The architects used sophisticated geometry and visual tricks to present the buildings as simple and harmonious. The ancient Greeks are justly popular for their splendid Doric and Ionic temples, and the quintessential example is, without a doubt, the Parthenon of Athens.
The Greek architecture has provided some of the most beautiful and distinctive buildings of antiquity, and some of their buildings, such as temples, theaters, and stadiums, have been fundamental elements of cities and towns since ancient times.
The Architectural Orders
There are five orders of classical architecture: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite, all of which were designated as such in Roman times. The Greek architects created the first three, strongly influencing the last two, which were made of composite materials instead of genuine innovations. An order is actually a combination of a certain column style with or without a base and a frame. The previous use of wooden pillars eventually became a doric stone column. This was a vertically corrugated column axle thinner in its upper part, without base and a simple capital under a square abacus. These orders became the basic grammar of Western architecture and it is difficult to walk in a modern city and not see examples in one way or another.
At first, however, the wood was not only used for basic architectural elements such as columns, but also for the buildings themselves. The temples at the beginning of the VIIIth century. They were built and had thatched roofs. From the late 7th century BCE Especially temples developed to slower stone houses.
The chosen stone was limestone, protected by a layer of marble plaster, or even better, pure marble. The carved stone was often polished with suede to resist water and achieve a glossy finish.
Many temples also carried architectural sculptures arranged to tell a story. The gables, friezes, and metopes carried sculptures, often in round or high relief and always richly decorated, tell the stories of Greek mythology or in particular episodes of the history of this city.
The temples also indicate that the Greek architects were fully aware of the problems of creating stable foundations for large buildings. The correct drainage of the water and the use of continuous foundations on foundations on different layers of fillings allowed to erect large Greek buildings in the best places, independently of the land, and to resist the rigors of the climate and the earthquake during centuries. Absolute stability was in fact essential because even a slight settlement or collapse in any part of the building would render the optical refinements discussed above useless.
Another striking Greek contribution to world culture was the amphitheater. The oldest archaeological testimony of theaters dates back to the late 6th century BC. C., but we can assume that the Greeks met much earlier in certain public places. In fact, the Bronze Age Minoan sites, such as Phaistos, had large staggered dishes that are believed to have been used for shows such as religious processions and bull jumping. Then, from the end of the sixth century. From C. we have a structure that resembles a rectangular theater of Thorikos in Attica, at one end of which was dedicated a Dionysus temple. This suggests that it was used during the Zionist festivals, which often featured dramas.
Another sustainable Greek architectural contribution to world culture was the stadium. The stadiums were named after the elimination of their original standing race – the state or the season. Originally built near natural ramparts, the stadiums have been converted into more refined structures with rows of stone or even marble staircases for seats whose separations were designed to facilitate access. The pipes ran around the track to drain off excess rain, and in the Hellenistic period, the arched corridors formed a dramatic entrance for athletes and judges. Famous examples are those of Nemea and Olympia.
Considering the rather modest structures, there were spring houses in which people could easily collect water and, as the black-figured ceramic scenes suggest, might make contacts. In terms of private homes, these were generally built with mud bricks, had compact soils and were not built with a particular design. Houses with one or two floors were the norm. Later, from the 5th century, BC Was built better stone houses whose outer walls were mostly plastered and painted with frescoes. In addition, there was often no particular effort in planning the city, which generally led to a labyrinth of chaotic and narrow streets, even in cities as big as Athens. The colonies in Magna Graecia, as we saw it in Selinus, were an exception and often had more regular street plans, which certainly favored the construction of a city from the ground up.
We can say that ancient Greek architecture has not only provided many of the basic characteristics of modern Western architecture but has also given the world truly magnificent buildings and admiration. Many of these buildings, the Parthenon, the caryatid portico of the Erechtheion, the volume of an Ionian capital for only three, have become the iconic symbols of ancient Greece.