The Tuscan Order

Plain, without carvings and ornaments, The Tuscanic represents one of the five orders of classical architecture and it is a defining detail of today’s Neoclassical style building. Tuscan is one of the oldest and most simple architectural form practiced in ancient Italy.


what are the origins of the style?

The Tuscan Order, originates in the temples built by the Etruscans, native Italic people whose civilization predates the foundation of Rome and at its height encompassed the areas around Rome known as Latium and Campania. 


Detail of the four-row colonnade at the 17th century Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

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Considered strong and masculine, Tuscan columns were often used for utilitarian and military buildings. In his Treatise on Architecture, the Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio (1475–1554) called the Tuscan order “suitable to fortified places, such as city gates, fortresses, castles, treasuries, or where artillery and ammunition are kept, prisons, seaports and other similar structures used in war.”

Centuries later, builders in the United States adopted the uncomplicated Tuscan form for wood-framed Gothic Revival, Georgian Colonial Revival, Neoclassical and Classical Revival homes with simple, easy-to-construct columns.

Tuscan entrance

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how it differs from THE DORIC ORDER?

The tuscan order is a variation of the Doric and was widely used during the Renaissance. Probably it was first created by Romans and it has some elements that make it less severe if you compare it to the classical Doric order. For example there may be a base at the bottom of the column and first of all you can recognize it by the presence of a molding below the capital while the stem of the column is often smooth and without grooves.

The Tuscan Column is a Roman adaptation of the Doric. The Tuscan has an unfluted shaft and a simple echinus-abacus capital. It is similar in proportion and profile to the Roman Doric but is much plainer. The column is seven diameters high. This order is the most solid in appearance of all the orders.


  • Shaft sets on a simple base
  • Shaft is usually plain, not fluted (grooved)
  • Shaft is slender, with proportions similar to a Greek Ionic column
  • Smooth, round capitals (tops)
  • No carvings or other ornaments
Capital styles for the five major orders of Classical architecture. © Merriam-Webster Inc.

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Where can we find it today?

Some notable examples of this style can be found in Santa Maria della Pace (Pietro da Cortona, 1656) in Rome, Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne (Baldassarre Peruzzi) in Rome and later on throughout Europe with buildings that reach up to the late nineteenth century.

Santa Maria della Pace façade projecting from its concave wings: this, devised to simulate a theatrical set, has two orders and is entered by a semi-circular pronaos with paired Tuscan columns.

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Also in England there is Covent Garden by Inigo Jones (1633) in St Paul’s; another English house, West Wycombe Park and finally, the Palladian house of Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire.

St Paul, Covent Garden (1631-8) by Inigo Jones
St Paul, Covent Garden (1631-8) by Inigo Jones

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