Architectural Features in Ancient Greek Buildings

Architectural Features in Ancient Greek Buildings

Ancient Greek architecture is not only well known for its temples, but also for the open-air theatres (amphitheatres) and the open public market square or agora. Around the agora were often buildings fronted with an open wall of columns – a colonnade or stoa, for example the ‘Painted Stoa‘ of Ancient Athens.

The architectural styles found in these buildings, are based on the formalised method of construction and decoration that they liked to use. Their characteristic features can can be seen on their buildings that have survived to present day.

The Greeks developed three architectural styles, called orders, each with their own distinctive proportions and detailing. The Greekorders are: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

The Doric style is rather sturdy and its top (the capital), is plain. This style was used in mainland Greece and the colonies in southern Italy and Sicily.

The Ionic style is thinner and more elegant. Its capital is decorated with a scroll-like design (a volute). This style was found in eastern Greece and the islands.

The Corinthian style is seldom used in the Greek world, but often seen on Roman temples. Its capital is very elaborate and decorated with acanthus leaves.

Doric Order:For example, the Parthenon – temple of Athena Parthenos (“Virgin”), Greek goddess of wisdom, on the Acropolis in Athens. The Parthenon was built in the 5th century        BC, and despite the enormous damage it has sustained over the centuries, it still communicates the ideals of order and harmony for which Greek architecture is known.

Ionic Order: For example, Erechtheum – temple from the middle classical period of Greek art and architecture, built on the Acropolis of Athens between 421 and 405BC. The Erechtheum contained sanctuaries to Athena Polias, Poseidon, and Erechtheus.

The requirements of the several shrines and the location upon a sloping site produced an unusual plan. From the body of the building porticoes project on east, north, and south sides.
The southern portico, known as the Porch of the Caryatids…(Source B)  – six sculptured draped female figures that support its entablature. It is the temple’s most striking feature… one of the caryatids was removed to London by Lord Elgin, a replica being installed in it’s place.

SOURCE A : The Propylaea – gateway entrance to the Acropolis

SOURCE B: Porch of the Caryatids on the Erechtheum

SOURCE C -The Erechtheum – notice the Ionic style with the scroll-like design in it’s capital.

1. a) Where in Athens is the Erechtheum temple located?

b) What is the most well known and striking feature of this Ancient temple?
2. What was the Agora used for in Ancient Athens?

3. Describe the main architectural feature of buildings from ancient Greek times that are described as a stoa.

4. Sketch in your book each of the three architectural building styles, called orders. See the chart near the top of this page.
Just sketch the top part of the column, thecapital

With each, add one or two points of information about that particular order.

5.  Complete this cut-and-paste activity (pdf) Reconstruct the section of the building down the left-hand side of an A4 piece of paper. Neatly label the diagram with the correct Classical Greek architectural style or order. Also label your diagram with the different architectural terms, for the different stone building pieces or features as seen above. Also indicate on your diagram using a parenthesis, the part of the building referred to as the ‘entablature’.

SOURCE E  This cut-away diagram of the Parthenon, shows how the Panathenaic Frieze (coloured blue) ran around the architrave on the inner row of columns. The frieze was a series of, bas relief stone picture carvings, showing the different people participating in the Panathenaic Festival Procession.

The outer metopes and triglyphs as they would have appeared in their day.

The PEDIMENT ’round’ sculptures.

SOURCE E  A surviving part of the Pediment ’round’ sculptures (now in the British Museum)

6. What was the Panathenaic Frieze? (Who designed it and where was it located? What event did it portray what were some of the scenes it contained?)

7. Study the above illustration.
a) Where did the ancient Greeks use long wooden beams, in the construction of their buildings?
b) Why do you think they used wood in this part of the building construction and not stone?

8. Besides the three different orders or styles the ancient Greeks used in their buildings, list the other architectural features found in their building.
(You could include such things as : the material they used – bricks, wood, stone?: the basic geometric shapes used: the size: the use of columns with an external colonnade: use of colour: the roof cladding or covering: use of statues and bas reliefs (frieze or metopes)

9. Identify the architectural order of the above three Greek architectural styles.

10. Find, copy and paste in your book, a photograph of a modern building standing today, that has been built using one of the Ancient Greek architectural orders or features.