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A small summary about Greek Architecture
Greece Architecture has influenced much of the architecture throughout the world: the development of the Renaissance of Italy and the British Greek revival. Many of the architectural masterpieces of the world were influenced by Greece architecture. All the visitors who travel to Greece and the Greek Islands are always impressed by the diversity of the architecture.
Periods of architecture:
The Minoan Civilization (1800-1300 BC)
The most important monuments of the site were: the palace, the wall-painted "cult-center", the Lion gate and "Grave Circle A" which contained the treasures.
Archaic and Classical Greek architecture
The most important period of architectural development in Greece is seen within the period of the construction of the first monumental marble temples from the Archaic and classical periods. Those temples are characterized by different orders.
The Corinthian architecture
It is the last order of the classical period. The columns of the Corinthians temples were characterized by a single or double row of leafy scrolls, usually acanthus. This order was mostly used by the Romans. One of the most interesting examples of the Corinthian architecture is the Roman temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. This temple was an enormous structure of 104 columns of 17 meters high.
The Minoans are a civilizations which prospered in the island of Crete. This period is the first known from an architecture point of view. The most famous achievement of this period of architecture of Greece is definitely the impressive Palace and Residential complex of Knossos. It is also the best preserved.
The palace is situated on a hill, surrounded by pine forests and with an easy access to the sea. According to the palace's remains and the lack of defensive walls in the architecture, the Minoans had peaceful relations with the other civilizations of the Aegean. Around the Palace are located many residential buildings like the "little palace", the "Royal Villa" and the "South House", forming the large city of Knossos.
According to the remains, the city must have had a population of about 100 000 inhabitants and the city was built giving a great importance to space. The Palace is divided in two courts: the west wing where you can visit the religious and official staterooms and the East Wing which was used for domestic and workshop purpose. According to history, the destruction of Knossos would be connected to the huge volcanic eruption of Santorini in 1450 BC. Many things can be seen today with an architecture importance: the palace of Knossos, the little palace, the Royal Villa, the house of the Frescoes, the caravanserai, the Temple tomb…
The Mycenaean (Achaean) civilization architecture (1300-1000 BC)
The Mycenaean architecture of Greece is completely different than the Minoan's. As the architecture of a city follows the need of the civilization, according to the remains, the Mycenaean civilization was turned to wars. They built compact citadels, orderly plan and fortified by huge walls. These walls took the name of "Cyclopean" for the reason that people thought that only Cyclopes could lift them. The Palace was destroyed and the only remains you're going to find are walls and tombs.
The Doric architecture
The greatest monument that was ever built in the Greek world is definitely the Parthenon of the sacred site of the Acropolis, in Athens. It is the most brilliant example of Doric architecture and has the reputation of the most perfectly angle calculated temple. The temple was built in 477-438 BC by Ictinus and Callicrates, with the collaboration of Phidias, under the rule of Pericles. The temple of Parthenon stands on the conventional three steps and has two cella rooms with hexastyle prostyle porches. Inside the temple, it had colonnades and a huge ivory and gold statue of the goddess Athena. Acdcording to the archaeologist, they temple's ceiling was made of wood and covered with painted decorations.
An other interesting example of the Doric architecture is the temple of Hera in Olympia. It is the earliest monumental temple of Greece and has 14 Doric columns.
The Ionic architecture
The Ionic order is much different of the austere Doric architecture style. It has an ornamented necking, a base in several tiers and has more flutes. The Ionic order is much more graceful than the heavy Doric architecture.
One of the best examples of this architecture is the Temple of Athena Nike at the Acropolis of Athens. It is the earliest Ionic temple built on the Acropolis. On other famous example is the Erechtheion, opposite the Parthenon. It is the temple were the famous Caryatids stands and support the heavy roof. Today, only 15 of these columns are still standing. The Greek classical order is also the period characterized by the construction of the many theatres: Theatre of Dionyssus, the theatres of Epidaurus, Dodoni, Megalopolis, Argos…
The Roman's architecture
The Romans were much inspired by the Greece architecture. The gave birth to many buildings, fountains, gymnasiums, baths… One of the best examples is the Roman Agora in Athens, at the bottom of the Acropolis. An other example is the theatre of Herodes Atticus and the famous Arch of Adrian which stands in the middle of Athens.
The Byzantine architecture
The Byzantine period explains the incredible amount of churches. The Byzantine churches have a unique architecture. The most important example of Byzantine architecture is the church of Aghia Sofia in Istanbul. In Athens, the most important Byzantine churches are the church of Kapnikarea, the church of Kaisariani and many others. The architects, under the Byzantine Empire, built many churches on Greek and Roman temple features. The most distinctive characteristic of the churches were the domed roof. The churches are cross planned with the combination of a basilica and a symmetrical central-plan.
The Neoclassical architecture
After the War of independence of 1821 and more especially during the monarchy, Athens was embellished by buildings in a Neoclassical Period. Some of the best examples of the neoclassical style are the National Library, the Athens University in Panepistimiou avenue, the majestic Parliament, and some Greece hotels (Grande Bretagne) and museums.
The neoclassical architecture of Greece can be describe by the simplicity of the geometrical forms with a great inspiration from the Hellenistic period (Doric and Roman order).