Greek temples were built to honor and glorify the patron deity. They were built as the god's house on earth, and usually held a cult statue featuring the god. They evaluate symmetry and harmony in the structures. The temples were made of cut stone marble blocks without mortar, and were decorated with sculpture usually depicting mythological themes or rituals. Temples were often a symbol of the city's prosperity, and thus were a great value to the Greek life.
Several architectural techniques were employed by Greek architects to give the impression of perfection and a lighter feeling. Entasis, or the slight curvature of columns, as well as the barely arched platforms, were used to improve the aesthetic quality of these temples. There are three styles of Greek temples, which are the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. In all of these orders, the shaft of the column tapers towards the top of capital.
The Doric order was originated on the Greek homeland and was mainly used there. It is the simplest of the three, with between 16 and 20 flutings. In this style, the columns rest directly on the stylobate. The capitals are simple disks with no adornments. The architrave is plain but the metopes were usually decorated with relief sculpture.
The Ionic order from the Ionian Greek territories, has columns that are taller and more slender than those of the Doric. The flutings of the Ionic order columns are separated by narrow ridges, and stand on bases. The capitals are more decorative than Doric order columns, with spiral volutes on both sides. The architrave is made up of three flat sections, each projecting over the one below, and the frieze is continuous, without triglyphs to divide it up.
The Corinthian order was used widely during the Roman Empire, and is similar to the Ionic in most aspects except the capital. The Corinthian column is distinct due to the acanthus leaves which adorn the circular capital. The architrave is concave in this order. Occasionally female figures, called caryatids, replaced the fluted columns.
Greek Architecture has had a great influence on later architecture especially during the Renaissance. Public buildings such as courthouses and banks have often been designed in the style of Greek architecture.
Temple of Hera
Altar of Zeus