If at some point in life you have decided to visit one of the great cathedrals that exist around the world, you’ve probably been able to observe closely a window type circulating on the walls of the temple. This is what in art, design and architecture is known by the name of rose window and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful pieces that these types of constructions have.


What is a Rosette?

In the world of architecture, a rose window is a window that has a circle shape that also has a series of interesting ornaments and borders . The term can be used to refer to circular ceiling ornaments.



The rosette is a type of glass embedded in a circle which can be found mainly in the walls of the cathedral. This stained-glass window also has several smaller windows that radiate from the center, similar to the petals of flowers, in other words they are arranged radially.


Rose window characteristics

The rose windows have their own characteristics that identify them very well and the differences from other large and striking types of windows. Among its main characteristics are the following:

  • The most common place to find them is in churches , mainly large cathedrals .
  • They are located mostly to the west of the nave or in the main part of the church.
  • When they were created they were small in size , however, with the passage of time their size increased considerably.
  • The designs have been modified over time thanks to tracery (development of decorative stones).
  • They are made up of different types of geometric figures .
  • It has a very important symbolism within the Catholic religion .
  • Some of the stained glass windows that make them up may contain biblical scenes .
  • The colors used to make them are generally vivid and eye-catching.
  • It managed to obtain its maximum splendor thanks to the Gothic style .
  • It usually represents months, seasons, virtues, apostles, and Old Testament prophets.


The origin of the rose window began with the oculi, which were small round windows that began to be manufactured by Roman architects . However, it was in the 12th century that this type of structure gained more recognition mainly thanks to the Gothic architecture that developed in France . With the passage of time, rose windows were used more frequently throughout Europe , especially in places like England and Spain .

It is important to remember that during the Gothic period , the architecture within the churches took more relevance and meaning, the constructions were much more elaborate and the temples began to be built with higher heights , which made it possible for the rose window to be included within the designs. The new techniques used such as tracery , stone supports and ribs between the glass were present making this type of window even more decorative and striking. The first rose window created was made in 1200.

Rosette function

The function of the rose window, in addition to being decorative , is symbolic . A curious aspect is that these windows are shaped like a mandala, which represents the expression of human aspiration. These mandalas have been around for thousands of years and have been linked to philosophy for centuries. Its function then is to operate at levels related to the human being such as the spiritual , meditation and the emotional plane . It has also been used to represent God, Christ and the Virgin.

Types of rosette

The rosettes are made according to the order of rotation and depending on the isometry . In order to understand this, it is necessary to know that there are four types of plane isometries: translation, rotation, reflection, or axial and displaced. The translational isometry implies the displacement of the entire rosette in a certain direction, the rotational isometry implies turning at a certain angle with respect to the center of rotation, the reflection is turning the motif at an angle of 180 ° around a line while that the displaced reflection is to reflect the motif in order to later be able to translate a copy in the direction of the reflection axis.

There are two types of rosettes which are:

Cyclical rosette

In this type of rosette the isometries are rotations of order 5, in other words, they can rotate through an angle of 360 °. Applying this angle is the same as going one full turn, and that’s where it gets its name.

Dihedral rosette

This name comes from the reflections that the rose window has. In it, the reflection can be seen as a spatial rotation with a dihedral angle and the plane rotation as a composition of special rotations that are placed in succession to the motif.


Like all artifacts found inside churches, rose windows have a symbolism , in other words they have a meaning. In this case, its symbolism is based on geometry that indicates that many parts can form a whole. This type of window has several geometric shapes and in addition, they have a specific number of shapes, each of them has a meaning and to better understand it, you should think about the numbers found in the Bible . Some of them have twelve spokes, which is related to the twelve apostles mentioned in the holy book. If the rose window is studied in general terms, it can be thought that it symbolizes the Trinity, in other words, God the Father , Son and Holy Spirit .

Gothic c

The Gothic rose window was a very important part of Gothic architecture . They are circular shaped windows whose function is to provide lighting inside the temple adding mysticism and light effects. It was considered as a divine quality and was similar to a rose so it was related to the virgin . It is possible to observe it in the Cathedral of Notre Dame and in the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Romanesque rosette

The Romanesque rose window was more shaped like an oculus so its dimensions were smaller and it did not give much importance to issues related to design and ventilation . However, they are characteristic of many Roman Catholic churches , mainly in Italy and Germany where this style was present for many years. They can be seen in the cathedral of Worms located in Germany, in the early Christian basilica of S. Agnese in Rome and in the Church of the Apostles in Cologne to mention a few places.

Many churches have a Romanesque style dating from the 12th and 13th centuries , which feature windows and openings filled with Gothic tracery that mark the transition to an entirely new style. In Italy, the Romanesque rose window was widely used on the facades of Renaissance and Baroque churches .


The rose window is an element of great importance both for architecture and history as well as for churches because they fulfill a function of religious symbolism in them. For Catholic Christians, this type of construction or window reminds them of Christ, thus creating a mysterious and religious environment. They are also important because thanks to them adequate lighting is achieved within the churches.

Leave a Comment