Roman Architecture: History, Types, Key Elements & More
While looking at an ancient Roman site, have you ever wondered who built this and how? From huge arches to megalithic domes, there are so many things in this specific style of architecture that surprises not only people but also researchers and scientists even today!
Many people get confused between Greek Architecture & Roman Architecture. Is there actually a difference, or are both the same?
Yes, there is a difference!
Roman architecture generally refers to the various structures in Rome which were built during the Roman Empire. This was started around 509 BC and continued until around the 4th Century AD.
These buildings in Rome have many unique architectural elements and materials. They all were designed and constructed in a way that, even after centuries, they’re still standing, and some of them are still in use.
Do you want to know more about architecture Rome? Keep on reading!
Today in this blog, we’re going to tell you everything about Roman Architecture. We’ve covered everything from its long back history, types, and key characteristics. In the end, we’ve also gathered up the top 10 Roman Buildings. So keep reading till the end and learn everything about this unique architectural style!
- History of Ancient Rome Architecture
- Key Characteristics of Roman Architecture
- Types of Roman Buildings
- Top 10 Spectacular Roman Architecture of the year
History of Ancient Rome Architecture
Roman Architecture was heavily inspired by Greek architecture and Etruscans. Romans had borrowed many architectural techniques, including the arches, the use of hydraulics, and the construction of arches. Most of the architecture in ancient Rome was based on the older classical orders from the Greek period.
There are also many variations in ancient Roman Architecture like:
- Corinthian Roman architecture
- Doric Roman architecture
- Ionic Roman architecture
Key Characteristics of Roman Architecture
Like every architectural style, Roman architecture also has some key elements from which you can immediately spot Ancient Roman architecture. Here are they:
Initially, Roman also followed the Greek order of columns in many of their structures. The order was: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Later they come with their unique style of columns like Tuscan and Composite. These columns were used to give support to the structure and also used as decorative elements.
Arches are one of the basic and important elements of architecture in ancient Rome; that’s why these were widely used in many structures. Romans usually used arches in all possible constructions but mainly in Aqueducts, Baths, Basilicas, and Triumphal arches.
A vault is an arch-shaped roof that is commonly used for structures in Rome architecture. Some of the common vaults include tunnel vaults, groin vaults, and multi groin vaults.
Dome is actually a half-cut sphere located on the top part of a structure. They were used with vaults. For example, Semicircular vaults were used to cover larger distances. Domes provide a function to the space and also add an aesthetic factor.
Types of Roman Buildings
The Romans built various types of structures and designs throughout Rome. Some of them were inspired by the Greek architecture that was actually adapted for Romans. And some of them are new innovations and techniques used by Romans.
Here are some of the different types of Roman Buildings:
- Bridges and Aqueducts
- Roman Baths
- Amphitheaters and Theaters
- Triumphal Arches
Top 10 Spectacular Roman Architecture of the year
Take a look at the list of some of the best Roman Architecture:
10. Arch of Septimius Severus, Rome
- Building Type: Monumental Arch
- Location of building: Rome, Italy
- Date of Construction: 203 AD
- Architect: Unknown (c. 2nd century AD)
Let’s start our list with this amazing architecture called the ‘Arch of Septimius Severus.’ Constructed in 203 AD, this structure was built in recognition of the Roman victories over the Parthians.
As compared to other contemporary structures in Rome, this was a remarkable triumphal monument. In the last few centuries, it got some heavy damage, but still today, it stands and represents the great architecture in Rome.
The above picture is a painting of the Arch of Septimius Severus painted by an Italian painter.
9. Temples of Baalbek, Baalbek
- Location: Baalbek
- Built-in: Late 2nd or Early 3rd Century
- Built by/for: Antoninus Pius
- Type of Structure: Roman Temple
One of the major attraction sites in Rome in present-day is the Temples of Baalbek. This is also one of the largest, most prestigious, and most well-preserved Roman temples, and that’s why it is famously known as the most impressive wonders of the ancient world. It was constructed in the ancient Roman period, which is about the first century before Christ.
And in the next 200 years, Romans built three more temples dedicated to the gods Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus, respectively. The Temple of Jupiter was the largest temple with 54 huge granite columns, and each one was around 70 feet (21 meters) tall. Pretty amazing, right?
8. Library of Celsus, Ephesus
- Building Type: Library
- Location of building: Ephesus, Turkey
- Date of Construction: 114 AD
- Architect: Vitrouya (c. 2nd century AD)
You may have seen many types of libraries, but this is something different!
Originally this structure was built as a tomb for the former proconsul of Asia, Celsus. This was ordered to be built by his son, Gaius Julius Aquila. Located in modern-day Turkey’s former Roman Empire territory, this library is huge and full of surprises!
The Library of Celsus was the third largest of all the Roman Empire’s libraries, as it consisted of more than 12,000 various scrolls.
7. Pont du Gard, Nimes
- Building Type: Aqueduct
- Location of building: Nîmes, France
- Date of Construction: 40 – 60 AD
- Architect: Unknown (c. 1st century AD)
Today, Pont du Gard (which means the Gard Bridge) is one of the last aqueducts that are still in existence!
Constructed during the Roman Empire (between 40 and 60 AD), this bridge is now situated in modern-day southern France. This is a three-story bridge that is considered one of the marvels of Roman architecture.
Measured around 360 meters at its highest point, this building was built out of massive stones that had been cut into precise blocks. However, the most surprising thing is that these blocks were attached without using any mortar.
This three-story marvel of Roman architecture measured around 360 meters at its highest point.
6. Aqueduct of Segovia,Spain
- Location: Province of Segovia, Castile and Leon, Spain
- Built-in: Mid-first Century BC
- Built by/for: Vitruvius
- Type of Structure: Roman Aqueduct
Located on the Iberian Peninsula, the Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best-conserved buildings in ancient Rome. Built-in 50 AD, it was actually designed to promote the water flow from the Frio to Segovia District. Spread around 16 kilometers, the entire structure was made from approximately 24,000 giant granite blocks.
Just like the above structure, this was also constructed by Roman engineers without any mortar!
5. Maison Carree, Nimes
- Building Type: Roman Temple
- Location of building: Nîmes, France
- Date of Construction: C. 16 – 20 BCE
- Architect: Marcus Vipanius Agrippa (63 BC – 12 BC)
This extraordinary Roman architecture was ordered to be constructed by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. He wants to give a tribute to his ons, who had both died at a young age. Today this temple can be found in the former Roman territory of Nîmes in France.
According to archeological experts, this temple is one of the most well-preserved temples among all the temples that the Roman Empire has built. Even today, this structure is a huge inspiration for many architects and designers. You can notice the influence of the Maison Carrée in buildings such as the Virginia State Capitol Building and the St. Marcellinus Church.
There is a deep porch in this temple, which acts as an important architectural feature that helps differentiate between Greek and Roman architecture.
4. Diocletian’s Palace, Croatia
- Building Type: Palace
- Location of building: Split, Croatia
- Date of Construction: 293 AD
- Architect: Diocletian (243 – 311 BC)
This structure is a palace that was ordered to be built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This palace was his private residential space. He was the first-ever Roman Emperor to voluntarily step down from public duty because of his bad health.
The palace was constructed when Rome was transitioning from the classical era to the middle ages. That’s why you can see many different architectural styles in this structure.
Over the years, this structure became so popular that it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Even today, the Diocletian Palace is one of Croatia’s most visited archeological attractions.
3. Roman Amphitheater, Nimes
- Location: Rome
- Built-in: 53 BC
- Built by/for: Ancient Romans
- Type of Structure: Ancient Roman Theatre
Everyone knows about this famous amphitheater built in the city of Nimes (known by the name of Nemausus). This structure has many remarkable features like spacious rooms, a surrounding wall, a splendid theatre, and over 200 hectares of territory.
Did you know that this had about 24,000 seats?
Yes, also known as the Arena of Nimes is essentially one of the biggest and largest Gaulish amphitheaters!
2. Pantheon, Rome
- Building Type: Temple
- Location of building: Rome, Italy
- Date of Construction: 118 – 125 AD
- Architect: Emperor Hadrian (76 – 138 AD)
Other contemporary Roman temples in Rome were mostly dedicated to particular Roman deities, but the Pantheon was a temple that was dedicated to all the Roman gods.
Pantheon has the largest unsupported concrete dome in the world!
Apart from this, the structure also has wonderfully preserved the Pantheon’s circular portico and rotunda, which shows the excellent skills of Roman engineers.
After 500 years of its construction, it was used as a Catholic church Santa Maria Rotonda.” Now this roman architecture is under Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage management, and it is open to the public. You’ll be surprised to know that more than six million visits this place every year!
1. Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy
- Building Type: Amphitheatre
- Location of building: Rome, Italy
- Date of Construction: 70 – 80 AD
- Architect: Emperor Vespasian (9 AD – 79 AD)
The Roman Colosseum was one of the largest amphitheaters of its time!
With an area of 620 by 523 feet (189 by 159 meters), this structure was also the most popular ancient Roman monument till today!
The construction began during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD, and later, it was completed by his son Titus in 80 AD. It is made from volcanic rock, face-brick concrete, and travertine limestone.
This huge amphitheater has a seating capacity of over 50,000!
Not only this, people can enter this space from 80 different entrances. It is said that the opening ceremony of this amphitheater lasted for about 100 days. Romans used this Colosseum for various events and functions such as mythologically based dramas, contests for gladiators, battle reenactments, etc.
The Bottom Line
So this is all about Roman Architecture.
I hope you find this blog about Roman Architecture informative and helpful. If you like reading about the architecture in Rome, don’t forget to share this blog with your family and friends or anyone curious to know about the latest or ancient architecture in the world.