Architectural Guides

Gothic: Spanish & Manueline


Just like last week, today we will look at further interpretations of Gothic Architecture. As you hopefully remember from our introduction, the geographic location is an important factor in the development of regional architectural styles. In this post we will feature the so called Spanish Gothic with all its nuances as well as the Manueline Style. These are only two of many styles associated with Gothic and we will have a few more in next week’s post!

Spanish Gothic

Spanish Gothic started to develop in the 13th century, when France had already entered the so called High Gothic Period. The style gradually infiltrated the country through the well-known Camino de Santiago, the Way of Saint James. What is unique to Spanish Gothic is how the style developed independently in the country’s regions. Art historians today often speak of Valencian, Balearic or Catalan Gothic. Nevertheless, the most important sub-styles are the Mudéjar Style, Isabelline Style and Plateresque.

The Mudéjar Style can be identified through its distinct Moorish elements, generally expressed in the shape of Arabic geometrical patterns. The style is clear evidence of the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and the subsequent Spanish Reconquista.

The Isabelline Style developed later, in the end of the 15th century. After the successful Reconquista, Spanish monarchs sought to express their undying wealth and power through architecture. The Isabelline style is not a pure style in that but few of the buildings created during the decades that it encompasses (c. 1480–c. 1521) represent a true architectural synthesis. It combines several European Gothic elements and even incorporates elements more commonly found in Romanesque structures.

Plateresque was the last main Gothic style to develop in Spain and is considered by many rather as an early Renaissance Style. Similar to the Isabelline Style, it blends several elements into one style, including Mudéjar, Flamboyant and Lombard components. It is characterised by its profuse embellishments, using a wide array of plant motifs. Many examples of this style can also be found in the Spanish Colonies, in particular modern Mexico.



Also called Portuguese Late Gothic, Manueline developed in Portugal in the early 16th century. It is closely related to the Spanish Plateresque Style and marks the transition into the Renaissance Period. Portugal at the time had just begun to establish itself as a sea-faring colonial power and the Manueline style incorporates a wide array of maritime elements. The country’s lavish constructions were also financed by the new wealth originating from the spice trade with Africa and India. Equally, East Indian motifs influenced the short-lived style. Interestingly, semi-circular arches are often found in this period, opposed to the general Gothic development of the pointed arch. Often they appear in the shape of ogee arches, a reminder of Flamboyant Gothic.


Now, what do you think? Is there anything we have missed? Have you already learnt anything from this guide? Which is your favourite architectural style? Share your thoughts and pictures with us. Let’s stay in touch!

23 thoughts on “Gothic: Spanish & Manueline

  1. It’s so difficult for me to identify the different styles of architecture in Europe. The visual guide is helpful for people like me. Going to Europe again next year, let me see if I have improved or not. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece.

    1. Hi Nisha and thank you so much for your comment 🙂 I’m glad that you enjoyed the read and we wish you good luck for your next Euro trip!


  2. What a cool piece. It totally reminds me of my art history class. We spent a ton of time on gothic architecture and I loved it!

    1. Hi Alexis and thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed our post. We love architecture and enjoy teaching fellow travellers about it 🙂


  3. I’m terrible at attempting to identify the different types of architecture around Europe… so I’m really glad you’ve included a visual guide to the elements and themes! Next time I travel around Europe, I’m going to be able to appreciate the buildings a whole lot more!

    Gonna keep following these series 🙂

    1. Hi Caroline! Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you learnt something from this post. We will cover all the styles in Europe eventually so we’re glad to hear that you’ll come back for more 🙂


  4. I love architecture in Europe so much! Somehow they preserved their style, while everything in the US is getting knocked down and modern things being built. I’m really bad at distinguishing the different styles, but this post definitely helps. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi and thank you for your comment, Maggie! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and that you love architecture as much as us 🙂 There is certainly something to modern architecture too, but we still dream of Romanesque castles and Gothic cathedrals <3


  5. This is such a great post. I’m terrible at distinguishing what style each historical building is, this post is so helpful. I will definitely know what to look for now!

    1. Hi Sasha and thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear that you’ve learnt something from our post and I hope you’ll be back for more 🙂


    1. Hi Jess! Thanks so much for your comment 🙂 We’re truly blessed with beautiful architecture in Europe, but I wished I could cut myself a slice of the beautiful Australian beaches 😉


    1. Hi Shannon and thanks for your comment! I’m glad you could take something away from this post. I hope you’ll be back for another lesson or two 😉


  6. Great series of posts, Jacky! I love Gothic Style, can’t even pick one as a favourite. Architecture is such an interesting subject and I am enjoying learning all of it with your posts. I’m sure in my next trips I’ll be looking for all these elements to identify what I am looking at! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Tais ? Next week we’ll talk a bit about English Gothic, should be something you might find in Ireland a bit more 🙂


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