Cathedrals

Monuments, as well as being secular, sought to acknowledge the existence of gods, or God. They were erected as an act of worship; a desire reaching out for kinship. Those dedicated to a panoply of idols and Olympian gods gave way to the monotheism of Akhenaten, King of Egypt, during the Eighteenth Dynasty. The worship of many idols was disabused by the Hebrews and the idea of the One God emphasized and disseminated, The adoption of Christianity as a religion, supported by the Roman Empire, stimulated the building of churches, then cathedrals. The simple one room baptisteries, then the parish churches, required little lifting. However, as the wealth and influence of the Church and governments of state grew, the cathedrals, seats of the bishoprics, became more elaborate, soaring ever-higher. These lofty and complex structures requiring a new breed of skilled craftsmen -- designers, masons, stained glass makers, carpenters and tile setters -- and those steeped in the art of hoisting materials. Each head of state and bishop sought to create the tallest and most richly adorned structure as a mark of distinction and power. As an example, the Cologne Cathedral, begun in 1166, took 634 years to complete, at which time it was the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. With twin towers 515 feet high, it was the tallest structure in the world, a distinction it held until 1889. The equivalent contesting in our day would be in building the world's tallest commercial skyscraper!