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Doors as Art

A prehung exterior door is one of the most functional elements of a home. They are used on a daily basis, must be strong enough to take a good deal of wear and tear, and look beautiful through it all. Throughout history there have been some doors that have been created with an entirely different purpose in mind. They were created not to be functional, but to be a work of art. Here are just a few of the most elaborate, artistic doors in history.

The Gates of Paradise

The Gates of Paradise are considered the signature work of Lorenzo Ghiberti, one of the artistic masters of the Renaissance. These magnificent doors are 17 feet tall and weigh 3 tons. Made of bronze over the course of 27 years, the Gates of Paradise depict scenes from the Old Testament.


The Ishtar Gate

Built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in the year 575 BC, the Ishtar Gate was the main entrance into the city of Babylon, located in modern day Iraq. Made up of brilliantly blue glazed bricks as well as yellow, brown, and blue tiles, the gate depicts images of young bulls, lions, and dragons. All representing Babylonian deities.


The Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

The Holy Doors, or Porta Sancta, is a doorway in the Vatican of Rome, that is opened only on Catholic Jubilee Years which occur every 25 years or so. The opening of the door, which contains many relief sculptures of Biblical events, symbolizes the forgiveness of God to mortals.


Vyšehrad Castle Door

Vyšehrad Castle was built in Prague, Czech Republic, during the 10th century. Used as a fort, a church, cemetery and a residence it has changed hands many times in the past thousand years. Today, the cemetery contains the remains of some well-known people from Czech history, including the composer Antonin Dvořák.


Smithsonian Castle Doors

The Smithsonian Castle, located in Washington D.C., was completed in 1855. John Smithson, a well-traveled English scientist left his wealth to the United States. This gift has been put to good use over the last century and a half, with the Smithsonian history, art, and scientific additions to the national Mall in Washington D.C. proving to be a national landmark. The doors themselves reflect a “Norman” style, a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles of the late 12th century.


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