There are several reasons why Gothic architecture isn’t appreciated. First, most of it is physically very old, and in less than good repair–most of us have never seen it when it’s new and shiny. Second, a fair amount of Gothic architecture is now surrounded by other buildings, when originally, these buildings often had a lot of open space surrounding them, even when they were in urban areas. Finally, the size and scope of these buildings is overshadowed by the scale of modern architecture.
Pictures from a recent story about Cistercian monks in California who have rebuilt a 12th century Spanish monastery demonstrate how impressive these buildings would have looked back then. From a distance (all photos by Max Whittaker for The New York Times):
New! Shiny! Even when dim, the interiors are still impressive:
And when things are clean and scrubbed, they look light and airy (for a big stone building anyway):
When one thinks about it, these buildings must have been awe-inspiring to their contemporaries–in a medieval agrarian economy, these buildings represented an incredible amount of resources and skilled labor.