I am totally impressed by the architectural skills of Lego builder Hobo Sapien and his digital creation titled Cathedral of the Great Visage. This is a fictional cathedral but it’s actually a fairly accurate layout for an Early Gothic-era Cathedral. Who would have thought my art history would come in handy one day? So get ready: I am going to lay down some knowledge like a lintel on a post (sorry). First off, the silhouette of the building is pretty good. You have your giant rose window centered right above the front entrance. Beautiful! The buttresses are flying (as they should be). The designer used ingots and Microfigures in a clever way to recreate the archivolt over the main entrance. The peak at the top is a traditional-styled gable, but you don’t often see them filled with a wizard in handcuffs (though that is some cool creative license).
The interior is pretty neat too! Looking across the transept you have a nice view of the altar with the ambulatory wrapping around behind it. The Ionic—actually, I think they’re Corinthian—columns draw the eyes up to the vaulted ceilings. It is all lit by mysteriously glowing candles which provide this really mystical vibe. Man! LEGO bricks are cool.
When construction began on the Aachen Cathedral around 796, its builders could hardly have imagined that someday it would be translated into a miniature LEGO version. But Jochen Haas done a beautiful job translating the final resting place of Charlemagne into bricks. When I first saw the large dome in the middle, I thought Jochen’s technique of using a series of curved slopes at intervals was an interesting effect, but left it with an unfortunate ribbed look. But apparently I’d forgotten what the real cathedral looks like, because a little quick research shows that the real dome is actually ribbed as well. In fact, the whole model feels as though it could be an official LEGO Architecture set–and if you want to build this one yourself, for once you’re in luck, because Jochen has actually created free instructions, though you’ll need to provide the parts yourself.
Yes, over 800 hours! That’s a long time, for sure, but not as long as the Vatican has been around, and less time than Michelangelo spent painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, too; yet this is no less a piece of art. This huge and detailed build by Rocco Buttliere is the first to depict an entire country in a single LEGO build, which is quite the accomplishment. It helps that Vatican City is the world’s smallest country, but still, everything is here, from the enormous St. Peter’s to the Vatican Gardens, along with every other building inside Vatican City, like the local supermarket and post office.
Now, I’ve seen Rocco’s huge and detailed version of Ancient Rome (huge and detailed seems to be a running theme with Rocco, like his Forbidden City and even a shopping mall), but I’ve never been to Rome. However, I have seen many pictures of St. Peter’s Basilica and the famous square in front of it, and everyone has seen pictures of the Sistine Chapel’s interior. But this LEGO version includes so much detail, it’s like I’ve been there now. In his typical style, Rocco also gives copious information with each picture, evidence of the amount of time spent meticulously researching his subject matter.
Click to see more details of the world’s smallest country in small plastic bricks
A limited color palette can be tricky to work with in a creation. I’ve done LEGO builds where I only used one color, and it was challenging. Cab ~ here has limited the palette in this cathedral to just three: light bluish grey, transparent red, and transparent yellow. The back-lit stained glass is beautiful, each window unique and telling part of the Easter story, according to the builder, if in an abstracted way. The vaulted ceiling, held together by interior flex tube, looks great, too. It does look a little bland with only grey, however, or maybe just incomplete; so perhaps now that the masons have finished their part, the rest of the artisans can get to work adding paintings, gilded ornaments, and tapestries to outfit the cathedral for its intended purpose, glorifying God.
Like church architecture? Check out some more churches and cathedrals in the TBB archives.
With all that is going on in the world today, it makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to travel again. Will I get to see Italy, with all of its beautiful architecture, from the Roman ruins to the Catholic cathedrals, in person? Maybe not; although, if airfare stays cheap, I might be able to afford it for once! But just in case I can’t make the trip myself, talented LEGO builders like Giacinto Consiglio bring a taste of Italy to me. In this case, it is St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The architectural beauty is lovingly crafted for us in microscale, perfect for tiny statuette tourists and worshipers.
These days, I find it increasingly difficult to differentiate between good renders and photos of real bricks, but does it really matter when the building is done so well? The tower is fantastic, especially the windows. The winged lion representing St. Mark over the entrance is also lovely, as are all of the other saint statues with One Ring golden halos. But my favorite detail has to be that rose window on the south facade, with excellent use of the newer arch piece. It’s the best rose window I have seen in LEGO, at any scale. Now to go buy my plane tickets to pay a visit to the real thing!
When the master builders of the Renaissance were building things from bricks, they were not using ABS plastic like LEGO master builders do today. They were building with marble, constructing some of the most beautiful buildings ever built. The proportions, the balance, the arrangement of the different elements were intended to raise the hearts and spirits of those visiting to an experience of the supernatural. Scaled down and converted from marble to ABS, those same buildings remain awe-inspiring. Take this model of Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence, Italy. Perhaps bricksandtiles is not Arnolfo di Cambio or Filippo Brunelleschi, some of the men who designed various parts of it (the cathedral was under construction from 1296 until 1436, when the dome was completed and the church was consecrated, so lots had their hand on it), but nonetheless this LEGO version is spectacular in its own right.
The famed octagonal dome is built from countless rounded 1×2 plates, mimicking the tiled roof splendidly. Sand green grille tiles serve as green marble borders to the intricate multicolored inlays on the real thing. But there is a lot more inlaying of sand green with the white, brick built all over the place. With the tower and the baptistry, the whole structure is a massive LEGO build, worthy of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Of course, this is not the first version of the cathedral featured on The Brothers Brick; check out another LEGO Florence cathedral we featured last year.
Here’s a LEGO model worthy of a little worship. Gerald Cacas has put together this wonderful microscale rendition of Manila’s Cathedral. There’s an impressive level of detail on display here, with smart texturing around the base, at the top of the walls, and on the dome. My head hurts just looking at the brickwork that’s gone into the belltower.
Modelling an existing building with any sort of accuracy at this scale is an achievement in itself, but to include a detailed interior? That’s just showing off! Gerald does exactly that with a lift-off roof revealing the inside — complete with pews and altar. This is excellent microscale work.
Chartre Cathedral is the crowning masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, built primarily between 194 and 1220. I studied the cathedral in college, but today I mainly remember it as a climbable location in Assassin’s Creed. So much for my higher education. Nevertheless, Isaac Snyder says he was inspired to build Our Lady of Chartre in LEGO microscale for a college assignment. Isaac packs an amazing amount of detail into the tiny structure, from the different spires of the west façade to the rows of flying buttresses behind the south porch.
The other side is no less wonderfully detailed, with round chapels extending from the apse.
Markus Rollbühler is a LEGO product designer based in Billund, Denmark. Despite spending his weekdays working with LEGO pieces, Markus challenges himself to build microscale versions of the world’s most famous cathedrals in his spare time. His very special series of architectural masterpieces featuring Frauenkirche Dresden and Santa Maria della Salute is now joined by a marvelous copy of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is famous for its nine chapels of vibrant colors. Markus did an amazing job recreating each of them in a unique building style using bricks, hoses, slopes, and tiles of over a dozen different colors. However, the most genius trick of the build is nine sonic screwdrivers right from Doctor Who sets used as crosses on top of the chapels.
And, of course, the cathedral is totally worth checking out from all angles — make sure you visit Markus’ photosream for more high-res pictures!
Sometimes great things take time to create, as is the case with the Milan Cathedral. Construction began in 1386, with the final details (a gate) being completed in 1965. Renovations on the magnificent building continue even today. Hopefully brickbink‘s version did not take six centuries.
This inspired version is recognizable as the famous landmark, with its beautiful doors and statues. The only thing missing is an exorbitant amount of pigeons.
Castle and fantasy builders certainly like to build big. But most of the large castle dioramas that we showcase are limited to exteriors. So it’s exciting to see someone focus on a large interior instead!
This amazing cathedral interior by Pippo Zane was inspired by the final scenes of the 1985 movie Ladyhawke. And while the cathedral itself is deliberately jazzier than the one in the movie, the characters are all faithfully represented.
There are so many little details to explore in this build. But I particularly love the stuff going on in the balconies, and of course the stained glass windows.