Aqueducts were carved into the flying buttresses to divert water from the structure’s base, roof, and other weak points. The water would then flow out a spout usually adorned with mythical, figural sculptures known as gargoyles.
Why Were Gargoyles Used on Flying Buttresses?
Gargoyles have been a part of architecture for centuries, particularly in Europe. From castles to cathedrals, these grotesque figures have been used to adorn and protect buildings, but why were gargoyles used on flying buttresses?
The flying buttress is a structural feature first used in Gothic architecture in the 12th century. It is an arched support system built against the exterior walls of cathedrals and churches. This structure made the walls thinner, making the building taller and with more oversized windows. The flying buttress was a remarkable engineering accomplishment, but it was also aesthetically pleasing.
The gargoyles used on flying buttresses were more than just decorations. The grotesque figures were believed to ward off evil spirits and protect the building from harm. In medieval times, it was thought that evil spirits could enter the building through the buttresses and bring about disaster. So, the gargoyles were placed on the buttresses to scare away these spirits. The grotesque figures and the associated stories had a strong symbolic meaning.
Gargoyles were also used to convey religious messages. The figures often depicted biblical characters or scenes. For instance, the gargoyle on the flying buttress