The Mysterious Stone Creatures On Buildings: 36 Creepy Gargoyles From Around the World
News > The Mysterious Stone Creatures On Buildings: 36 Creepy Gargoyles From Around the World
In architecture, a gargoyle or a 'grotesque', is a stone sculpture usually made of granite. They adorn many old stone buildings. Many people look at these strange and sometimes scary beasts made of stone and ask themselves why the architects decided to create these statues? Was it for beauty? For mystical protection?
1. Natural History Museum, London, England
Gargoyles are carved or formed sculptures with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building.
2. Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia
The term originates from the French
gargouille, which in English is likely to mean 'throat' or is otherwise known as the 'gullet'; cf. Latin gurgulio, gula, gargula ('gullet' or 'throat') and similar words derived from the root gar, 'to swallow,' which represented the gurgling sound of water 3. San Juan de los Reyes Monastery, Toledo, Spain
It is also connected to the French verb
gargariser, which shares a Latin root with the verb 'gargle' and is likely imitative in origin. 4. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
They are usually built to be an elongated shape standing away from the building, so they can funnel the water as far away from the building as possible.
5. Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany
So, these stone beasts are actually there to prevent rainwater from running down the masonry wall and slowly eroding the mortar between the stones, thereby weakening the structure.
6. Cathedral of Quito, Quito, Ecuado
When not constructed as a waterspout and only serving an ornamental or artistic function, the correct term for such a sculpture is a grotesque, chimera, or boss. Just as with bosses and chimeras, gargoyles are said to frighten off and protect those that it guards, such as a church, from any evil or harmful spirits.
7. Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
However, in common usage, the word 'gargoyle' is generally used to describe any monstrous sculpture, whether intended as a waterspout or not. Whatever the reason, it's hard not to be affected by these bizarre creations!
8. Forbidden City, Beijing, China
gargoyle is most often applied to medieval work, but throughout all ages, some means of water diversion, when not conveyed in gutters, was adopted. 9. Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
In Ancient Egyptian architecture, gargoyles showed little variation, typically in the form of a lion's head. Similar lion-mouthed water spouts were also seen on Greek temples. An excellent example of this are the 39 remaining lion-headed water spouts on the Temple of Zeus.
10. Washington National Cathedral, Washington D.C., USA
Many medieval cathedrals included gargoyles and chimeras. The most famous examples are those of Notre Dame de Paris. Although most have grotesque features, the term gargoyle has come to include all types of images. Some gargoyles were depicted as monks, or combinations of real animals and people, many of which were humorous.
11. Marble Church, Bodelwyddan, Clwyd, Wales
There is also a French legend about Gargoyles that sprang up around the name of St. Romanus (French:
Romain; fl. c. 631 – 641 AD), the former chancellor of the Merovingian king Clotaire II who was made bishop of Rouen, and how he delivered the country around Rouen from a monster called Gargouille or Goji. 12. St. Nicholas Church, Lüneburg, Germany
La Gargouille is said to have been the typical dragon with batlike wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth. There are multiple versions of the story, either that St. Romanus subdued the creature with a crucifix, or he captured the creature with the help of the only volunteer, a condemned man.
13. Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada
In each, the monster is led back to Rouen and burned, but its head and neck would not burn due to being tempered by its own fire breath. The head was then mounted on the walls of the newly built church to scare off evil spirits, and used for protection. In commemoration of St. Romain, the Archbishops of Rouen were granted the right to set a prisoner free on the day that the reliquary of the saint was carried in procession.
14. Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany Why are gargoyles so scary? 15. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
In middle ages, the primary use of the gargoyle was to illustrate evil through the form of the gargoyle.
16. Reims Cathedral, Reims, France
During the 12th century, when gargoyles appeared in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was growing stronger and converting many new people. Most of the population at this time were illiterate, and therefore images were very important to convey ideas.
17. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Many early gargoyles depicted some version of a dragon, especially in France. In addition to serving as spouts for water, the gaping mouths of these gargoyles evoked the fearsome destructiveness of these legendary beasts, reminding the laity of the need for the church's protection.
18. University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Not everyone in In the Catholic Church was a fan of gargoyles. 12th century, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was famous for speaking out against gargoyles:
'What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters before the eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, these strange savage lions, and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man, or these spotted tigers? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent's head, there a fish with a quadruped's head, then again an animal half horse, half goat... Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities, we should at least regret what we have spent on them.'
19. Château d’Amboise, Amboise, France
Today, many people find gargoyles and grotesques fascinating. Whether ornamental or functional, their symbolism and ability to stir the emotions of those that gaze upon them is intriguing.
20. Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
Below you will find a collection of many other examples of gargoyles and grotesques around the world.
21. Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, England 22. Biltmore Estate, North Carolina, USA 23. Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway 24. Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, Barcelona, Spain 25. Palma Cathedral, Palma, Mallorca, Spain 26. Magdalen College, Oxford, England 27. Zagreb Cathedral, Zagreb, Croatia 28. Washington National Cathedral, Washington D.C., USA 29. Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain 30. Westminster Abbey, London, England 31. Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain 32. St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland 33. Notre Dame de l’Épine, Marne, France 34. Plummer Building, Rochester, Minnesota 36. Château d’Amboise, Amboise, France