Amazing Ancient Greek Temples Facts You Should Know | Kidadl


Amazing Ancient Greek Temples Facts You Should Know

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The temples in ancient Greece are some of the finest specimens of architecture that has ever existed on the planet.

The architecture of these temples influenced the architects who built the impressive monuments in the Roman Empire and others during the Hellenistic age. These Greek temples have provided the foundation for building monuments and buildings in the western world starting from the Renaissance age to the modern world of the 21st century.

The remains of the ancient Greek buildings can be seen all over the Mediterranean region and in different museums around the globe. The style has influenced buildings such as the White House, the house of the American president, in Washington DC. The use of white marbles in the temples adds to the grandeur of their already marvelous structure. The role of the temples was less a house of worship and more the residing place of ancient gods and goddesses such as Athena, Zeus, and Apollo. The people in Greece both respected and feared the deities. Many cities in the Greek world were adorned with similar temples but each had its own deity. Public buildings were also constructed by skilled people using the style of Greek architecture who also used to build temples.

If you like this article and find it interesting, you should also check out ancient Greek clothing facts and ancient Greek culture facts.

What were Greek temples used for?

The Greek temple examples built by ancient Greeks were not like the churches we have now that are places of worship. The people believed that the deities lived in the monuments and a cult statue was erected inside these buildings.

In the ancient world of Greece, it was a custom among the public to leave gifts in the temples for the gods and goddesses. The people paid their homage to these deities and practiced rituals in open areas. You could enter some of these buildings only once or twice a year and even then, you had to be the priest of the temple. The main purpose of the temple was to keep the image of the deity. Often times the priest was not a religious or a scientific person but an ordinary member of the community belonging to the upper class of society.

The temples were meant to be shown to visitors and therefore, their location was often at the top of hills. Although the houses of the Greeks were ordinary, the temples were magnificent and eye-catching. The interior of each temple was designed in such a way that the people felt the deity’s presence. A temple complex often consisted of two or more temples along with other buildings.

The temples are in ruins in the modern world but their grandeur can be understood even today. These marble temples were brightly colored in red, yellow, blue, and gold but the colors have faded away over time.

The Parthenon in the ancient city of Athens is regarded by many as the most famous example of ancient Greek architecture. It is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, having a huge ivory and gold statue of the deity. It was erected on the Acropolis hill. 

Types Of Greek Temples

Greek temples can be classified into three types based on their style or order of architecture. These are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian types.

The names of the orders depend on the type of Greek columns used. Almost all of the columns consisted of grooves on the sides referred to as fluting. This added balance and depth to the columns. The names were given much later in Roman times. The three orders inspired buildings in all of western architecture.

Doric style is the simplest of all three. It is also the thickest column. This style does not have any decoration near the base, with only a simple capital above it. Doric columns have a tapered shape so that the base is wider than the top. This style emerged in continental Greece. Doric columns are the strongest among the three orders.

Ionic style has thinner columns than the Doric. The capital on the top had an ornate decoration with scrolls on either side. The emergence of the Ionic columns is attributed to the west coast along with Asia Minor. Having thinner columns, the Ionic style was used for smaller Ionic temples so that they had an elegant look.

The third and most richly decorated of all the styles is the Corinthian. The capital is decorated with leaves resembling the acanthus plant and with scrolls. This order was used more at a later age in Greece while the Romans made extensive copies of the Corinthian order. An interesting fact about the Corinthian style is that it did not get invented in Corinth city but was developed by an architect who hailed from Corinth named Callimachus.

Greek Temple Architecture 

Ancient Greeks reached the pinnacle of architecture and their mastery is difficult to attain for the architects of the 21st century. The Greek style of architecture can be seen in many buildings around the world.

The building of most temples in ancient times started after the end of the dark ages. In the seventh and fifth centuries BC, the classic form of Greek temples began to emerge. These temples had a basic plan behind their construction and the height was about 100 ft (30.5 m). Several Greek cities could be seen building similar types of temples.

The temples had a relatively simple design. The shape of the temples was rectangular and they had large columns to support them. The upper part of the columns had a decorative panel known as the frieze. It consisted of sculptures that most of the time told the tale of a significant event. A triangle located above the frieze included even more sculptures. This was known as the pediment. A smaller rectangular chamber was constructed inside the outer rectangle. This was called the cella or the interior room. The inner chamber housed the main deity of the temple.

The Parthenon is the most famous temple built by Greek architects that still exists and it was created as the residence of goddess Athena. It was constructed in the Doric style with 46 columns on the outer side, each of them being 6 ft (1.8 m) in diameter and 34 ft (10.4 m) tall.

Parthenon is the most famous Greek temple.

What were Ancient Greek temples made of?

The temple building, part of ancient Greek architecture, had a basic shape but still, it allowed the creativity of the architects to flourish. The buildings were either made of wood or of marble.

In the beginning, wood was used in ancient Greek architecture to construct the temples but these did not last for very long so white marble began to be used from the sixth century BC.

Whenever a big temple project was announced, it was an opportunity for all the cities to display their wealth and the craftsmanship of their architects. The construction of big temples was a huge task. A skilled architect looked after the project and employed a number of craftsmen and workers who worked under him.

The roofs of the temples had a slight sloping shape and were constructed with the help of terracotta and ceramic tiles. The main temple was built upon a base that had two or three steps so that it could be at a higher position than the surroundings.

The temple doors were built out of the wood of the cypress or elm tree. These often had decorations of bronze bosses and medallions. Sometimes, the gate was called the propylaea.

The Parian marble used for constructing Greek buildings was of the highest quality in the world. It was acquired from Naxos, Paros, and Mount Pentelicon.

A large statue of Zeus was placed inside a temple built around 400 BC. It occupied a place among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple got destroyed and the statue was stolen within 200 years of its creation.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ancient Greek temples facts, then why not take a look at ancient Greek food facts or ancient Greek art facts?

<p>With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature.&nbsp;</p>

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