Ancient Greek Architecture Facts
When we think of ancient Greek architecture what usually comes to mind are the amazing temples built by this ancient civilization. The Parthenon, the Temple of
Poseidon, the Temple of Apollo, the Temple of Aphaia, and the Temple of the Olympian Zeus are just a few of the amazing temples that were built. Other interesting
buildings erected by the ancient Greek people include open-air theatres like the one at Delphi and beautiful town squares (agora) the most famous of which is the Agora
of Athens located near the Acropolis. The ruins of many of these famous structures are still standing today for kids and adults alike to marvel at.
In this section of Ancient Greece facts we cover ancient Greek architecture facts. There is information on the Greek order of architecture, which Greek architectural
history is divided into, along with specific examples of many of the amazing structures they erected.
Greek Order of Architecture
Classical Greek architecture is classified into three styles (orders) which are Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian. The order is mainly distinguished by the type of column
employed in the structure. Many people mistakenly believe that Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian are types of columns. The order dictated the relationships and proportions
of all the architecture components of a building. These orders represent the entire structure including the horizontal upper part of the structure, called the
entablature, supported by the columns. The entablature consisted of three parts which are:
- The architrave (lower part)
- The frieze (middle part)
- The cornice (top part)
- The height and diameter of the columns dictated the size of the other parts of the structure.
- Earlier structures had only one order present. Later structures would sometimes incorporate one order for the exterior and a different order for the interior.
- Description of the 3 Orders
- Doric - This is the earliest and simplest ancient Greek architectural style. The most famous example of this order is the Parthenon.
- Ionic- This order originated on the Ionian islands in the Ionian Sea off the west coast of Greece in the 6th century BC. These structures were more decorative than
the Doric style with taller more slender appearing columns. The Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis in Athens is an example of this style.
- Corinthian - The latest and least used of the Greek orders. Characteristics of this style include slender fluted columns and very decorative capitals (column
tops). The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae built in the middle of the 5th century BC is one of the earliest examples of this style.
General Ancient Greek Architecture Facts
- Early Greek architecture was influenced by that of ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians created the basic design of a column in that it had a pedestal at the
bottom and a capital at the top.
- Early in Greek history temples were made of wood. Stone, especially marble, became the material of choice in the 7th century BC. Marble was very plentiful in
- European and American architecture has been greatly influenced by ancient Greek architecture. The U.S. Capitol building is a great example of this.
- The ancient Greek architects built temples to be viewed from the outside. People were generally not allowed inside them.
- The word "architect" originates from the ancient Greek word for a master carpenter.