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Ancient Greek Architecture

The beautiful and ornate carvings and pillars speak volumes of the ancient Greek architecture. Religion was an important aspect of life in ancient Greece, which is evident from the magnificent Greek temples

Ancient Greek Architecture

The common materials of Greek architecture were wood, unbaked bricks, limestone and marble, terracotta and metals, which were especially used for decorative details. The architects of the Archaic and Classical periods in Greek history used these raw materials to construct five basic types of buildings which are: religious, domestic, civic, recreational and funerary. There existed three major architectural systems (orders) in Greek architecture. The three orders are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Every architectural order has a distinctive style with characteristic detailing. It is said that the Greeks believes that the Doric and Ionic styles or orders were descended from the Doric and Ionic Greeks of Dark Ages, whereas the Corinthian style was supposed to be later modification of the Ionic order. Here is more about each of these ancient Greek architectural styles:

Ancient Greek Architecture: The Doric Style

The Doric style is formal, austere and rather sturdy and its top is plain. The Doric style was used in mainland Greece from where it also spread it several colonies in southern Italy and Sicily.

Examples of Doric Style in Ancient Greek Architecture
The most prominent examples of the Doric style architecture are the Parthenon and the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. The Parthenon which is the temple of the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena Parthenosis located on the Acropolis in Athens and was built in the 5th century BC.

Ancient Greek Architecture: The Ionic Style

The Ionic style or the architectural style of the Ionic order is more delicate, intricate and more elegant. It is much more relaxed and decorative than the Doric order architecture. The Ionic style was found in eastern Greece, in the cities of Ionia and some of the Aegean islands. It is believed that the Ionic order architecture became dominant in the Hellenistic period, since it suited the aesthetics of the Hellenistic period. It is also said that several Greek States strongly opposed the evolution of the Ionic order since they thought it represented the dominance of Athens.

Examples of the Ionic Style in Ancient Greek Architecture
The Erechtheum, the temple of Apollo, and the small temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis are prominent examples of Ionic architecture. The Erechtheum temple was built on the Acropolis of Athens between 421 and 405BC. On the other hand the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, was built in 300 BC, which had a dipteral design.

Ancient Greek Architecture: The Corinthian Style

The Corinthian style is supposed be a modification of the Ionic style. Although it is seldom seen in Greek architecture marked by elaborate and intricate carvings of leaves and flowers.

Examples of the Corinthian Style in Ancient Greek Architecture
The oldest known example of the Corinthian style of architecture is the temple of Apollo at Bassae built in around 420 B.C. One of the most prominent examples of the Corinthian style of ancient Greek architecture is the choragic monument of Lysicrates. Other example of the Corinthian style includes the temple of Zeus at Athens.

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