The Comforting Curves of Arches

Arches have been used in buildings and gateways for thousands of years. The shape is dramatic and pleasing, and also serves to span open spaces and to bear weight.  Whether it’s the Coliseum in Rome or a small bridge over a creek, we love these sweeping curves.

For my money, no place makes much lovelier use of archways than the Stanford University campus.

The quad is full of them, and Memorial Church on the campus echoes that style and form.

Memorial Church was started in the 1890’s, and finished in 1903. In 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake shook the campus, destroying the clock tower and north face of the church, as well as the Memorial Arch leading to them.

The clock tower wasn’t rebuilt, but by 1917, the church had been completely restored from original plans – including the many mosaics and Frederick Lamb stained glass windows. After the 1989 earthquake, repairs had to be done again – and “MemChu” reopened in 1993.

Walking along the Stanford Quad, with its tile roofs and arched colonnades, I’ve often felt as if I were in some Medterranean location – I think it has some really lovely curves.


Click on photos to see larger versions.

This post was written in response to a Travel Theme challenge from Ailsa at wheresmybackpack. This week’s theme is Curves.  To see what curves other bloggers have thrown, click here.

This entry was posted in Photo Challenges, Travelogues and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to The Comforting Curves of Arches

  1. Fergiemoto says:

    All that intricate artwork and carvings are fabulous!


  2. I enjoyed it all the curves, beautiful capture !


  3. Wow, so interesting to see your post. I visited the Stanford campus just last week. The architecture there is simply gorgeous! I have numerous photos. I love arches. Lucky are the students who attend this university.


  4. eof737 says:

    I love arches too… something about those curve’s I find very soothing… and safe. 😉


  5. Madhu says:

    Lovely choice for curves! Almost Moorish!


  6. Amazing curves full of wonder. Beautiful images!


  7. Pat Bailey says:

    I like how you captured the moldings on the arch in the first photo. I love seeing detail. Good work – thanks for sharing.


  8. Amy says:

    You made great selections for the theme! The arches in Stanford are just remarkably beautiful.


  9. Madoqua says:

    This is a lovely post. It must be a really beautiful campus!


    • It really is. Jane and Leland Stanford built the university as a memorial to their son, and she built the church as a memorial to her husband. It was all very carefully planned, with the perfect location and faculty carefully chosen.


  10. Great curves. Memorial Church is amazing. It’s hard to tell, but the arches on the bottom look like they’re outlined in gold. Really gorgeous.


  11. lizeccentric7 says:

    Love curves in architecture. I know this is nerdy but as I worked with many architects in my career (purchasing land for builders and writing contracts) allowed me to visit and observe many types of buildings.
    Love houses that have the arches in the hallways.
    Great photos!


    • Thanks for your visit – I’m so glad you enjoyed it. My father-in-law was an architect, and he taught me to look at buildings in a very different way!


      • Yes, spending time with an Architect made me admire very old buildings too. There is a historic log cabin from the 1800’s in my town and the foundation is literally made from mud and rocks from the nearby creek. I find it quite interesting that the log cabin never fell down after all of these years, with such a foundation of only mud and creek rock. They have restored some of the wood, but the foundation is still from the 1800’s. I am writing a post soon on the cabin, still gathering the history of the building as it has a very long history, and was quite the restoration project here in this small town. They built a beautiful park around the small cabin – a very, very wealthy old woman lived there and donated all of her monies to the school near the cabin.

        Great post, I could go on and on about buildings, like old churches…amazes me how they hold up and are built so much better than the large buildings of today.

        People really knew how to build back in the old days. Even houses were built so much better and will better materials (here in America).


  12. adinparadise says:

    Lovely place to photograph curves. I especially love the one of the curvy quad. 😉


  13. Marianne says:

    Lovely curves! My favourites are the first one (the single arch) and the one of the building peeping through the series of arches.

    Ailsa has surpassed herself, as usual, with this week´s theme – and so have you! Great job.


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