A catenary arch is a type of architectural pointed arch that follows an inverted catenary curve. It is common in cathedrals and in Gothic arches used in Gothic architecture. It is not a parabolic arch.
The 17th-century scientist Robert Hooke wrote, "Ut pendet continuum flexile, sic stabit contiguum rigidum inversum", or, "As hangs a flexible cable so, inverted, stand the touching pieces of an arch." 
A note written by Thomas Jefferson in 1788 reads, "I have lately received from Italy a treatise on the equilibrium of arches, by the Abbé Mascheroni. It appears to be a very scientifical work. I have not yet had time to engage in it; but I find that the conclusions of his demonstrations are, that every part of the catenary is in perfect equilibrium".
This is done by a catenary curve: Catenary arches are strong, as they redirect the vertical force of gravity into compression forces pressing along the arch's curve. In a uniformly loaded catenary arch, the line of thrust runs through its center.
Cathedrals and churchesEdit
- King’s College Chapel, in Cambridge, England
- St Paul's Dome
- Brunelleschi's Dome
- Casa Batlló has catenary arches
- Casa Mila, in Barcelona, Spain was designed by Antoni Gaudi, who used many catenary arches
- Church of Colònia Güell
Rainbow Natural Bridge in the U.S. state of Utah has a natural catenary shape, possibly produced by weathering in high-stress areas. Kolob Arch and Landscape Arch, also in Utah, have a catenary shape as well.
Igloos are designed with a catenary arch cross-section. This shape offers an optimal balance between height and diameter, avoiding the risk of collapsing under the weight of compacted snow.
A catenary bridge has the form of a catenary arch.
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- The use of the catenary arch in architecture
- Natural arches that are catenary arches
- Twisted Physics reference
- Used in building
- More on the catenary, used in arches
- A few catenary arches
- An experiment
- A youtube, all about catenary arches
- A second youtube
- a youtube on building a catenary arch
- Another youtube