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Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Ground Up: Greek Architecture

Initially, there was a borrowing of Asian ideals which evoked structures that were both wholly and represented simplicity; moreover, the specific design spread from Sicily to India, making the Greeks cultural exporters.

The Gift of Geology

The Greeks were gifted, being situated in an area with the highest quality stone. Of course the buildings that were derived from these stones were free of bronzed sculptures, polished monuments, and shrines painted with vivid colors.

The simplicity and austerity is what sets these structures apart today, being worshiped as magnificent relics of history.

Over time, weathering has stripped away stone, allowing for the beauty of form to be unrivaled, still standing vividly among the superficial experience of modern building.

What we do know is that the artistic greatness and skill that outlined these massive feats can never be replicated, although many have tried.

The Colony of Carthage

Compliments of Livius.org

The Colony of Carthage is located in Tunisia and was founded by Phoenicians in 817 BCE. The colony competed against other Greek colonies, some of which became Carthaginian strongholds. It was later raised by the Romans in 2 BCE. The ruins are all that remain.


The Parthenon was constructed from 447 to 432 BE. The left proplylaea entrance to the acropolis was added by Mnesikles from 437 to 432 BCE. The Parthenon is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order.  

The Doric order was three orders or organizational systems of Ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.

Temple of Athena Nike

by Serendigity

The Temple of Athena Nike is located in front of the proplylaea, tiny in comparison to the Acropolis. Citizens worshiped the goddess in hope of a prosperous outcome in the war against the Spartans and their allies. 

The Temple of Athena Nike was an expression of Athens' ambition to be the leading Greek city state in the Peloponnese.

Temple of Apollo Delphi

The ruins, as well as the foundation , are located in Delphi. The altar was originally in front of the "restored columns". The Great God of Apollo, a deity who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth, was consulted within. 

His sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic (or stephanitic) games, precursors to the Modern Olympics.


Acrocorinth is by far the best example of Greek Military architecture. This structure was built when the demise of the Polis suggested that outer defenses were necessary. Connection to the city of Corinth, as well as long walls, were added in 4th century BCE.

Sanctuary of Pergamum

Pergamum was the main sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek god that healed the sick. People with health problems could bathe in the water of the sacred spring, and in the patients' dreams Asclepius would appear in a vision to tell them how to cure their illness.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The temple was started in 174 BCE and completed under Hadrian in 2nd century CE. This temple originally had 8 columns on the facade, three rows deep and 20 columns on each side.


Roberts, J. (2004). Ancient History: From the First Civilizations to the Renaissance. Oxford University Press.

1 Comment:

Magnus said...

Looks like I have more places to visit. This summer I was in Salona near Split in Croatia. Salona was "found" 100 years ago and the remains from the Roman times are interesting and impressive.

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