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Greece architecture

The concept of “ancient art” first appeared in the XV century in Italy, when in combat with thousands of years of Church tradition of the middle ages argued new, is permeated with faith in the beauty and value of human culture of the Renaissance.
Its creators turned to the wonderful creations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. This great civilization of the ancient world they called the ancient (from the Latin word “antiquus” – “ancient”). Subsequently, the term “antique art” firmly entrenched in European culture.
Masterpieces, created by talented masters of the ancient world, for several centuries inspired poets, composers, playwrights and artists all over Europe, and today continues to give us artistic pleasure and to serve as a norm and unattainable model.
Artistic heritage of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome – architecture, sculpture, painting, decorative-applied and jeweller art is striking in its richness and diversity. In it a clearly expressed aesthetic views, moral ideals and tastes, typical of the ancient civilization that ended the long history of the ancient world. The creators of ancient culture were the ancient Greeks called themselves Hellenes and their country Hellas.

The ancient history of Greece and the early period of its culture until the second third of the last century were known only from legends. For knowledge of this period played a major role excavations conducted by Schliemann in 1870-1890, at Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns. Opened an art developed from the first half of the second Millennium BC in parallel with the art of the New Kingdom period in Egypt.

It is a striking art, whose works were found in Egypt (which testifies to the lively contacts of these areas with the environment) belongs to the Mycenaean culture. In the beginning of XX century A. Evans discovered in Knossos another, earlier than the Mycenaean, the culture of Crete. It is sometimes called “Minoan” (named after the legendary king Minos).
Culture of the Aegean world: Crete, the cities of Knossos, Phaistos, Triad; dozens of smaller Islands, Mycenae, Tiryns, the shores of the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor (Troy), the occurrence of which belongs to the third Millennium BC, reaching the second Millennium a high level. It establishes a historical connection between early Eastern cultures and antiquity, is the first Mature European civilization in ancient history.
The discovery of Aegean civilization – one of the most outstanding achievements of archeology of the late XIX – early XX century.
Even before the birth of Greek culture in the Eastern Mediterranean in the III-II millennia BC. there was its predecessor – the Aegean civilization, the most significant centres of which were legendary Troy, sung by the great Greek poet Homer in the Iliad, the island of Crete and “Zlatoverhy” city of Mycenae in the Peloponnese.

The emergence of Greek culture

The culture of the Greeks and later the Romans, occupies an important place in the history of the development of the whole European culture. This is the culture of antiquity of the Mature slave society that emerged on the European continent. Its Zenith in the form of a slave-owning Democracy (Athens under Pericles in the V century BC. C.) the society attains a gradual development of the forms of the primitive communal system.

The interest in the art of Greece and Rome originated during the Italian Renaissance, but only in the beginning of XVIII century started the first excavations in Herculaneum and Pompeii, hidden under the lava of the volcano Vesuvius.

In the second Millennium BC, Greek tribes gradually moved into the Aegean region from the North, and at the beginning of the first Millennium BC the tribes of the pastoralists and farmers deeper into the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula. So, the tribe of the Dorians Mycenaean captures the territory and brings with it a different way of life and, apparently, the knowledge of iron.

The Greeks-the Dorians, tribes which conquered Achaean cities took the religious-mythological representations of the Achaeans, many skills and traditions, but in General they stood on a lower stage of social development, it took over three centuries to the land of Ancient Hellas matured class society and have any slave-owning city-States.

Under the pressure of the Dorians local population retreats and inhabits the Islands of the Aegean sea and the coast of Asia Minor. In Greece there is a lot of city-States such as Athens or Sparta, competing among themselves.

The vastness of the territory, high mountains separating the coastal valleys, impeded the unification of the country in a single state. In VIII-VI centuries BC in these cities, situated on the Balkan Peninsula, the Aegean Islands and the coast of Asia Minor, emerging science, but the art was the sphere of interests of all Greeks, and therefore many creative achievements in this area quickly became the General property.

There was the main genres of fiction, the art of the theater are the prerequisites for a brilliant flowering of architecture and fine arts. The first temples and the first statues of stone appeared here in the VII century BC.

Greece of the archaic times

The early period of development of architecture (up to V century BC) has been called archaic. On the ruins of the Mycenaean cities destroyed by Doric tribes, conquerors, arose a new culture. In the bronze age temples have not yet been built. In place of palaces and castles came numerous temple structures. Beautiful statues of the Olympian gods erected a more magnificent and luxurious home than the old primitive idols. Secular construction receded into the background.

Greek architecture the beginning of the age of antiquity has preserved the form of the Megaron of the Mycenaean period. Megaron, the house of the ruler, became the sanctuary, but construction material remained the same – wood and clay. In the first half of the eighth century the Church appears, planning the basis of which was the Mycenaean Megaron. The temple was built of mud bricks and covered with wooden gable roof. In this period, formed a planning scheme, which formed the basis for subsequent Greek temples and architecture which are characterised by the environment of the main Church by a colonnade.

The order system

Secular buildings, also rectangular, were fragile and very humble, reed and clay. All the achievements of Greek architecture of the time; constructive and decorative, are associated with the construction of temples. Probably in the VIII century BC revealed two artistic directions in architecture: Doric and ionic.

Dorian was distinguished by its aspiration for monumentality, severity, “masculinity”, the perfect proportions. The Doric style was formed approximately in 600 BC and subsequently underwent only minor changes. An example is the Doric temple of Hera in Olympia.

Ionian style that was especially popular in the Greek city-States that emerged on the coast of Asia Minor, in the V century yet to be finalized. Masters of the Ionian destinations, sterilise to achieve ease, grace, picky lines. “Dorian” and “Ionian” was not a geographical concept: the Doric building can be seen on Ionian territory, and Vice versa. The earliest known example is the temple of the goddess Hera on the island of Samos. During the VII century the art of building quickly evolved into several distinctive styles.

Both styles (orders) from the very beginning differed from each other. Early ionic temples in Asia Minor had a more rich decoration and large dimensions than Doric temples. The flowering of artistic creativity in Greece accounts for the second half of V century BC


So typical of an architect of a Greek temple column, no doubt, has its origins in the Mycenaean wooden pole. Changing only the form of the support, when the tree is gradually being replaced by stone. The Mycenaean column was narrowed down, the Doric column is up. The Mycenaean column was stripped of all decorative elements, becoming slender and strict column of the Doric order. The Doric column has structural, tectonic, and not ukrashatelstva functions; in the earliest Greek sanctuaries of the archaic era columns were still of wood.

The plan of the temple consisted of the main part, divided into naves by rows of columns, and the front hall. Unlike the later early Greek temples had colonnades running around the perimeter of the building. Wealthy Greek city-state was able to pull off a genuine coup in temple architecture, clay-wood became stone. Appeared shortly before the wooden colonnade gradually replaced in stone.

However, in the II century BC at the temple of Hera in Olympia, the Greek author Pausanias saw a wooden column. In the history of the construction of three successively replacing one another of the temples of Hera in Olympia can be traced all the changes in the architectural styles of the Greeks: so, the oldest of these buildings the colonnade does not yet have.

The oldest Doric peristyle – buildings, surrounded on all sides by a colonnade, – was distinguished by a significant excess of the length over the width, i.e. the elongation in length. The temple of Apollo at Syracuse, relating to the oldest Doric temple buildings, has 17 columns at the side walls and only 6 from the facade.

Another feature of this style is the large value of the diameter of the columns, standing also close to each other that gave the impression of heavy monumentality and seriousness of the whole appearance of the building. Further development of the Doric style led to a change of these proportions in the first place of the ratio of the diameter of the column and its height.

In the archaic temple at Corinth (540 BC), the ratio of diameter to height is 1:4,0 b, in the Propylaea of the Athens of V century BC – 1:5,b, and in the sanctuary at Nemea (about 330 BC) is 1:6,5. The columns became thinner and thinner, that changed and the General appearance of the building. Do not remain the same and the ratio of length and width of the peristyle.
The front hall goes much further into the sanctuary than in the buildings of the Doric style and is divided into three naves by rows of columns, forming a veritable “forest of columns”. Rigorous, geometrically correct Doric capitals here corresponds to the ionic column, with scrolls – volutes, stone ornament in the form of palm leaves or Lotus, ridges, buttressed to the architrave – wide lower beam, resting directly on column capitals.

Noticeable differences exist in the forms of columns. Doric grows like a tree from the earth, directly from the stylobate is the platform on which she stands. The ionic column has a complex base. The deepening of the ionic column is thinner and richer than the Doric.

About ionic temples of the archaic age we know more of ancient literature: too many of them were destroyed. So, in the entire Greek world was famous for its sanctuary of Artemis at Ephesus, built by a Cretan khersifron] and his son Metagalaxy, and a few centuries later, in 356 BC, burned by Herostratus. From the hands of the Persians died, the temple of Hera on Samos, built the Systems and Theodore by order of the tyrant Polycrates. Only reconstruction allows us today to imagine the Milesian and Didymaion.

Small buildings of this style is better preserved; among them is light and elegant treasure of the residents of Sifnos, built of brilliant Parian marble in Delphi around 525 BC, multi-color, with caryatids on the ants – the projections of the longitudinal walls of the building, gradassi entrance.

Contemplating today the ruins of the Doric and Ionian sanctuaries, we forget that these buildings were covered with paintings characterized by rich polychrome. Ancient Greece was a marble, but not only sparkling white, as is sometimes thought. Masterpieces of ancient architecture shone with all colors of paint – red, blue, gold, green, is bathed in the bright shining sun of the South.

Classical Greece in the V century BC.

When war with the Persians ended with the victory of the Greeks, and to Athens, ascended on its allies, had the opportunity to dispose of enormous financial resources, when, at last, began to develop the marble deposits in Pentelikon in Attica, Greek architecture entered the period of the highest blossoming.

Although a major center of artistic creative activity, especially in the second half of the century, Athens, other areas of Greece have also been decorated with new magnificent buildings. Let us recall the temple of Zeus at Olympia in the northwestern part of the Peloponnese, the creation of outstanding architect of Libon of Elis, the most characteristic example of the so-called “austere” style that prevailed in the Doric lands in the first half of the V century BC, Many monuments can be found in Sicily and southern Italy: sanctuary of Zeus in Agrigento, hexastyle temple of Poseidon in the Pestle in Lucania.

The highest proportions reached monumental building in Athens under Pericles: for almost two decades were built the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the small temple of Athena Victorious; later also the Erechtheion.

Struck by the desire to combine the elements of ionic and Doric architecture. True harmony has been achieved for the builders of the Parthenon by Iktinos and Kallikrates. Columns of the temple have the same height as the columns of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, but to replace the heavy proportions of the “severe” style came slenderness, elegance. The influence of Ionian traditions affected the appearance of the frieze from the external side of the Western part of the building.

The connection of both styles sought and architect Mnesicles, Creator of the majestic gates leading to the Acropolis – the Propylaea (438-432 BC): ionic columns are found side by side with the Doric. On the contrary, in the architecture of the beautiful miniature temple of Athena-the Winner is dominated by the ionic characteristics, although built the same Callicrate that along with Iktinos glorified the city with a monumental Doric Parthenon. Also in the spirit of the Ionian tradition was built during the Peloponnesian war, the Erechtheion, situated very picturesquely, at different levels, with the famous caryatids on the South side of the building.

All these wonderful creations of the Athenian architects concentrated on the Acropolis. The streets remained narrow and crooked, the houses low, squat, modest. Only new, just built the port of Piraeus testified about the rapid development of all aspects of life, which was going through Athens. The same was discussed and another construction of secularism: when Pericles erected the Odeon, which hosted musical events.

About the decoration and improvement of his native city was concerned, however, the predecessor of Pericles, an aristocrat Kimon. On the market square, the Agora, he planted so loved by the Greeks with shady plane trees, and in the suburbs of Athens in a grove dedicated to the hero of the Academy, laid the gymnastic grounds, erected the colonnade that gave shade to watch the unbearable southern heat.

The most beautiful colonnade stood in the Agora – it was well-known to historians of art and philosophy Standing Poikile, “painted” portico, decorated with paintings of Poliglote and other masters. Paintings glorify the great deeds of the Athenians, starting with the legendary war against the Amazons and the historic battle of Marathon. Finally, another monument of the classical era were famous Long walls which connected Athens with Piraeus port.

Classical Greece in the IV century BC

The defeat in the Peloponnesian war and the economic crisis led to the inevitable decline of architecture in Athens. When in the V century BC. this city was distinguished in Greek by the rapid construction, in the next century the center of architecture shifted to Asia Minor. ‘ve already ridden cities of Asia minor to Athens again experienced a period of prosperity.

Actually in Greece and beyond was dominated by the Doric style, which had lost, however, their usual features. The proportions feel better, slimmer and decorative columns, due to the increasingly frequent use of Corinthian capitals that style in stone leaves acantha.

Corinthian columns can be found in the IV century BC the large marble sanctuary of Athena Aley in Tegea, built in 395 BC by the architect and sculptor Scopas, and in round homes – Tolosa – in Delphi and Epidaurus. And if in these monuments of Corinthian half-columns were located inside the building, in an elegant votive monument of Lysicrates in Athens (335-334 BC) they decorate it outside.

In Asia minor, the cities retained the Ionian style, in which did, in particular, a talented architect and architectural theorist PYTHEAS, created in 334 BC by order of Alexander the great in Priene temple of Athena. He was also the first in the history of architecture erected this monumental stone building, the Mausoleum – huge tomb of a Carian ruler Mausolus and his wife, Artemisia. This 24-step pyramid of a height of 49 m, surmounted by four horses harnessed to the Quadriga, ancient was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world, but it shows how far people of that era from the simplicity and restraint of the contemporaries of Pericles.

No less lush and giant had a different structure, considered one of the wonders of the world and also were in Asia Minor: the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, built on the site of the temple, burnt in 356, B., E. “the unforgettable” in the centuries Herostratus. The quest in Asia minor Greek architects to compete with the creators of the lush and majestic buildings of the ancient East – it is evidence of the approach of the new, the Hellenistic era.

When in the V century BC Greek architecture expresses itself especially in religious buildings, a century later they added the outstanding buildings of secular nature. By this time the first stone Greek theatres: the theatre of Dionysus on the Acropolis in Athens, completed circa 330 BC. C., the theatre at Syracuse and especially beautiful, striking harmony of the proportions of the theatre in Epidauros, masterpiece of polykleitos the Younger.

From other secular, practical purpose of the buildings we will mention a large indoor hall, where were held the meetings of the Arcadia Union of Greek policies – the so-called hall of the ten thousand, built by Epaminondas in novoosnovanog the capital of Arcadia and Megalopolis representing a rectangular building of unprecedented size; the model for the architect was the Odeon of Pericles in Athens. Practical purposes served also sciatica storage rigging in Piraeus near Athens and fortifications and docks in Syracuse, referring to the era of the tyrant Dionysius.

Construction technique of Ancient Greece

The main building material in the Greek architecture was the stone, in the early period of softer, more easily treatable. During the construction of the Athenian Acropolis in the VI century BC limestone was used. New Acropolis, built by Pericles, known for constructions of white Greek marble.

Made of stone was built first and foremost public building. Houses were most often built of mud brick, but has also been applied and annealed. The bricks used in the masonry walls, which, for example, in places of worship then were lined with stone slabs.

For the construction of the roof and ceiling used a tree. In the early period were made of wood and pillars of the temples, as evidenced by the temple of Hera in Olympia, where they eventually were replaced by stone.

Masonry built dry without mortar, reinforcement was carried out using spikes or wooden dowels. Stone building had to be stable during earthquakes and therefore stone blocks mated with metal staples.

The installation process of complex architectural elements was very time consuming. Only some of them, such as small caps and plates with sculptural relief, were made in advance. Finally the remaining parts are processed only after they are installed. This final processing was carried out in the downward direction as gradually removed scaffolding construction.

Greek architecture, is still impressing the nobility of his forms, from a constructive point of view was very simple. This system consisted of load-bearing (walls, columns) and carried pieces (lintels, beams, plates).

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