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Geometric and figurative archivolts at the “Golden Gate” of Freiberg Cathedral

The archivolte (Italian, from Latin Arcus volutus = "arched arch") is the front side of a round or pointed arch . This can be smooth and undecorated as well as staggered in depth and profiled and / or designed figuratively or vegetable or geometrically. Most archivolts are part of the cladding of window and door openings (especially on church portals ).


In Carolingian and Ottonian architecture, arches tend to remain unorganized. In the early Romanesque period the vestments were first graded in depth, but here, as in rural churches, the front sides of the archivolts remained mostly unworked. In the high and late Romanesque they were often profiled with bulges and rods . In rare cases, the underside of one or more arches was also given a decorative finish.

With the sculpture portals of the high and late Romanesque, figurative representations appeared in some cultural landscapes. In the Gothic style , the archivolts were usually figurative and often related to the theme of the tympanum . Starting in France, where the first figurative archivolts appear in the 2nd quarter of the 12th century, they first appear in Germany around 1235 at the Golden Gate in Freiberg / Saxony.

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