3 Types of Greek Columns

by Eija Rissanen

The styles of many architectural columns were invented thousands of years ago in Greece. Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders are the three main column styles developed by the ancient Greeks. These column styles still are used in buildings today.

Doric Order

Doric columns at a building in Washington, DC

Doric is the simplest Greek column. The column is plain, and it has no base. Doric columns often had statues of gods or heroes on top of them.

Ionic Order

The base of Ionic columns

Ionic is taller than Doric, and its surface has carved lines from top to bottom. The base of an Ionic column looks like a stack of rings, and the capital on top of the column looks like a giant scroll.

Corinthian Order

The capital of Corinthian columns at the National Archive in Washington, DC

Corinthian, like Ionic, has carved lines from top to bottom on its surface and a base that looks like a stack of rings. The capital of Corinthian columns, however, has flowers and leaves below a small scroll, making Corinthian columns the most decorative of all the Greek column types.


A row of Doric columns

Doric is the shortest of the Greek columns. The height of a Doric column is five and half times its width. The height of an Ionic column is nine times the width of the column. The height of a Corinthian column is 10 times its width, making it the tallest of the Greek columns.


The Parthenon in Athens, Greece

The Parthenon in Athens, Greece, is the most famous building with Doric columns. The Temple of Athens on the Acropolis is the most famous Ionic building. The Temple of the Sybil in Rome is a good example of Corinthian columns.

About the Author

Eija Rissanen is a freelance journalist living in Hawaii. She has a journalism and environmental studies degree from Hawaii Pacific University. Her articles have been published in Kalamalama, the student newspaper of Hawaii Pacific University, and some other environmental and travel publications and Web sites in Europe and the United States.

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