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Temple of Hera - Agrigento, Sicily (ca. 450 BC)

A Greek architrave: the stones running along the tops of the columns. This is the Temple of Hera – Agrigento, Sicily (ca. 450 BC)

Greek temples on platforms

Greek architects wanted to make the temples look more impressive. They started to build temples on top of small stone platforms with steps going up to them. That put the temples higher up, so they seemed bigger.

Archaic Greek temples
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What is a fluted column?

This picture is from the Doric temple of Hera, also at Agrigento in Sicily. The Greeks built this temple about 450 BC. Can you see how the columns have lines running up and down them? That is to imitate the lines left by the axes which took the bark off the tree trunks, when columns were still being made from tree trunks. We call the lines flutes.

More about fluted columns

Temple at Segesta

Temple at Segesta

What is an architrave?

The Greek architrave is the part of the temple that is right on top of the columns, under the roof.

Greek architects built the facades (fa-SAHDS – fronts) of Archaic Greek temples just like the old wood ones. The architects translated the old wood design into stone.

On this Doric temple from Segesta (also in Sicily, built around 430 BC) you can see the old tree-trunks that are now stone columns. And you can see the triangular roof (the pediment) which was once the wooden roof beams.

More about pediments
The Parthenon’s pediment

In between you can see sets of vertical lines with spaces between them. These are the triglyphs, and the spaces between them are called metopes. The triglyphs are copies in stone of the ends of the wooden roof beams from the old wooden temples.

More about triglyphs and metopes
Rhythm in Greek temples

Learn by doing: build a Greek temple out of Lego or in Minecraft
More about Archaic Greek Architecture

Bibliography and further reading about Greek architecture:

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