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history of roman architecture

Maison Carree; France, Nimes; approx. B.C.19

Nimes in Provence was a city of the Celts in the end of B.C.3c and called Nemausus in ancient time.In B.C.27, Nimes belongs to the Rome under the reign of Augustus.

In this period the urban civilization was established systematically by Augustus with the structures such as the city wall, city gate,Pont du Gard,the amphitheater and so on.

Meison Carree is one of those built in about B.C.20-19 by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Augustus" son-in-law.

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard, France, Nimes; late B.C.1c.(about B.C.20)

history of roman architecture

The aqueducts and bridges in Roman period exist in Rome, Merida, Segovia, Tarragon in Spain and Nimes in France.

Pont du Gard inNimes is one of the famous one which preserve original style of Augustus era. Now the bridge exists about 300m long, 49m above of the river.

The bottom arches, which spans are 15.75m to 21.5m, are about 155m long, 20m high.

On the top of the bottom arches is a 7m wide road which has expanded for the traffic of cars in 1743.

The middle arches are same spans of the bottom arches and the length is about 265m in total. The height of middle part is about 21m and width is 5m.

On the top of the 35 small arches, about 8.5m high 3m wide, support the waterway.

The big arch, the bottom arch and middle arch have 3 times or 4 times of the small arch in span and 6 times of the small arch in height.

There was only 17m fall from the headwaters toNimes and that meant the incline was 34cm per 1km.

Amphitheater of Nimes

history of roman architecture

Amphitheater of Nimes, France, Nimes; the late 1st or early 2nd century

The amphitheater of Nimes, still used for bullfights

The other existent amphitheaters (amphithetrum) in Roman period areColiseum in Rome, amphitheaters of Verona in Italy, amphitheaters of Arles in France etc.


Pantheon, Italy, Rome; 118-35 A.D

history of roman architecture

The interior is a perfect circle which diameter and height are exactly same, 43m.

The wall is 6.05m thick and on the lower level are seven niches with a pair of Corinthian columns.

The lower level and the second level are divided by the cornis in the ratio of a square root of 2 to 1.

Exterior walls are divided into two zones by the cornis but no correspondence with the height of the interior cornis. The hemispherical dome has the skylight oculus of 8.9m in diameter

The second level is the re-design in 1747 which consists of a row of blind windows alternating with square designs.

Now one span of the second level was restored to the original state as seen in the whitish part of above image that is six Corinthian columns with two niches.

You should notice that the design pattern of original second level is the same pattern of the lower level which is seen in the top image of this page.

The real columns and pilasters of lower level are repeated again on the upper walls as graphic images.

This kind of design technique, the repeat and the superimpose are frequently used in high Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque and of course in modern age.


history of roman architecture

The columns of the ground floor are the Doric, the first floor is Ionic, the second floor is Corinthian and the top of floor are Corinthian pilaster.

This composition influenced later age very much. You should notice that the composition is vertical, not horizontal. The vertical dimension is different from horizontal one nor is vartical space not homogeneous, so that the style of columns should be different.

But now, Space Age, it changes a little. You can find architectures which are homogeneous vertically, free from gravity on earth.


history of roman architecture

Gate of Hadorianus, Greece, Athenai; about A.D.130

SouthEast view. Hight; 13m, Depth; 2.3m.

The gate is located the border of old city andnew city of Athenai. Hadrianus(117-138 in reign) from Espania was devoted himself to Greek culture and madenew city of Athenai. The gate has clean proportion and the light and excellent upper part is on the strong Corinthian order columns and pilasters.Columns of upstairs are Corinthian order and between them there had been marble walls and statues.


history of roman architecture

Fortuna Virilis, Italy, Roma; B.C.1c

The temple stood by the Portus Tiberinus in Roman times. The temple was dedicated to the god Portumnus, protector of harbors and sea trade.

In 872, it was turned into a Christian church.

The small and elegant building stand on tall base and trabrtine columns has Ionic order.

The basic style of a temple was peripteros style in Greek times. In Roman times, the columns combined walls of the sacrid room to pilaster. Greek sculpturesque temples turned into Roman picturesque one as if the form tured into the frame, or, as if the signification turned into the sign.

Simmlar temple is Masion Carree (Nimes, France) which is little bigger and has Corinthian style.

The Architecture ofPompeii


The Forum of Pompeii seen through the Samnite portico with Mt. Vesuvius in the distance

The Roman forum was, like the Greek agora, the center of public life. Not just an open space between buildings, the forum was the locus of Senate and Imperial proclamations, the place where the augurs were read and the auspices pronounced, and a central area for ostentacious display of grief and gratitude. Unlike the agora, the forum gradually became non-commercial. Instituted in the early Republican era, by the time of Augustus no carts were allowed in the Roman Forum, necessitating the establishment of specialty marketplaces (like the Forum Boarium, or cattle market) separated from the forum for health reasons. The forum at Pompeii was typical in its plan: at far end of a long open square was a temple set upon a high podium, the processional axis of which formed the formal axis and focal point of the forum. Colonnades along the other three perimeters of the space established a visually unified setting and provided covered walkways between the buildings on both sides.

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