the passage between the lower, rectangular part of the belfry and the cone. Later, during the construction works, his plan would suffer significant changes on the part of his student, Herman Bollé from Cologne. Bollé most strongly diverged from the solutions of his teachers in the cone of the belfry (Maßwerkhelm), perforating it with rich late gothic sectioning, thus bringing it closer to the context of the Central-European neo-gothic architecture of the period.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Zagreb, cathedral, historicism, neogothic, Friedrich von Schmidt, Herman Bollé, Caen, St. Pierre
Departments: Department of Art History
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2011 12:40
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2012 21:15

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