What are the Three Types of Greek Columns?

Greek column is an architectural style developed by the ancient Greek. This style is a significant part of the Greek orders, which mainly refers to Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. As a part of architectural order, columns have distinct features that make them individually unique. 

The three types of columns originated in Greece, which was a vital part of the structures in the ancient Greek civilization. It all started roughly in 500 BC during the Classical era of architecture. During this period, the Classical order of architecture is the primary basis of ancient architects. 

These styles made a significant impact on various structures throughout history. Until today, the neoclassical style of Greek columns continues to be an influence on different structures all over the globe. 

These columns are commonly present in porches of a house, mansion, banks, memorials, schools, and many other buildings that have a classical style. Different architectural orders would best suit different structures, such as the Corinthian column would work best in high-class mansions and temples because of its sophisticated design. The Doric column looks beautiful in porches, entrance facades, and the like. Ionic columns are often used in high structures because of its tall characteristics.

In this article, we will look into each Greek column type, what parts does a column have, and what are their attributes.

Parts of a Column

Parts of a Column

The Greek architectural orders have different elements, including the entablature, frieze, cornice, column, etc. These elements are what make up the entirety of a Greek order. The main distinguishing factor of an architectural order is the column because it is the most visible element.

A column has three parts – mainly the base, shaft, and capital. Each of these parts plays an essential role in keeping the column stable, durable, and unique. Starting from the bottom of the column, we have the base, which supports the shaft of the column. The shaft is the body of the column, which usually is surrounded by flutes. Then we have the capital at the top; this is probably the most distinct part of the column to distinguish the difference from each other. Each column has a different feature, which we will elaborate further in the article.

Now we know the parts of a column, let’s look into each of the three types of Greek columns.

Doric Column

Doric Column

The Doric column is the simplest and oldest style of Greek columns. It originated in the western Doric region in Greece and was present in some structures as early as 700 BC. 

This type of column is known for its simplicity, mainly because of its simple circular capital. Its shaft is the shortest among the three columns, and a bit wider. Similar to other columns, it also has flutes surrounding it, usually twenty flutes. One other factor that separates this column from the rest is it doesn’t have a base.

Ionic Column

Ionic Column

The Ionic column originated in 600 BC in Ionia – an ancient region on the coast of Anatolia. This Greek column shows some similarities with other columns, as well as differences.

Unlike Doric columns, Ionic columns have a base to support the shaft. Then the shaft features a thinner and taller body with twenty-four flutes. Like any other Ancient architectural order, the main distinguishing factor of the Ionic column is the capital. Its capital has two opposing volutes or scrolls, which is more fancy compared to the simple circular capital of Doric columns.

Corinthian Column

Corinthian Column

Corinthian columns are probably the most sophisticated among three columns. It originated in Corinth, a city-state in Greece, and was present in ancient structures as early as 450 BC. Among the three columns, the Corinthian column is the last one that was developed.

Its looks are somehow similar to the Ionic column when it comes to the base and the shaft. The Corinthian column has a base to support the shaft. Its shaft is the tallest among the three and could stand up to ten diameters high, and has twenty-four flutes surrounding it. Lastly, we have the capital. As described earlier, the Corinthian column is the most complex among the three columns, simply because it has a more elaborated capital, which shows sculpted acanthus leaves and scrolls. 

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