3 Greek Orders Periods and Features

Greek Architecture

The architecture of Ancient Greece laid the foundations for what would be built in the West during the following centuries, and its influence is found to this day. In this article we will provide you the information about the 3 Greek Orders .

The Greeks owe the creation of a totally new architectural language, highlighting the Greek orders . As well as the foundation of the basic concepts not only of architecture, but also of sculpture and painting, and the formulation of rules for artistic creation.

Based on calculations and perfect proportions and influenced by mythology , Greek architecture pays primary attention to the construction of temples.

Temples were places designed for the gods and where architectural sculptures representing them were found.

Temples were built on high places so that they could be seen from different angles. Initially made of wood, they were built in stone at the end of the 7th century BC.

Most temples were made of marble or covered with this stone, but limestone was also built, for example. There is also evidence that the buildings would have been painted and the most used colors were red and blue.

In addition to temples, the Greeks also stood out in the construction of stadiums, theaters and public squares, and the construction of housing was more careless at that time.

the greek temples

Greek temples are the most famous works of Greek architecture. They were built for the gods and also housed sculptures depicting these deities.

Temples were also used as venues for political and religious events and ceremonies. They were, therefore, places of social conviviality.

The space where these temples were built was an important factor, high places were sought, which would value the works and could be seen from different places.

One of the most well-known and monumental buildings in ancient Greece is the Parthenon . Erected during the reconstruction of the Acropolis of Athens (which had been destroyed by the Persians c. 480 BC), it is one of the temples that constitutes and defines the classical phase of Greek art.

Parthenon was consecrated to the goddess Athena, who gave its name to the city of Athens and was its patroness. Of Doric order, it was built in white marble and in the highest place in the city, attracting all the attention of the surroundings.

During the following centuries, and after serving the goddess Athena, the Parthenon also served as a Byzantine church, a Catholic cathedral and, finally, a Turkish mosque.

Today it is in ruins, the state in which it was from 1687, when it was used as a magazine for the Ottomans and it exploded during a siege (military operation).

In the 19th century, the English plundered its interior and took most of the sculptures, which are now in the British Museum.

One of the oldest and best preserved temples, the Paestum, is located in southern Italy and was built in 550 BC This temple was built in honor of the goddess Hera and is considered a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Another monumental work by the Greeks was the Temple of Erechtheion , also located on the Acropolis of Athens, facing the Parthenon . Built between 421 and 405 BC, it was a sanctuary with religious functions and its name is inspired by Erectheus , a legendary king of Athens.

Erechtheion is also famous for the Caryatids, sculptures of women that served as a column in one of the Porticos of the temple.

The 3 Greek architectural orders

We have no idea that architecture has ever been discussed here at Cultura de Algibeira, but there is a first time for everything. So today we are going to talk about architectural orders, that is, about the characteristics that affect the construction of an element, following a certain style with previously defined and standardized elements. For this specific article, we are going to talk about the 3 Greek orders.

1 – Doric Order

So let’s start by talking about the Doric Order, an order that reached its peak of popularity in the 5th century BC. Originating in the Peloponnese, in southern Greece, this order is considered the simplest of the Greek orders, as the columns of this style have no base and their shafts have twenty grooves. In its capital, the column’s equinox resembles a cushion that holds the column’s abacus, a simple quadrangular element. The frieze of these works is interspersed between triglyphs and metopes, and this architectural order was mainly used on the exterior of temples dedicated to male deities.

2 – Ionic Order

We now move on to the Ionian Order, an architectural order that arose on the eastern side of Greece and was later adopted by Athens around 450 BC. Having been developed in parallel with the Doric Order, this order presents more fluid forms, being associated with temples dedicated to female deities. Columns of this style have a wide base and nine modules in height, a difference compared to the four to eight modules in height of the Doric Order. The shaft of these columns also features a greater number of grooves, twenty-four, while a new element was added to their capital between the cushion and the abacus, this new element being the volutes, two rolls projected to the side of the columns. The frieze of the Ionic Order is a unique element, decorated in continuity.

3 – Corinthian Order

Finally, it remains for us to talk about the Corinthian Order, an order that is characteristic of the end of the 5th century BC, used mainly inside buildings. Being a more decorative and elaborate style than the models of the two previous orders, Corinthian columns are ten modules high, while maintaining the twenty-four flutes of the Ionic Order. The capital of these columns was adorned with recreations of shoots and acanthus leaves, a style that would also be used by the Roman orders.

Periods of Ancient Greece

Greek architecture was developed over centuries and is divided into three historical periods:

  • Archaic Period: is the initial phase of Greek architecture and corresponds to the period between the 7th and 6th centuries BC
  • Classic Period: it was a time of great development in Greece, including arts and architecture and occurred between the 5th and 4th centuries BC
  • Hellenistic period: period of weakening and decay of Greece, was from the 4th century to the 1st century BC

Features of Greek architecture

Despite the different styles, Greek architecture has inherent characteristics in all its constructions, see some of them:

  • Presence of columns and porticoes.
  • Harmonious shapes and rigorous proportions.
  • Monumental (grandiose) works.
  • Buildings for public use (stadiums, temples, theaters, etc.).

Other buildings of Greek architecture

In addition to temples, the Greeks built stadiums, theaters, public squares and social spaces.

A curiosity about Greek buildings is that the precision and complexity of works for public use were not applied in the construction of their homes. The houses were built in a disorderly and chaotic way.

the theaters

Greek theaters were important places for social interaction and are similar to theater plays today. It is believed that the way in which the theaters were built, inspired the disposition of the existing theaters today.

the stadiums

The stadiums, a heritage left by the Greeks to our society, were places for the practice of sports. Some stadiums had the capacity for more than 30,000 people.

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