83 votes

Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

Many churches in Europe (not just Germany) were built centuries ago, when the church was by far the most important and prestigious building in any city. Building them took decades, sometimes even ...
DevSolar's user avatar
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61 votes
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Did the Romans leave any technical instruction manuals behind?

The only book to survive from ancient Rome on architecture is Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's De architectura, found by the Renaissance scholar Poggio Bracciolini in 1414 after being largely forgotten. ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
59 votes
Accepted

Why does the Great Wall of China follow such a bendy route?

The Chinese designed the wall to be an effective barrier; that was the goal. To answer your question, we need to ask: what land barrier stopped foreign troops the best? The answer in China, and ...
Astor Florida's user avatar
48 votes
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What happened to these buildings near the Seine?

They were not regular construction, but exhibits for the Exposition Universelle (1900), showing different cultures side by side: Each country funded, designed and on occasion constructed their ...
justCal's user avatar
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46 votes
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How were medieval castles built in swamps or marshes without draining them?

As noted, this type of castle was extremely common. Harburg (Horeburg/near Hamburg), the first castle at Danzig are perhaps the most famous of these. They were most often built along the Northern ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
46 votes
Accepted

Does anyone recognize the identity and location of this octagonal structure?

This was the Tannenberg Memorial, built near the town of Hohenstein, East Prussia (now Olsztynek, Poland). Built in the mid-1920's, it was a monument dedicated to the German soldiers who fought in ...
Giter's user avatar
  • 3,994
26 votes

Why are the ceilings so high in older houses?

Smoke. The high ceilings provided somewhere for it to dissipate above mouth and eye level. It's rather hard to imagine how prevalent smoke was before mid-20th century. Not only was tobacco smoking ...
pjc50's user avatar
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26 votes
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What would the Arch of Titus have looked like painted?

Last year, a team headed by Steve Fine of the Yeshiva University Center for Israeli Studies in New York which had been examining portions of the arch since 2012 announced: High resolution three-...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
24 votes
Accepted

Does anyone know what type of structure this is?

This is a roman fountain at Djemila, Algeria (Latin: Cuicul or Curculum). There's a vast amount of literature and web material on Djemila in general (and some on the fountain), for example: The ...
tohuwawohu's user avatar
  • 3,346
23 votes
Accepted

What murals and decor might have been present in the earliest Sumerian temples?

As a quick note on chronology, "5000+ years ago" would put your setting in the Jemdet Nasr period or earlier (Uruk III–V; yes, archeological periods are numbered backwards). This is around ...
Ilmari Karonen's user avatar
22 votes
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Seeking floor plan of a classical Roman building with 20 to 30 rooms

There are floor plans both for the House of the Vestals, the House of the Faun in Pompeii, and Fishbourne Palace in England, among others. Unfortunately, many of the floor plans available online do ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
22 votes

Why are the ground floors windows of northern Italian palazzi often barred up?

So what where these barred windows protecting against? Theft / burglary? Angry mobs with pitchforks? Feuds/wars with rival families? Yes. A little more seriously, in the case of the specific example ...
justCal's user avatar
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22 votes
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What's the background to the popularity of turquoise in Russian architecture?

It's entirely modern. In 1840, the Winter Palace wasn't teal. This page has a lovely timeline of how its color changed in the moist Baltic climate from beige to ochre, before being painted...bright ...
SPavel's user avatar
  • 10.4k
21 votes

Did the Romans leave any technical instruction manuals behind?

While not exactly manuals, some of the architectural instructions survive on the buildings themselves. The Roman temple of Bziza has a wall that bears marks of an architectural sketch on how to ...
Vorbis's user avatar
  • 721
20 votes

Why does the Great Wall of China follow such a bendy route?

The Great Wall of China: It is the longest man-made construction in the world. In the old times, it was of great military importance of preventing the enemies' intrusion and was regarded as the '...
Ken Graham's user avatar
  • 1,910
20 votes

Does anyone recognize the identity and location of this octagonal structure?

This is the Tannenberg Memorial near Hohenstein, East Prussia (now Olsztynek, Poland). This was conceived as a memorial to German Soldiers at the two Battles of Tannenberg, one in 1410 (where Poland-...
Spencer's user avatar
  • 5,315
18 votes

Are there any underground cities known except those found in Cappadocia?

There are a few underground cities that I can think of, some may fit your requirements better than others. If you consider tunneling into rocks, then Petra would be a very large city that was built ...
ed.hank's user avatar
  • 6,685
17 votes
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What was the original colour of the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheatre)?

According to Rosella Rea, director of the Colosseum, in the restoration from 2013 they found traces of it being brightly painted in red, ochre, blue and green. Dr. Rossella Rea, the Colosseum’s ...
Alberto Yagos's user avatar
17 votes

Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

The maximum building hights are determined by each city (or as in Berlin possible each City District). In Berlin the first Bebauungsplan (Building Plan) of 1862 regulated standard street widths of ...
Mark Johnson's user avatar
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16 votes
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Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

As DevSolar noted in his answer, churches generally are tall, their spires even higher, but to answer Q Why in most German places is the church the tallest building? it might suffice to say just: ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Why do the bases of these pillars have grooves in them?

An article in the book Master Builders of Byzantium by Robert Ousterhout discussing the construction of Greek and Roman columns confirmed my suspicions from comments above: So the channel in the ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 39.6k
16 votes

Did courtiers of antiquity hold in their pee or did they have common commodes available in the king/queen's court?

Tycho Brahe was not exactly a courtier, but he had to court the emperor who was sponsoring Tycho's research. In October 1601 he attended a banquet with the emperor (Rudolf II) and what happened was ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 38.9k
14 votes
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What are the highest and biggest half-timbered buildings built during medieval era?

While it is possible for a wooden building to exceed 200 feet (approx. 61 metres) in height (see, for example, Pagoda of Fogong Temple from 1056) there is nothing approaching this height from medieval ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
13 votes

Before iron was common, what did common people use for door hinges?

Apart from leather hinges that were used even when iron was common (but not so common as to be cheap), there existed the different mounting of the door. I have heard about its use from my grandfather, ...
Gangnus's user avatar
  • 7,237
13 votes

Where in a city would a cathedral be built?

To understand where a cathedral might be placed, it is important to understand the function and history of cathedrals. Note that the history is likely to depend on many different factors, and be ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
12 votes

Are there any underground cities known except those found in Cappadocia?

Dating in its origins from the 2 millenium BCE and still inhabited by up to 40 million people today: The first type of yaodong were underground dwellings that date back to the 2nd millennium BC, ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
12 votes

Why is there no Islamic architecture with glass in windows before the 18th century?

The Blue Mosque may have had stained glass windows since 1617. Nonetheless, consider the tradition of ventilated buildings in Islamic architecture. Buildings for hot, dry climates often have thick ...
Aaron Brick's user avatar
  • 27.6k
12 votes

Did West Germany build or mandate bomb shelters for ordinary civilians?

Yes, West Germany did build a number of large-ish air raid shelters, for several hundred to several thousand people each. Most were built underground, usually in connection to subterranean garages or ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 9,207
11 votes
Accepted

What is the name of a particular architectural structure from a Gothic Church?

According to "Die Wehrkirchen in Siebenbürgen" by George Oprescu, these are arrow slits ("Schießscharten"). This is a feature that is rare for churches outside of Transsylvania, ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 9,207
10 votes
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Did the Eastern Romans also use Roman concrete?

The use of concrete did fade after the fall of the western Roman Empire, though at least some aspects of the use of concrete was held over into the Byzantine Architectural style, on some early ...
justCal's user avatar
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