The Ancient Greeks are known for their intricate and timeless designs. These breathtaking masterpieces are an example of excellent craftsmanship. The harmonious designs and proportions of these famous greek buildings continue to influence the infrastructure of our present-day society. However, their beauty has been subdued due to natural or manmade disasters over the years. Of all the ancient architectural styles, Greek architecture has proved to be one of the most enduring in terms of its relevance.
Let’s explore some of the most famous Greek Building in the world:
1. The Temple of Hera II
The temple of Hera II was erected around 450 BC in the south of Naples along the coast of the Mediterranean sea in the colony of Posidonia. The structure represents a transition of greek architectural style from archaic to classical.
As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to the Greek Goddess Hera. She was the goddess of women and marriage. It is also dedicated to her husband Zeus. The temple has clearly lost its roof which was supposed to be made of wood. It has also lost the stone walls of its inner chamber.
One of the most apparent archaic features is its wide columns and large strong entices. Moreover, the capitals in the upper and lower end of the columns are a lot bulkier and cushiony, unlike the later classical designs.
2. The Theatre of Epidaurus
The Theatre of Epidaurus is designed by the sculptor Polyclitos the younger. It is an open-air theatre constructed on the slope of a hill. The structure was constructed toward the end of the 4th Century BC.
The purpose of such theatres was to hold music, singing, drama, and game competitions or performances in honor of the God of Healing. Thus it wasn’t just for entertainment but also as a means of healing people. The Greeks believed that entertainment could have a positive effect on the mental health of people.
The theatre can accommodate 13000-14000 people in the audience. Just like modern theatres, a greek theatre also has excellent acoustics that has been made possible through genius engineering.
The most important part that is missing in this structure is the “skene” or the two-story backdrop of the center stage. Only the framework of this structure remains. In the 19th century, the theatre began to host ancient dramas again and continues to do so today.
3. The Choragic Monument of Lysicarates
The Choragic Monument of Lysicarates was constructed in 334BC. Lysicarates was a rich noble Greek who had sponsored the winning entry into a contest for the Greek God Dionysus. The contest was for those people who could sing the best hymn for Dionysus.
To commemorate the win he constructed the monument. The cylindrical structure is made of Pentelic marble. However, it has suffered heavy erosion and lost much of its fine intricate details.
Researchers believe that a bronze tripod that was gifted to the winner would usually sit on top of such monuments. The floral ornament on top resembles a Corinthian order upon which the tripod would be set.
Between the columns that run on the outer edge of the structure, one can see several carvings. These carvings are of the tripod and also a scene from mythology showing terranean pirates being turned into dolphins by Dionysus.
4. The Hephaisteion
The temple of Hephaestus is one of the best preserved greek temples located in Athens. The temple was built in 415BC and took about 30 years to complete.
Even though the structure is quite small, its location near a steep river bank and the tall narrow columns give it an inexplicable grandeur. The temple is jointly dedicated to Hephaestus, the God of the forge and to Athena, the Goddess of art. Archeologists are of the opinion that the temple would contain richly decorated sculptures of the two deities.
The building was later made into a church in 700 AD. Later in the 19th century, it was used as a burial ground for Europeans who died in the Greek war of independence.
5. The Parthenon
The Parthenon is one of the most important structures in the Acropolis of Athens. The acropolis served as the citadel of Athens and hence had many important buildings.
The temple is built on a platform of three steps and its roof is held up by tall Doric columns. These columns are connected at the top by decorative lintels.
Parthenon was essentially a temple dedicated to the goddess of arts and crafts Athena. Almost all temples in Athens are jointly dedicated to Athena and one of many Greek Gods and Goddesses. It is believed that a grand statue of Athena made of gold and ivory was supposed to be set at the far end of the temple.
The Erechtheion is better known as the Temple of Athena Polias located in the northern Acropolis of Athens. As the name suggests the temple is a shrine for one of the most important Gods of Greece, Athena. Athena is the Goddess of arts and crafts.
The temple featured a beautiful and gigantic statue of the deity and was built around 406 BC. Its name Erechtheion comes from the Greek Hero Erichthonius who was once the ruler of Athens. Historians are of the opinion that Erechtheion’s grave is located on the same ground.
The structure is an example of the classical ionic greek architectural style. The temple is different from most classical greek structures due to its asymmetric shape and highly intricate columns.
7. Temple of Artemis
The temple of Artemis is believed to be one of the first, if not the very first Doric style temple in Greece made out of stone. The temple is built on a small island off the northwest coast of Greece.
Today very little of this beautiful 580BC temple stands erect while most of it is in ruins. The temple is dedicated to Artemis the goddess of the hunt and childbirth and is the biggest temple of its time. The base of the temple measures 77ft in width and 161ft in length.
Excavators have found interesting carvings of Achilles and Memnon in the temple ruins. The temple resembled a portico and the front and back sides of the roof were beautifully carved. These pediments are identical and highly decorative. Today, only one of these pediments is in one piece while the other one is shattered.
8. Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus or simply the Herodeon was a beautiful greek theatre built in 161 AD. The structure is made of stone and has been constructed on the steep slopes of the Acropolis situated in Athens.
The theatre was so large that it had a three-story front wall made of stone. It also had a wooden roof made of exquisite cedar wood that was destroyed in 267 AD. Herodes Atticus was an Imperial magistrate and an architectural consultant. He built the theatre in memory of his late wife Aspasia.
This theatre has a much smaller capacity than the Epidaurus theatre. It has a capacity of 5000 spectators. In the 1950s the seating area was refurbished with Pentelic marble, a staple material for famous greek buildings. Since then the theater has been used for various artistic performances and even exhibitions.
9. Temple of Zeus, Cyrene
Cyrene is located in present-day Libya and was one of the five Greek colonies in the past. The temple of Zeus is larger than the Parthenon and both feature the same doric-style columns. A clear Egyptian influence is seen in the beautiful stonework. The structure was erected around 5 century BC.
The temple was repaired after the Jewish Revolt of 115 AD. After this, the temple had many Roman architectural designs visible mostly on its high podium.
Unfortunately due to an earthquake in 365 AD, the beautiful temple was left in ruins. However, it has been roughly restored by archeologists to reveal its basic structure without making many changes to the original material.
10. Temple Of Apollo
The temple of Apollo is one of the oldest greek buildings dating back to the 4th century BC. It is dedicated to Apollo, the God of everything under the sun, including the sun and light.
The temple is located on Mount Parnassos in Central Greece on an elevated piece of land, highlighting its importance. While this sanctuary for Apollo has been destroyed multiple times, some of the limestone columns with doric orders still stand tall.
11. Doric Temple of Segesta
As the name suggests this temple was built in the Doric style in the 5th century BC. It is situated in Sicily in a city named Segesta which consisted of Elymian and Greek populations.
Several theories reveal that the temple is actually incomplete. First, researchers never found any remnants of a roof for this structure. Second, the doric columns also seem unfinished in some ways. Finally, the temple does not have any decorations or a statue of a deity which further suggests that the temple was not completed.
The Parthenon was reduced to rubble due to an explosion, while successive earthquakes have destroyed the mausoleum at Halicarnassus – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Even though today most of these magnificent buildings are in ruins they continue to attract us with their unmatched beauty and rich history to this day.
Continue Exploring Artsapien: