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Roman Architecture

The word architecture refers to the art and science of conceptualizing and erecting buildings. The ancient Romans were masters of architecture, design, and erecting buildings. The skill of the Romans in erecting and constructing buildings, including the invention of concrete, led to the creation of different types and styles of Roman architecture in building fortresses, villas, temples, even entire city quarters, baths, large walls, and roads. Roman construction and architecture permanently changed the face of Europe.

Architecture of the Romans

An overview of Roman architecture, and of the construction, planning, and building of Roman architecture in antiquity had clear characteristics. These are reflected even today in the basilica, in baths, amphitheaters like the Colosseum, the Arc de Triomphe, old villas, temples, streets, forts and palisades, cities, and aqueducts. The fact that the Romans discovered concrete is a true journey of discovery that leads one through the Roman world of the famous pillars and arches.

A Colossus of Roman Architecture

The symbol of the power and wealth of the Roman Empire was the Colosseum, built in the center of Rome. In less than 10 years, the Romans erected this ancient construction that demonstrated the perfection of Roman architectural expertise. It was conceptualized and built by outstanding and famous engineers. The remarkable accomplishment of Roman architecture is a monument for one of the most famous Roman inventions: concrete. The Roman arches stand prominently around the building, and the pillars demonstrate the various styles of architecture: Tuscan pillars on the underside of the Colosseum, Ionic, and, finally, on the third level, Corinthian pillars.

Historical Information on Roman Architecture

The Roman time marked the shift of the Western world from a region populated by barbaric clans to the civilization of the global conqueror: the Roman Empire. The time of Roman architecture starts with the founding of the Republic in 509 BC. It stretches to the transfer of the capital of the empire from Rome to the Eastern Empire in Constantinople in 330 A.D. The history of Roman architecture is separated into two periods. During the first period, the period of the Republic, the origins of Roman architecture can be traced back to the Etruscans who carried on the Greek and Phoenician traditions. An example of this is the erection of large temples to honor their gods.

The second period of architecture began in 27 BC and is considered the period of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire stretched over thousands of miles from Europe to North Africa and the Middle East. The large number of countries conquered by the Romans in the course of time brought with them a rich cultural diversity that was reflected in Roman architecture. The result was an eclectic architectural style, a Roman architecture, that melted together numerous elements from the diverse regional styles and architectural traditions and made something new.

Ancient Roman Architecture - Instructions from the Roman Era

The era of Roman architecture in the shift from the Republic to the imperial period was a time of development in Roman architecture and creation of completely new constructions. For example, the old Romans are responsible for the so-called forums. These were squares framed by temples, stores, and basilica. Basilica were also first created during this time. Baths were a special challenge of typical Roman architecture. Markets such as the Trajan Market in Rome were created. This is a five-story building complex with stores, bars, and restaurants.

The architects in Rome became famous for the amphitheaters like the famous Colosseum and the Circus Maximus as well as for theaters. Triumphal arches celebrated the Roman victories. Villas, temples, streets, forts and palisades, cities, and aqueducts are evidence of Roman architecture.

All Roads Lead to Rome – Social and Cultural Change in Roman Architecture

The Roman Empire was expanding and Roman architecture increasingly changed. The splendor of Roman architecture reflected the social changes of people in Rome. After all, the Romans were the conquerors of half of the civilized world. The great stone and marble constructions of the Romans presented their civilization and their wealth, their dominance and power to all who lived in slavery. In order to rule the Roman Empire and show its power, it was necessary to be able to quickly access all regions and provinces. Roads were needed to be able to more quickly travel from one Roman region to the next. Over 82,000 km of roads were built in a star form around the capital to all provinces and regions. It is therefore no wonder that even today people say: “All roads lead to Rome.”

Theater for the People

The massive antique amphitheaters were built for the people. The old Roman games were a form of entertainment while they also displayed power and dominance. Men’s brutal blood sacrifices, for example when fighting against exotic creatures like crocodiles, leopards, elephants, lions, and tigers, were designed to show the Roman Empire’s prominent position of power. However, the changing needs of the people also demanded innovations in ancient Roman architecture. The Roman emperors needed the support of the people to stay in power, and this meant that large public construction projects were taken on. Games were held in the massive amphitheaters like the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus. Spectacular triumphal parades through the broad Roman streets and through the triumphal arches of the forums were a way for the regents to enthuse the people.

These usually culminated in worship of the gods in the splendorous temples. Public baths became popular in ancient Rome, not only for the rich, but for all people - of course with differences in terms of Roman architecture. Well-to-do Roman patricians wanted to demonstrate their wealth and had magnificent villas built. Here there was a true competition and innovation in Roman architecture. Cities were built in this time, or conceptualized and constructed, and for everyone there was a public bath – the focal point of Roman society and social life.

Construction Materials and Work in Roman Architecture

Which materials were easy for the Roman architects to access? At first, many buildings created by Roman architects were made of wood. Stone and marble were often too expensive. Many skills had to be acquired through the course of time in order to achieve the high standards of ancient Roman architecture. In order to be able to build large structures and cities, thousands of workers were needed. For the Romans that was no problem! After all, they had millions of slaves from the conquered areas. They took the best ideas and concepts from the buildings in these regions as models and also had the Roman army, which was responsible for building the giant network of old Roman roads. The wonderful and exemplary buildings of ancient Roman architecture were only made possible when the Romans invented concrete. Without this, buildings like the Pantheon or the arches and the Colosseum wouldn’t have been architecturally possible.