The Greeks thought of their Gods as having the same needs as human beings, they believed that the Gods needed somewhere to live on Earth. Temples were built as the gods' earthly homes. The basic design of temples developed from the royal halls of the Maycenaean Age. A Mycenaean palace consisted of a number of buildings often more than one story high, grouped around a central courtyard. It was brightly painted, both inside and out. In each palace there was a large hall called a megaron, where the king held court and conducted state business. Little remains of the megaron at Mycenae. This reconstruction is based on the remains from other palaces, which would have been similar.
The Romans took and borrowed a lot of things from the Greek culture. For example, the took the Greek Gods and renamed them. They also took the styles of Greek temples, but they changed them some. The temple was rectangular, with a gabled roof, with a frontal staircase giving access to its high platform. They used mainly the Corinthian style, but they also made combinations, for instance the Corinthian-Ionic style. The Romans also added a lot of details and decorations to their temples. The Romans also made what became the very common round, domed temple. The main temple of a Roman city was the capitolium. The Pantheon, the famous temple in Rome, was a sample for some of the modern day cathedrals and churches.
The Classical Period Temples became much larger and more elaborate. Parthenon, one of the most famous structures ever, was created during that period. The Greeks held many religious festivals in honour of their gods. The purpose of festivals was to please the gods and convince them to grant the people's wishes. Such as making the crops grow or bringing victory in war. In addition to religious events athletic competitions and theatrical performances took place at festivals too..
The early Greek architecture, from about 3000 BC to 700 BC, used mainly the post and lintel, or post and beam, system. Their main building material was marble. Classic Greek architecture is made up of three different orders that are most seen in their temples: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. All three had the same components, but had different types of details. The orders are known mostly by their column style. The Corinthian order was not as widely used as Doric and Ionic. It was fancier than the others, and had a lot more detail. The Greeks only used one order on one building, they never mixed. The basic temple followed these same rules. It was very simple with a rectangular inner chamber and a roof with shallow gables. The temple stood on a platform with three steps leaving rows of columns, sometimes double rows, that helped support the roof.
The column which was used as either a part of the structure or as an dornament, is the basic element in the Greek architecture. The oldest, dating back to about 600 B.C. is the Doric. Perhaps the most basic temples were of the Doric order. Doric architecture was known for being used by the Spartans. Normally, standing right on the floor, the shaft is made of a series of drums which are rounded, doweled together, tapered upward and fluted, usually twenty times. On top of the shaft sits a two part capital carved in a single block. The bottom is the cushion or echinus and the top is a flat square slab called the abacus. There is a natural ring where the capital and shaft meet and this is emphasized by the addition of several carved rings. The column height is four to six and on half times the diameter at the base of the shaft. The oldest Doric columns to survive intact, seven of them, are from the temple of Apollo at Corinth. Each shaft, over twenty feet high, is cut from a solid limestone block which was surfaced with a stucco made of marble dust. While the columns seem simple and stumpy, the sharp ridged fluting is evidence of a high degree of the mastery of stone carving. Further they are bellied slightly at the centre which keeps them from seeming too dumpy. The vertical columns supported beans called architraves. To form a ceiling, other beans were laid across the building with their ends on the architraves. The ends of these beams would be channelled to make triglyphs. On top of this, another beam would be placed for the overhanging rafters. These beams are referred to as mutules. The roofs were finished with flat gables called pediments. A gutter ran along the tops of the pediments, ending at a lion's mouth, which acted as a drain. Thatch, and then tera-cotta and marble, was used to cover the roofs. What is not evident today as a result of the action of wind, rain, and man made destruction, is that these temple were generally brightly painted in white, gold, red and blues. These temples were similar to ionic ones in their layout.
The Ionic column is distinguished by its volute or scroll capital. Ionic columns were slenderer than Doric. They were eight or nine diameters high, instead of four to five. Normally the Ionic column has twenty-four flutes which are separated by fillets or soft edges, some examples have as many as forty-eight flutes. The columns had a molded base under them and sculpted figures on the lover part of the shaft. The shafts had channels in them, like folds in a matron's harment. At the top of the shaft. The shafts had channels in them. At the top of the shaft there were rectangular blocks of stone, carved into the shape of flowing hair or other wavy shapes and lines. The cornice was decorated with great detail. Although there were differences in the construction of temples, they were mostly all used for the same activities.
When talking about Greek temples, there are some things one must keep in mind. First, that Greek religion is not like that of the Christian. The Greeks thought their gods were of the same nature as man, except smarter and stronger. Second, that the temple was the house of the god they worshipped, so it had to be finer than that of man. Third, that congregations of people did not meet in the temples to worship, as if it were a church. And last, that all gods demanded they be satisfied by sacrifice, and so sacrifices were made at the temples. For this there was a great altar outside the east porch of every temple. Some temples only had a porch for the altar and a hall leading to it, while others were much complicated.
The Parthenon is one temple that is very famous and beautiful, but also very basic in its construction. Built between 447 and 438 BC, it was the first building to be constructed on the widely know Acropolis. The Parthenon is called octostyle peripteral because it has eight columns in the front and the back of it and is surrounded by a colonnade or peristyle. Inside, it is constructed as most temples were. The central chamber, or cella, faced east, with a wood figure of Athene covered in gold and ivory in it. There was a pornaos, or porch, at the east end and a opisthodomus, or porch, at the west end. At the back of the temple is a chamber called the Parthenon, or chamber of the Virgin, which was used as a treasury and held the sacrifices. This layout was very common among temples of that period.
One rather famous temple that was very complicated, was The Great Palace of Knossos, also known as just Knossos. It began a town with buildings in blocks around a square, or court, and grew into an extremely large palace. The process of becoming a palace was that of the gradual condensation of all the buildings under one roof, except for the court. Even the streets were covered, making them into corridors. The layout of Knossos had long, narrow chambers on the west side, with the shrines and ceremonial rooms on that side of the court. The luxurious living spaces were at the southeast side of the court and the service rooms and some small industries were aligned with them in the northeast side. This was truly a great palace.
As we have seen there were different styles and different layouts of Greek temples, but they were used for the same thing. Also, we have seen that the Greeks made amazing buildings, that were carefully planned and skillfully created. Perhaps the architects of that day were the true geniuses of Greek culture, not the philosophers.
Roman Temples were very similar to those of the Greeks. The architecture of the Roman Empire, spanning the period from 4th century to B.C. 5 century A.D. They were built in the sacred area called temenos and were surrounded by a colonnaded walk way. There was a porch in front of the entrance where an alter was placed and sacrifices were offered. Leading up to the alter, there was a great staircase flanked with walls on both sides. Like the Greeks there were columns surrounding the temple yet these columns were usually attached to the outer walls of the temple instead of the interior being open.
Inside the temple there was a single room called the cella, decorated with coloured marbles. Alcoves had been cut into the walls where statues could be placed. In some cases, a statue of the god that the temple was dedicated to was placed on a raised platform at the end of the cella.
In contrast to the linear emphasis of Greek architecture, Roman architecture is noted for its development of the rounded form. The Romans' mastery of concrete, used in combination with bricks, freed the orders from rounded forms as the arch, vault, and dome. Arches and vaults were first employed in utilitarian structures, for example, bridges and aqueducts. Later they were used, together with the dome, in private and public buildings as a means of extending and diversifying the interior space.
Roman building types include the basilica, an oblong meeting hall with vaulted roof, often colonnaded, the thermae or bath houses with their complex spatial layout, and the triumphal arch, a purely ornamental structure. Rome has the richest collection of public building, especially the Pantheon, built between 27 BC and A.D. 124, with its enormous concrete dome. It was originally built by Marcus Agrippa but was later rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian. The name "Pantheon" means all gods for this building was dedicated to seven different dieties. The temple stands at on end of a large colonnaded courtyard and has a normal portico (porch) in the front. Inside, the cella is round with a diameter of 140 ft. the floor is laid with coloured marble and statues of all seven gods line the walls. There are two specials places of honour for Venus and Mars, the protecting dieties of Agripa's family. At the top of the dome is a circular opening called an oculus which provides the only light.
Other Roman buildings are the Colosseum A.D. 70-80, numerous temples, and thermae such as those of Caracall, about A.D. 215 onwards. The ruins of Pompeii at the foot of Mount Vesuvius provide the most complete view of a Roman city, which was typically planned as a series of interlinked public spaces. Dwellings tend to look inwards towards an open atrium (inner court) and peristyle (colonnade surrounding the court).
Other important monuments outside Rome include the amphitheatre in Verona, about A.D. 290, and Hadrian's villa at Tivoli, about A.D. 118-134. The Hadrian's villa shows examples of axial symmetry, its use of curved as well as rectilinear interior spaces, and its numerous vistas. Other monuments in the Roman Empire are the beautifully preserved temple known as the Maison Carree in Nimes, France, 16 BC; the aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, near Nimes, about 14 BC; the Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia, 300 BC.
Greek temples, with their simple style, had three different, refined architectural styles which were best illustrated in the Parthenon. Rome then took that style and expanded it for their own temples, adding details, arches and domes. They then used those techniques to make churches later in their history, many of which have survived to today. In fact, those styles are still used.
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