What Are Solomonic Columns?


Solomonic columns, with their distinctive spiraling shafts, stand as a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of ancient and Baroque architecture. These columns, which trace their origins back to the fabled Temple of Solomon, have adorned the towers of religious and secular buildings for centuries, each telling a story of artistic evolution and symbolic significance. This blog post delves into the fascinating world of Solomonic columns, exploring their history, characteristics, and role in architectural design.

The Historical Origins of Solomonic Columns

Solomonic columns, often associated with the grandeur of Baroque architecture, have a history that predates this period by millennia. The name derives from King Solomon, the biblical figure who built the First Temple in Jerusalem.

According to historical and biblical accounts, this temple featured columns with a twisted or spiraled design, later known as Solomonic columns.

Biblical References: The earliest mention of twisted columns can be found in the Bible, describing the two columns named Jachin and Boaz that stood at the entrance of Solomon’s Temple. These descriptions have inspired generations of architects and artists.

Renaissance Revival: The Renaissance period witnessed a renewed interest in classical and biblical architecture, leading to the re-emergence of Solomonic columns in church and palace designs. Artists and architects studied ancient texts, translating their interpretations into stone and marble.

Baroque Flourish: During the Baroque period, Solomonic columns reached their zenith in popularity and artistic expression. Architects of this era embraced these columns’ dynamic and dramatic potential, using them to convey movement and tension within their structures.

White Solomonic culumn

Characteristics of Solomonic Columns

Solomonic columns are easily identifiable by their spiraling shafts, which set them apart from the classical orders of architecture. These columns can vary in complexity and design, featuring different types of spirals, decorations, and capitals.

Spiraling Shaft: The defining feature of a Solomonic column is its spiraled shaft, creating a sense of motion and fluidity. This dynamism contrasts sharply with the static nature of traditional columns.

Decorative Elements: Often, Solomonic columns are adorned with intricate carvings, including leaves, vines, and other natural motifs. These decorations enhance the column’s visual complexity and symbolic depth.

Capitals: The capitals of Solomonic columns can adhere to classical orders or feature unique designs. They often include elaborate carvings that complement the column’s decorative scheme.

Material and Color: While ancient Solomonic columns were carved from stone or marble, later examples also utilized wood and stucco, allowing for greater detail and flexibility in design. The choice of material often influenced the column’s color and texture, adding another layer of aesthetic appeal.

The Symbolism of Solomonic Columns

Bernini's baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica

Beyond their architectural function, Solomonic columns carry deep symbolic meanings rooted in their biblical origins and cultural interpretations.

  • Divine Connection: The association with Solomon’s Temple imbues these columns with a sense of divine wisdom and authority, making them popular for religious buildings.
  • Heavenly Ascent: The spiraling design is often interpreted as a visual metaphor for the soul’s journey toward heaven, embodying spiritual ascent and transformation.
  • Unity of Opposites: The intertwining spirals can symbolize the unity of opposites—earth and heaven, material and spiritual—highlighting the columns’ role as a bridge between different realms.

Solomonic Columns in Architectural Design

Solomonic columns in architectural design span centuries, showcasing their enduring appeal across various periods and styles. These columns, characterized by their distinctive spiraling shafts, have not only graced the interiors and exteriors of grand basilicas in Europe but have also found their place in a myriad of other structures around the world.

Their versatility and symbolic richness make them favored in religious and secular architecture, embodying artistic beauty, spiritual depth, and historical significance.

In Religious Architecture

Solomonic columns are particularly prevalent in religious architecture, serving aesthetic and symbolic purposes. Their spiral form, evoking the ascent to the divine, makes them ideal for buildings dedicated to spiritual worship and contemplation.

Cathedrals and Churches

Many cathedrals and churches across Europe and beyond incorporate Solomonic columns to frame their altars, line their naves, or support their domes. These columns are often strategically placed to draw the eye upward, enhancing the verticality of the space and directing attention toward the heavens.

In St. Peter’s Basilica, for example, Bernini’s use of four monumental Solomonic columns beneath the baldachin over the papal altar marks this sacred site. It symbolizes the church’s connection to its historical and spiritual roots.

Monasteries and Chapels

Beyond grand cathedrals, Solomonic columns find their way into the more intimate settings of monasteries and chapels. Their ornate spirals can be seen supporting cloisters, framing small altars, or enhancing the entryways, adding layers of meaning and beauty to these contemplative spaces.

In Secular Architecture

While predominantly associated with religious structures, Solomonic columns have also significantly contributed to secular architecture. Their application in non-religious buildings demonstrates their aesthetic flexibility and the broad appeal of their dynamic form.

Palaces and Castles

Solomonic columns add a touch of majesty and sophistication to the grand residences of royalty and nobility. They are often used in staterooms, grand hallways, and exterior facades, symbolizing power and prestige. Their elaborate designs and spiraling forms complement the luxury of these settings, enhancing the overall architectural composition.

Public Buildings and Civic Spaces

Government buildings, cultural institutions, and public spaces sometimes incorporate Solomonic columns into their design to evoke a sense of grandeur and historical continuity. Whether flanking a museum’s entrance, adorning a city hall’s facade, or serving as a focal point in a public square, these columns link the present with the past, bridging contemporary society with its cultural heritage.

Gardens and Outdoor Spaces

In landscape architecture, Solomonic columns create dramatic vistas and serene retreats within gardens and parks. They may appear as standalone sculptures, part of a gazebo, or as elements of a garden folly, adding an element of classical beauty to the natural environment. Their intricate details and spiraling forms invite contemplation and admiration, blending art and nature in harmonious compositions.

Modern Interpretations

Today, architects and designers continue to draw inspiration from Solomonic columns, integrating them into contemporary buildings and interiors. These modern interpretations play with scale, material, and context, reimagining the ancient form for the 21st century.

Public Art and Sculpture: Solomonic columns are reinterpreted as sculptural elements in public art, symbolizing cultural heritage and continuity.

Interior Design: In interior design, Solomonic columns appear in furniture and decorative pieces, adding a touch of classical elegance to modern spaces.


With their rich history and a distinctive form, Solomonic columns continue to captivate the imagination of architects, artists, and admirers alike. From their ancient origins to their Baroque perfection and contemporary reinterpretations, these columns embody a timeless appeal that transcends styles and periods.

They remind us of the power of architecture to inspire, connect, and elevate, bridging the gap between the earthly and the divine, the past and the present. As we appreciate the beauty and complexity of Solomonic columns, we also celebrate the enduring human desire to create and innovate, a testament to our shared cultural heritage.

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