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Ancient Roman Architecture

Learn about ancient Roman architecture throughout the Roman Empire


The Roman Empire spread via the famous Roman roads and bridges beyond the narrow limits of the Mediterranean shores during the years of the Roman emperors, from Augustus to Trajan and then became consolidated and protected inhabitants against the so-called barbarians from beyond their borders. Such protection included walls that you can still see today. Victories were commemorated with triumphal arches and columns. For comfort in the new Roman centers, they built facilities like baths to emulate life at home.

Here are articles on and photos of ancient Roman architecture throughout the Roman Empire.

Architectural Orders

Corinthian Capital from the Agora at Athens.
CC Photo Flickr User Eustaquio Santimano
The Romans preferred more ornate columns to the simple Doric and Ionic. The name of the column was also the name of the architectural order. Columns were used to support structures as well as for decoration. A word like octastyle refers to the number (8) of columns on the front row of the porch.


The Romans enjoyed their entertainment and spectators sports. They built amphitheaters, theaters, and circuses for different types of events. While circuses were right for horse races and were used for other entertainment purposes, the Roman also specialized, amphitheaters were right for gladiators or naumachia, and theaters were designed for viewing plays.


Roman Road in Tyre
CC Flickr User stevendamron
Roman roads or viae were the veins and arteries of the Roman military system. Through these highways, armies could march across the Empire from the Euphrates to the Atlantic.


N.S. Gill
Roman Baths might incorporate healing properties of native springs as they did at Aqua Sulis, known as Bath, in England.


Hadrian's Wall Near Housestead's Fort
NS Gill
Hadrian's Wall is one of the best known Roman walls. Located in northern England, it was started by the Roman Emperor to keep the northerners out of Roman Britain.


Roman bridge in Zagoria, northern Greece.
CC Flickr User pellaea
Roman bridges could be built of wood if they needed to go up quickly, but those didn't last. Roman bridges made of stone, with repairs made as needed, are still in use today. When they were built, they would have helped move armies, serving as part of the road system.


The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Roman Forum
CC Flickr User TheCreativePenn
Romans built round temples, like the Temple of Vesta, rectangular ones, like the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France, and a mixture, like the Pantheon.


Ruins of the Basilica Aemilia in the Roman Forum, taken by A.M. Kuchling
A.M. Kuchling
Before they became Christian buildings, basilicas were civil and administrative gathering places that could hold large numbers of people and were located in the town's forum. They would serve as courts of Roman law throughout the Empire. Rectangular in shape, the standard basilica had wooden ceilings and ended with semicircular niches called apses.


Arch of the Sergii in Pula, Croatia
CC Flickr User Ken_Mayer
Triumphing generals and emperors erected enduring monuments like arches and columns to commemorate their victories.

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