Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian are the three primary classical orders. The orders, which specify the shape and ornamentation of Greek and later Roman columns, are still commonly employed in architecture today. The Doric order is most commonly found in countries with an ancient Doric culture such as Greece and Italy. The Ionic order is used frequently in India and elsewhere in Asia. The Corinthian order was popular in ancient Corinth, where it can be seen on city walls and at various other sites within the city. It is also used widely in Latin America.
In addition to these three primary orders, there are several other orders used less often today but known from historical sources. These include the Carolean (a variation on the Ionic order named for King Charles IX of France), the Composite (a combination of Doric and Ionic elements), and the Paeonian (a variation on the Doric order named for King Paeonius of Paestum).
The principal features of the three classical orders are shown in the image below. You will notice that each order has a different number of feet: six, four, and eight, respectively. This is because the Doric column has an integral base and is thus always either six or eight feet high. The Ionic column has a fluted shaft and may thus be either six or four feet high.
Ancient Greek architecture grew into three separate orders during its early ascent in the Classical period: the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian. Each of these orders was distinguished by distinctive elements in its columns, which were used in formal, public structures like as stadiums and theaters. The Doric order was most common in southern Greece while the Ionic style was popular in Athens. The Corinthian order was developed in Corinth but is also found in other parts of Greece and on islands like Delos.
During the Hellenistic period, the influence of Rome began to appear in Greek architecture. The Romans adopted many features from the Greeks, including their appreciation for luxury items such as silver and gold. However, they also introduced some new styles that combined the elegance of the Greeks with the power of Rome. One of these styles was the Tuscan order, which has two distinct variations: the Italian and the French.
The Italians used cylindrical volutes at the end of each column instead of the more commonly seen scrolls. This order can be seen in buildings throughout Italy from about 300 B.C. to A.D. 100. The French employed a different type of volute called an urn shape. They also used larger proportions than the Italians did for each column, giving the structure of the building greater strength.
The Greek tradition continued under the Roman Empire when architects built large public buildings in the newly established cities.
In ancient Greek architecture, there are three different orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The Romans adopted these three and adjusted their capitals. In modern terminology, they would be called "geometric," "elevated geometric," and "imperial."
The Doric order had plain volutes without any indentations or projections. It was used for temples and other structures where a very simple appearance was needed.
Ions have indented volutes with a flat base. They were used for columns and other structures where a rich appearance was required.
Corinthians have folded volutes with two projections called acanthus leaves. They were used for monuments and other high-status buildings.
Imperial caps are like Corinthian but with more elaborate designs.
Geometric caps are like Corinthian but with simpler designs. They were used for ordinary buildings where simplicity was preferred over richness of design.
Elevated geometric caps are like Imperial but with lower bodies and more elaborate designs on top. They were used for temples and other large buildings where appearance mattered more than strength.
Ancient Greek architecture grew into three separate orders at the outset of what is now known as the Classical period: the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. Each order had its advantages and disadvantages, but none were exclusive to one another. Many buildings from this era have all three orders in equal measure.
The Doric order was used almost exclusively for temples and other religious building. It is named after the Doris (Δόρις), a city in ancient Greece where it was first used. The order is characterized by straight lines and right angles, with no curved elements. It was used primarily for its ease of construction. Because it required very few joints in the stone, there was very little need for adhesive measures such as mortar or concrete. A temple built using only wood and clay would probably not be considered Doric because it would not be strong enough for heavy loads nor would it be sufficiently rigid.
The Ionic order was used for decorative purposes only, although some early Doric temples may also be Ionic. It originated in Ionia, a region on the west coast of Asia Minor, and was therefore often used for buildings in coastal cities. It is characterized by smooth, flowing curves, which give it a more elegant appearance than the Doric order.
A number of novel structural solutions have distinguished the history of Western architecture. Greek architecture also codified numerous structural and ornamental components into three Classical orders—Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian—that have influenced architecture to varying degrees since that time. Roman architecture incorporated many innovations into existing building types, including the arch as a supporting structure (in place of trusses or beams) and the dome as a roof form. Medieval architecture developed during the European Middle Ages; it is characterized by large churches built in the Gothic style with intricate stone carvings and stained glass windows.
During the Renaissance, which began in Italy in the 14th century, major changes took place in architecture. The domineering presence of medieval castles gave way to smaller houses for the aristocracy and wealthy merchants. Architects such as Brunelleschi, Alberti, and Leonardo da Vinci proposed new ideas about proportion and design that would later influence European-style house plans. In England, Christopher Wren (1585-1662) designed a series of increasingly complex churches that served as models for similar buildings throughout Europe and America. Wren's work is regarded as the beginning of the English Baroque style of architecture.
The French Enlightenment brought about many cultural changes including an interest in reason and science instead of magic and religion.