Classical architecture


Classical architecture is the set of building styles and techniques of Classical Greece, as used in ancient Greece, the Hellenistic period, and the Roman empire. In architectural history, Classical architecture also includes later and modern styles derived from Greek sources, while archaeological usage is more strictly limited to the Classical period.

Archaeological use

Classical architecture can be divided into:

* Greek architecture before Alexander the Great
* Hellenistic architecture
* Roman architecture

Only Greek architecture in the time before Alexander (who died in 324 BC) carries an authentic, ethnic designation. The ancient Greeks were notoriously dismissive of barbaroi – those who spoke Greek non-natively or not at all. The incredible conquests of Alexander and the subsequent application of a veneer of Greek city states to a base of Egyptian, Semitic, and even Iranian populations produced an important change. Though speaking Greek remained the touchstone of whether one was a member of civilized culture or not, the ethnic diversification of the Hellenistic world is clear. The formal elements of classical Greek architecture were applied to temples for gods never worshipped in Greece.

The Romans can be seen as the latest Hellenistic empire. Pre-imperial architecture is more or less Etruscan with some Greek elements. By the time the Romans conquered mainland Greece in the 2nd century BC they were importing Greek craftsmen to build major public buildings. The term Roman Art and Roman Architecture has no ethnic meaning relating to Italic Romans. Most art historians assume that it has the ethnic meaning of "Greek-speaking slave" or "Greek-speaking free laborer," in fact.

Architectural use

Most of the styles originating in post-renaissance Europe can be described as classical architecture. This broad use of the term is employed by Sir John Summerson in The Classical Language of Architecture.

The "elements" of classical architecture have been applied in radically different architectural contexts than those for which they were developed. The classical orders – Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian – have meaning in the stylistic history of 5th century BC Greece, shifting to the developments in 1st century AD Gaul, with the styles revived over and over again since then.

So what defindes Classical Architecture?

Classical architecture is a term used to refer to buildings from the classical period of European history, spanning the rise of Greece into a major cultural power and ending with the collapse of the Roman empire. Many architects are influenced by the styles and themes of classical architecture, and they revived these themes in the architectural style known as neoclassical architecture. Many public buildings and important institutions use neoclassical architecture in their designs to allude to the greatness of the classical era.

Historians tend to divide classical architecture into three periods, with a great deal of overlap between these periods. The first is Greek architecture, spanning the period from around 700BCE to 400CE. Following this period came Hellenistic architecture, architecture characteristic of the Hellenistic period which lasted from the time of the death of Alexander the Great to the collapse of the Roman empire. Finally, Roman architecture from around the same time period drew heavily upon the styles of these two eras, but innovations were introduced, making the architecture uniquely Roman.

Some well known examples of classical architecture include the Parthenon in Athens and the Coliseum in Rome. One of the more distinctive themes of classical architecture is the simple, yet beautiful style with clean lines and subtle accents in the form of metal decorations or carvings. Classical architecture was also often built on a grand scale, with imposing columns and large arches to demonstrate the skills of the builders.

Archaeological digs often uncover examples of classical architecture which are painstakingly preserved for future generations to enjoy. In some cases, architecture has been well preserved enough for people to see mosaics, wall paintings, and other decorative features used in classical architecture, making the citizens of the classical age seem more accessible and human. Classical architecture also provides important clues to the daily lives of the people who used these buildings, from formal temples to outdoor theaters.

Because classical architecture is often formal and imposing, many public buildings have adopted it to add to their general air of officiousness. Neoclassical design influences can also be seen in large country homes, colonnaded walkways at universities, and in other structures of a grand scale. Some very excellent examples of classical architecture can be seen in situ in many parts of the Mediterranean and in parts of Europe which were colonized by the Romans, such as Britain. Many people enjoy visiting these architectural sites because classical science, arts, literature, philosophy, and culture has had a huge influence on the Western world.


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    Regards, Andres