Gothic buildings are characterized by rib vaults, pointed or lancet arches , flying buttresses , decorative tracery and gables , and stained-glass windows . Typical Gothic buildings include the Cathedrals of Salisbury and old St. Paul’s in England , and Notre Dame de Paris in France . The Gothic style developed out of Romanesque architecture in France in the mid 12th century , and then spread throughout Europe . The decorative elements of Gothic architecture became highly developed in buildings of the English Decorated style (late 13th-14th century) and the French Flamboyant style (15th-16th century) . These styles are exemplified by the tower of Salisbury Cathedral and the staircase in the Church of St. Maclou , respectively . In both of these styles , embellishments such as ball flowers and curvilinear (flowing) tracery were used liberally . The English perpendicular style (late 14th-15th century) , which followed the decorated style , emphasized the vertical and horizontal elements of building . A notable feature of this style is the hammer-beam roof .