In this section of Architecture Through the Ages, you will learn about the great Greek Architecture including the style and structures of Greek Architecture. We hope that you enjoy this section.
The Three Orders
The first inhabitants of the Greek peninsula, who are believed to be Neolithic, built very primitive and basic structures. The houses were mainly built with a circular, oval, apsidal, or rectangular shape. The rectangular house was mostly square, but some were oblong, and had the entrance at one of the short ends. They used mud bricks and stones in the mud with reeds or brush to help build the house. Most of the houses had one room, there were very rarely two.
The next group of settlers were the Minoan architects. Their towns were mostly residential with little or no temples and public places. Unlike earlier people, their houses were private and had many rooms. However, to separate rooms, they would use only pillars. Thus, the house was very open. The stairways were a very prominent feature for these massive homes. This began a whole new era for the Greeks dealing with architecture.
During the Classical Greek architecture period, it was made up of three different orders that are most commonly seen in their temples. These three orders were the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The orders are also known for their columns style. The Corinthian order was not used as widely as the Doric of Ionic. The reason being, is that the Corinthian order was fancier than the others, and had a lot more detail. Thus, information dealing with this order is very little, and some is not worth putting up.
The most basic order for their temples would be the Doric order. Doric architecture was known for being used by the Spartans. It all starts with some wood shafts, which latter was replaced by stone. On the top of the shaft, were circular pads with a square block of wood over it. The vertical columns were used to support the beams called architraves. In order to form the ceiling, other beams were laid across the building with their ends on these architraves. On the end of these beams, they could be channeled to make a triglyph. On the top of a triglyph there would be another beam which would be placed for the overhanging rafters. These type of beams were referred as to a mutules. The finishing touches for the roof had to have a flat gables called pediments. The gutter ran along the top of the pediments and ended at a lion's mouth. This acted like a drain. The materials that were used for the roofs were thatch and the terra-cotta and marble. The of Doric temples were similar to those of the Ionic order in lay out and design.
The final order would be the Ionic order. Their columns were more slender than those of the Doric order. Their dimensions were eight to nine meters high, instead of four to five. The columns had a molded base which was placed under them and then sculpted figures on the lower part of the shaft were added. At the top of these shafts, were rectangular blocks of stone, which were carved in the shape of hair or other wave and line shapes.
1. Levy, Kate, [Online] Available http://chs-web.neb.net/usr/katelevy/greek/greek.html, July 23, 1997
2. Scranton, Robert L., "Greek Architecture" George Braziller Publishing
Photographs provided by Mrs. Todd