Greek architecture begins with the Aegean Civilization. The giant complex of Knossos and the wonderful sited structures at Phaistos (both from 1700-1400 BC) are typical of this age. Constructed from masonry, the architecture was several stories high and had large pillars, many maze-like smaller rooms, giant terraces, and astonishing plumbing arrangements. The walls were decorated with frescoes and and stucco bas-reliefs. The columns were sometimes used to decorate doors and gateways in fancy palaces. It was the column and the beam (post and lintel) that formed the basis of Greek architecture.
The Greeks started a vocabulary for architecture and architecture detail. Classical Greek architecture consisted of three orders: the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. These orders distinguished the basic components of a Greek building with columns, capitals, entablature, and pediments. Each of the orders had its own distinctive look. There was often a sculptured frieze. Greeks never combined different orders.
The basic building material was marble. These simple temples with their unique architectural features were their crowning achievement. The most famous of these Greeks temples was the Parthenon in Athens.