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Greek Architecture

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Greek Architecture

The Greek culture has had a huge impact on the history of the world. There is something Greek in almost everything, especially in the world's architecture. Greece no longer had one king, so they focused on building temples for their gods. Architecture began small and plain but evolved into impressive pieces of art. As time passed from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period, the people of Greece developed a type of formula for their buildings and their pieces of art.

In Ancient Greece, religion dominated their life, so it is understandable that their architecture would be dominated by their religion. Before Greece became many different city-states, they had kings, and they would build a room called a megaron to show they King's authority. A typical megaron is a single chamber with a fire pit in the middle with a throne off to the side. This room opened up into a porch (portico) that had four columns in the front. After there were no more kings these megarons turned into temples. The fire pit, which turned into some type of altar or a place to show a sacrifice for that god, was now outside in front of the temple. The altar was now outside so people could see you make these sacrifices to their gods. The first Greek temples were made out of wood and were long rectangular buildings with a porch all the way around which was supported by columns made from tree trunks. A Greek temple consists of five basic parts: the pediment, entablature, columns, base, and the cella, or the inner sanctum. The pediment is triangular and would have a type of sculpture or ornament known as acreteria on each corner. An entablature consists of three parts: the cornice, frieze, and architrave, which holds up the pediment. The columns are the support between the entablature and the base. The base usually consists of three steps. The cella is the inner sanctum, which has different rooms with more columns for support. Each temple would have a cella but they were not identical.

The Greeks developed an architectural system called an order, to distinguish the different styles of temples. Each order has a different proportions, entablature, and columns. The three Greek orders are called Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The Doric order is considered to be the masculine order. The columns are short and stout and very plain. A Doric column has no base and the capital is plain. The height of the column would always be four and a half or five times the diameter of the column. They are also described as being entasis, meaning that about two thirds of the way up the column begins to taper in. The fluting of the columns was hallowed out semi-circles. The entablature of a Doric temple is also very plain. The cornice is plain, meaning there is no ornament on the cornice. The frieze is broken up into triglyphs and metopes. A triglyph are a series of sculpted vertical lines, and a metope is a plain area. The architrave is one full piece with no ornament.

An Ionic temple is considered to be feminine. The Ionic temple is very different to the Doric. An Ionic column is very sleek and slender. Just like the Doric column, the Ionic column is proportioned to its diameter. The height of an Ionic column is nine to ten times the diameter. The column has a base and the capital is more decorative with the use of scroll volutes. The fluting is very much like the Doric except there is a flat area in between every hallowed out semi-circle. The entablature of an Ionic temple has a lot more decoration. The cornice and the frieze with both have some sort of ornament or sculpture. The architrave is broken up into three or four pieces.

The Corinthian order is not used much in Ancient Greece. The Corinthian column is much like the Ionic but the capital is decorated with acanthus leaves. The Corinthian column is used mostly on the interior and becomes widely used in Ancient Rome.

A Greek temple can be classified in three ways: by the order, the number of columns, and the distribution of columns. The number of columns is always even because if there were an odd number of columns, then there would be a column on the axis of symmetry. They didn't want a column in the middle because than you would have to walk around the column to get into the temple. The most common temples would be called hexastyle because it would have six columns in the front. If there was four columns across then it would be called tetrastyle or eight across would be called octastyle. Another way to classify a temple is how the columns are distributed. When a temple only has a row of columns on the front and has end walls, it is called in antis. If the temple has a row of columns on the front with no end walls, it is called prostyle. If a temple has a front and back portico with columns, it is called amphiprostyle. The most famous Greek temples would be considered to be peripteral, meaning

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