Greek Architecture

Architecture in ancient Greece was usually done with wood or mud-bricks, so their ground plans are the only evidence of their existence. Greeks established most of the most enduring themes, attitudes, and forms of western culture. Architecture is one of the Greek legacies that the western civilization has inherited, as Greece established many of the structural elements, decorative motifs, and building types still used in architecture today.

The two main styles of Greek architecture are doric and ionic. The doric style is much more disciplined and austere, whereas the ionic style is more relaxed and decorative. There was a strong emphasis in building temples for the Greek mythological gods and goddesses. But, there were also well known public buildings like the Parthenon.

Building materials used were limestone and some native stones. Highly expensive marble was used mainly for sculptural decoration found in grand buildings of the classical period. The roofs of their buildings were made up of timber beams covered with overlapping terracotta or occasionally marble tiles.

The structure of ancient Greek architecture consists of a basic cube or rectangle, flanked by colonnades, and a long sequence of columns. Building will have a pronao or a portico that open up to a large open court peristyle. Greeks used very little of the principles of the masonary arch, individual blocks bound together by mortar. The front end of the roof has flat triangular shaped structure, the pediment which is usually filled with scultural decoration.

Temples are the best known form of Greek architecture. The altar of the temple was usually found in the sacred fane, an enclosure, in front of the temple. The inner building of the temple, cella, served mainly as the storage room. The other common public builds of the Greek architecture are gymnasiums, the palaestra, and theatres.

In ancient Greece, architects were hardly treated as valuable master craftsmen, unlike today where the architects are closely associated with the work they produce. And moreover, architecture was not seen as an art form, as it is in modern times.