700-200BCE|The Greek City-State

As a source of classicism in Western culture, ancient Greek took a special place in all. Classical architecture includes both a system of proportional composition and a decoration repertoire such as columns, entablatures and pediments. The polis which is the name of the Greek city forms this new style of architecture. The polis also produced a democratic process of rule which requires public debates. So, the need of a spaces that include dialogue creates the buildings of classical Athens. Such as the stoa, the senate house, and the hillside theater.

The Greek city-states positioned during the 6th century BCE at the western edge of the Southwest Asia. Because of their position, they developed a unique form of government. Also, rather than great palaces and tombs like the once I Egypt, Assyria and Persia, Greek architects prefer to build up open public spaces with a few colonnaded buildings for meetings. The Greek mainland and the islands that surround the mainland included like 700 city-states and those city-states even though they weren’t linked to each other, they shared the Greek language and religious beliefs with each other.

 Athens which was the most powerful city in the Aegean formed the most effective models of Greek architecture and urbanism. About the Acropolis, in the Greek thinking it means head of the city which was appropriate as a home for gods rather than the citizens. Agora, which is another important case in Greek, used as the prime public space of the Greek polis. Unlike the other cultures designs on temples and palaces -open spaces in front of them- the Greek agora sat as a void in the middle of the city. Agora sloped gently to the direction of the Acropolis. The organization of the Athens’ major streets crossed the Agora and also those streets had variety of activity such as market functions, religious ceremonies, athletic events and theatrical performances.



 On the southern slope of the Acropolis a stone theater was built up before its construction Agora was used as a theatrical area.

Increasing of the complexity of Athenian government, new functional buildings type was occurred. Administration buildings, Prytaneion (city hall), Skias (dining hall for the senate) – a cylindrical tholos structure-, Strategeion (chamber for debating military policies, Bouleuterion (theater-like structure)

Greek city-states had their own organization. The agora, the classical temple and the Greek theater indicated crucial urban ingredients for colonists that found new. Also, they added a normative grid to those essential parts. This grid system appeared in seventh century. In colonies, Greeks without any differences built their houses according to this grid idea. The houses -which were named as oikos- were one or two stories. They were also the smallest element of the grid system.

The Greek temple is one of the significant and one of the few architectural types that have universal recognition. There was a formula about the temples which could be vary according to city to city. I will write the exact words that Ingersoll used:

An oblong peripteral structure, girded on all sides by a screen of stone columns, ringed by a thick, horizontal entablature that sustains triangular pediments in the gables at each end.

Because the Greek temple has different relations with landscape and its dazzling colonnaded exterior it was different from other religious buildings.

The columns of the Greek temples have different types which are: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. The Doric order is carrying simple rounded capitals. Ionic order is thinner and there are some volutes on its capital. Those two orders generally used in the entrance of the temples. They are differentiating with each other in terms of their proportions and intercolumniation.  The Corinthian orders generally appeared in the inside of the temples. It has a carved capital with rows of acanthus leaves.



And lastly, the Greek architects found out some visual corrections of the temples’ perspective which is called as refinements. With the help of those corrections the temple seen as perfect appearance in any direction.  


An Example of Greek Temple


Richard Ingersoll-Spiro Kostof, World Architecture: A Cross-Cultural History, p.117-128




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