Architectural history on a euro note

You probably know the euro notes, especially the smallest notes you will have held in your hands many times. But have you ever studied them closely? Because on the notes you can see the main architectural styles from European architectural history recognise. From small to large, ancient to modern, each note shows fantasised architecture appropriate to a period. Below, we set them out for you.

5 Euro: Roman antiquity

The note shows a fantasised Roman gateway with 'rustica blocks' and ionic columns. A real-life example similar to this is the triumphal arch of Reims. An imperial triumphal arch from 180-230 AD that was popularly nicknamed Porte Mars because it was built near a temple of Mars.

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10 Euro: the Romanesque style

A typical Romanesque portal is seen on the note. Recognisable by its round arches and round-arch niches. A good practical example is the portal of the Sainte Foy of Morlaas (southern France) from around 1075-1150.

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20 Euro: The Gothic style

This note shows the recognisable windows from a Gothic church. The stained glass is visible, but also the recognisable 'mesh work' in such a window. Which can also be clearly seen on the practical example from Utrecht's Dom Church (13th and 14th centuries)

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Euro 50: Renaissance architecture

Renaissance architecture fantasised on this note. This style goes back to the Roman, but is clearly distinguished by a bit more freedom: an 'open' pediment, for example. The practical example is the design for the vestibule of the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence designed by Michelangelo in 1523.

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100 Euro: The Baroque

On the Baroque example on this note, we see that all brakes are released. The pediment starts to curl. We see 'Atlases', 'rustica bands', curling volutes, doubling of columns and pilasters etc. It is never decorative enough. The gate of the Beguinage in Diest from 1671 shows this 'Rubensian' baroque.

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Euro 200: Early modern architecture

Here we see architecture abandoning tradition and starting to build from practicality, using modern contemporary materials like steel and glass. The best practical example, which begins modern architecture, is the Crystal Palace in London from 1854. A building erected for the World's Fair, but sadly no longer exists.

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500 Euro: contemporary architecture/postmodernism

This note shows the style that has come to characterise contemporary architecture, lots of glass, but also just variety, cautious references to the past are allowed. A nice practical example is Java-island in Amsterdam (1990s), where postmodernist construction was done with a modern version of the typical Amsterdam canal houses from the Golden Age. 

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Postmodernism? Rustica? Pilasters? Are all these terms new to you? Would you like to learn to recognise the different building styles of architectural history yourself? Then take our Introduction to Architecture course.