Engineering / Construction, Architecture, Religion
There is no finer building. There are others just as fine but there are none better and Durham remains, inside and out, an artistic and technological masterpiece.
Outside, the splendour lies in its situation; marvellous ancient spaces flank it on two sides and it still floats above the river and above the canopy of trees as it did when it was first built.
Inside it is quite simply the most beautiful and sophisticated Romanesque building in the world. The building of this cathedral, a place of worship and a home to Saint Cuthbert’s shrine, began in 1093 and was largely completed within 40 years. The piers are 27 feet in circumference and 27 feet high; they ought to be dumpy but their extraordinary incised decoration and the way they are integrated into the stone vaulting above create a design that soars and is unforgettable.
The pointed arches of the ribs that support the vaults were invented here, the first pointed arches in the world. Durham Cathedral marks the absolute beginning of Gothic architecture.