Pointed Arch
Ribbed Vault
Flying Buttress
Maps & Models

Architecture of Gothic Medieval Cathedrals

Remi Flying Buttress
Flying Buttress

Flying buttresses are another character-defining feature of medieval Gothic cathedrals. A flying buttress is made up of two parts: the buttress, a large masonry block; and the “flyer,” an arch spanning between the buttress and the exterior wall. A flying buttress works by transferring forces from vaulted ceilings and wind that push against an exterior wall across the “flyer” and then down the buttress to the ground. The buttress is often capped with a pinnacle or statue and adds weight to transfer lateral forces down to the ground. Together with the ribbed vaulting, made up of pointed arches, flying buttresses created a stone skeleton of the cathedral. Between the openings crated by each, walls and ceilings were made lighter and filled with windows and decoration.