Ancient Greek architecture  

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The Acropolis of Athens (1846) by Leo von Klenze
The Acropolis of Athens (1846) by Leo von Klenze

"Athens is peerless among the existing monuments of the ancient civilised world. The ruins of Rome may be more gorgeous ; of Babylon, more mysterious ; of Persepolis, more romantic ; of the Egyptian Thebes, more vast; but in all that is interesting to thought and feeling - in memories and associations, deep, affecting, sublime, Athens transcends them all." --The Antiquities of Athens

 This page Ancient Greek architecture is part of the Ancient Greece series.   Photo: western face of the Parthenon
This page Ancient Greek architecture is part of the Ancient Greece series.
Photo: western face of the Parthenon

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The architecture of ancient Greece is the architecture produced by the Greek-speaking people (Hellenic people) whose culture flourished on the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese, the Aegean Islands, and in colonies in Anatolia and Italy for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD, with the earliest remaining architectural works dating from around 600 BC.

Ancient Greek architecture is best known from its temples, many of which are found throughout the region, mostly as ruins but many substantially intact. The second important type of building that survives all over the Hellenic world is the open-air theatre, with the earliest dating from around 525-480 BC. Other architectural forms that are still in evidence are the public square (agora) surrounded by storied colonnade (stoa), the public monument, the monumental tomb (mausoleum) and the stadium.

Ancient Greek architecture is distinguished by its highly formalised characteristics, both of structure and decoration. This is particularly so in the case of temples where each building appears to have been conceived as a sculptural entity within the landscape, most often raised on high ground so that the elegance of its proportions and the effects of light on its surfaces might be viewed from all angles. Nikolaus Pevsner refers to "the plastic shape of the [Greek] temple.....placed before us with a physical presence more intense, more alive than that of any later building".

The formal vocabulary of ancient Greek architecture, in particular the division of architectural style into three defined orders: the Doric Order, the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order, was to have profound effect on Western architecture of later periods. The architecture of ancient Rome grew out of that of Greece and maintained its influence in Italy unbroken until the present day. From the Renaissance, revivals of Classicism have kept alive not only the precise forms and ordered details of Greek architecture, but also its concept of architectural beauty based on balance and proportion. The successive styles of Neoclassical architecture and Greek Revival architecture followed and adapted Ancient Greek styles closely.

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