What I'm really interested in most is building materials, but I'm pretty open to answers. Essentially, it sounds like the late 1100's in Eastern Europe were still pretty solidly Romanesque, with Gothic architecture originating in France and still not having become vogue in Eastern Europe.

What are the sorts of ways that people would build castles at this time, and how large did they tend to be? Did they tend to also build stone walls enclosing towns, or leave them open? What would a basic living space look like?

  • You can check Wikipedia's article on the Architecture of the Kievan Rus'. You can also check a forum thread with examples of more ordinary buildings, though they seem pretty similar to what the rest of Europe was doing. Overall, byzantine/romanesque seems the norm, with the characteristic Orthodox domes being featured all over.
    – rlbstr
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 0:06
  • I'm not sure that all of Eastern Europe could be said to feature Orthodox domes; Catholicism spreads pretty far East (i.e. Poland). Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 1:41
  • 1
    I think this question is too wide. "Eastern Europe" is a big space with answers that are wildly different for different parts. Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 9:44
  • My personal focus is on Poland, so I guess I should refine it with that. That said, any of the Catholic countries (such as Hungary) will probably be more accurate. Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


Eastern Europe is a very large area, including Czekhia, Poland, Hungary, East Prussia on one side and Russian principalities on the other side. Architecture was very different.

In the East (the Orthodox Russian principalities) most of the buildings were made of wood and I suppose nothing survived. The only exception is churches some of which were built of "white stone". The most famous example is the Church of the Intercesson on the Nerl enter image description here

This Russian page contains several other examples.

This church is exceptional because it is preserved in its original shape. It was built in 1158, near Bogolubovo. Bogolubovo was the residence of Andrei Bogolubski, one of the most powerful princes of Eastern part of Russia. Stone architecture was brought to Russia from the Eastern Roman Empire, together with Christianity. As you see, the architecture is very different from the Western part of Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary). More examples of this period from Russia are found here.

The dividing line between the two parts of eastern Europe essentially coincides with the religeous dividing line, and roughly coincides with the modern boundary of the European Union. To the east of the boundary you find no fortresses (fortified cities existed but were built of wood). So the only surviving buildings from that epoch are churches. For the Western part of Eastern Europe, you can see many buildings on Wikipedia, for example here

  • +1 - Religion and culture in that period were incredibly closely intertwined, so one would in fact expect completely different architecture in the Catholic and Orthodox portions of Europe.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 15:32
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    T.E.D.: And what I find amazing is that the modern boundary of EU almost exactly coincides with that religious divide of 9-10 century, after so many boundaries changes in the last millenium.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 15:37
  • "very different architecture" but still shares the round arch with Norman churches in the UK. Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 13:26
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    @user_1818839: not surprising, it was invented in the Roman empire and spread both east and west.
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 15:30

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