Their distinctive features may still be found on structures that have survived until the present day. The Greeks created three architectural styles known as orders, each with its own set of proportions and decoration. Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian are the Greek orders. The Doric design is quite robust, with a simple top (the capital). The Ionic has a more slender profile with slightly curved lines. And the Corinthian has an extremely delicate appearance from its flowing lines.
Other aspects of ancient Greek architecture include the use of marble, granite, and other stone materials, which were cut to fit together perfectly without any glue or nails. The Egyptians also used stone but in large blocks of stone that they fitted together with mortar and rods but the Greeks were able to create much smaller pieces that could be easily moved around the site before being put in place. Also, the Egyptians built for themselves only; the Greeks, however, had a strong tradition of building for others starting with their parents and then their teachers when they went to school. This is reflected in the many schools and gymnasiums that have been discovered with funds left by wealthy individuals who wanted their children to have better education than they had. These buildings were usually constructed using slave labor because slaves were cheap and easy to come by.
The Greeks also used bronze, iron, and even glass in their construction techniques. Iron was first used by the Phoenicians but it became popular among the Greeks.
The Greeks constructed the majority of their temples and administrative structures in three styles: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The sorts of columns they employed reflected these styles (also known as "orders"). The word "order" also can mean a line of dancers in a procession; in this case, it refers to a series of steps or patterns used in building architecture.
The Doric order was used most often for government buildings and other structures where a strong foundation was needed to support a heavy weight above. It is characterized by two columns placed end-to-end with flat tops and slightly tapering bases. The Ionic order had slightly fluted columns with an enlarged base and a thinner shaft than the Doric order. The Corinthian order had slender columns with abruptly flared capitals and bases. The style of column used in constructing a particular structure determined how much work would be required to dismantle it later. For example, if Doric columns were used, the job of taking them down would be easier because there were no pins to pull out.
On the ancient site of Phaistos in Greece, archaeologists have found what appears to be a late Doric temple built around 600 B.C. The sort of column used is similar to those on the Athenian Acropolis, but its design is quite different.
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 some Roman buildings.
During the Hellenistic period (323 B.C. to A.D. 133), many more variations on these basic designs appeared. There were various sizes of columns with different numbers of drums or rings; some had flutes instead of scrolls; some had a plain shaft with an elaborately carved head. But despite these differences, they all retained their essential character as Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian.
In modern terms, the Ancient Greeks were precursors of the Renaissance-era Italian architects who developed new styles after studying the works of the ancients. Although little original architecture from this time has survived, historians can still study documents written by ancient commentators who described and illustrated many of the buildings that have been excavated.
The Doric Order, the Ionic Order, and the Corinthian Order were the three principal "orders" or "templates" of ancient Greek architecture. These instructions established a wide set of guidelines for the design and construction of temples and other related structures. The architects who designed according to these orders produced some of the most impressive buildings in ancient Greece.
Doric order buildings have two parallel-sided columns on either side of the entrance. The Ionian order has one column on each side of the entrance with an intermediate column in between. The Corinthian order has no intercolumniating beams but instead has curved columns on either side of the entrance.
Each order had its advantages and disadvantages. For example, Doric order buildings are very strong but can be difficult to light well since there are no windows between the columns. Ionic order buildings are easier to light because there is more space between the columns but they are not as strong as Doric order buildings. Corinthian order buildings are considered to be the most beautiful but also the least practical because of their expensive materials requirements.
The formal vocabulary of ancient Greek architecture, particularly the classification of architectural style into three distinct orders: the Doric Order, the Ionic Order, and the Corinthian Order, was to have a significant impact on subsequent Western architecture. The Greeks were also among the first to apply the concepts of geometry and proportion to architecture.
Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and theater, was said to have invented the design principles that would come to be known as "Greece's contribution to architecture". According to one myth, he did this by demonstrating how different building materials needed for construction work differently under the influence of sunlight. He then went on to explain why stone is better than wood or bronze for buildings.
By applying these ideas to building design, the builders of Greece's temples found ways to make their structures more efficient while still providing comfortable places for worshipers to gather. This was important because, unlike today when we need houses only for shelter and food production for ourselves and our families, people in ancient Greece lived there too. They needed safe places where they could go to pray or talk with friends or just think about something other than daily life.
These places were called temples. And since Dionysus had shown the ancients how to use materials efficiently, they used little expensive stone instead of much cheaper bronze or wood.
The classical orders—described by the designations Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—serve as an indicator to the architectural and aesthetic evolution of Greek architecture itself, not just as identifiers for the ruins of ancient buildings. The origins of these names are obscure; some believe they date back to the Greeks' adoption of traditional styles from elsewhere (such as Egypt) or even that they were invented by later antiquarians.
Doric was the most popular order among ancient architects. It was used primarily for temples and other large structures where a high degree of symmetry was required. The Doric order is based on the five-foot slab of stone called a "timber," which forms the floor of the structure. The architect sets out each side of this base in successive horizontal layers, producing a strong, stable form. Other names for the Doric order include Dorick and Dorotean.
Ionic was the order used for smaller buildings such as houses. It too was based on the timber, but the arrangement of this base material was asymmetrical. Each layer of the timbers was cut to a different length, creating a pattern that was repeated throughout the structure. This order originated in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), and it can be recognized by its distinctively curved lines. Ionic buildings have been discovered across Greece, especially in Athens where many remain today.