The Doric Order – 6th Century B.C.

The Doric Order takes its name from its Poliponnesian origins and many of the most important Greek buildings were built respecting this order’s dictates. Even Vitruvius, the roman architect will write of it in his “De Architectura“.

Exterior View of the Parthenon in Athens
Parthenon – Atene, Greece, 447 BC

Image source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Parthenon


The Origin of the Doric Order

The Doric can be easily recognized seeing straightforward circular capitals at the top of the columns, and we can trace back to this architectural style many important buildings in the ancient Greece. It was the primary way of conceiving architecture and this way of conveying strength and elegant minimalism became really important all over Europe in the following centuries, alongside with Ionic and Corinthian orders.


A 1521 Italian language edition of De Architectura a by Cesare Cesariano
A 1521 Italian language edition of De Architectura, translated and illustrated by Cesare Cesariano.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_architectura

The Importance of Vitruvius

Vitruvius was a Roman architect and writer whose works survived until the Middle Ages. His handbook for Roman architects, De architectura, was discovered once again in the 15th century and, in the meanwhile, he was hailed as the classical architecture authority and many centuries later it will be possible to find traces of his ideas in many buildings all over the world. In his books he also gave details about the three important styles born in Greece and this will give evelasting glory to them. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods will be developed an aesthetic canon that had at the same time two goals: recalling classical orders and trying to improve them. The coding orders were deeply defined in the sixteenth century by Vignola in his famous Rules of Five Orders of Architecture”, this is not a way of coming back to past, it is a way indeed of dealing with it consciously.

Vitruvius's portrait
Portrait of Vitruvius

Image source: https://editions.covecollective.org/chronologies/birth-vitruvius-80-bc

Diffusion of the Doric Order

The Doric order was born in Peloponnese and it developed in Greece to also become a very important style of architecture in Greek colonies in the South Italy. All surviving temples of Ancient Greece and some of the most important contemporary Greek buildings are built in this order, including the Parthenon on the Athens Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Parthenon dominates the hill over Athens, was built in the mid-5th century BC and was dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos (“The Virgin”). It is generally considered the most important example of the Doric order. In the same period, was built the Temple of Zeus in Olimpia, another important celebration of this architectural style.

Ruins of the Temple of Zeus at Olimpia
Temple of Zeus – Olimpia, Greece, 470-456 a.C.

Image source: https://www.britannica.com/art/Western-architecture/Ancient-Greek

The Characteristics of this Order

The Doric order can be recognized being aware of the features that need to be found in a Doric Temple, for example:

  • Euthynteria: the platform of the temple, laid on the foundation;
  • Crepidoma: a platform on the basis of the temple, formed by steps leading to the temple;
  • The shaft of the column put on crepidoma. It has grooves with a sharp edge and is tapered from the bottom to the top;
  • The capital, which consists of two elements :

– The echino, with a truncated cone shape.

– The abacus, a simple marble slab.

Above the capital can be seen the entablature, that features a lintel on which  the frieze lays directly, divided in:

  • metopes (marble slabs decorated in bas-relief)
  • triglyphs (rectangles vertically furrowed by three channels).
Doric style: Column and entablature
Doric style: Column and entablature

Image source: http://bookofthrees.com/greek-columns/ 

The Doric Style Today

Many architects, over centuries, took inspiration from the Doric way of conceiving architecture and we also have many examples in Italy. Palazzo Te, a monumental building in Mantova, can be considered a homage to Greek architecture of that period. Federico II Gonzaga firmly wanted to build a palace with Doric features and commissioned it to Julio Roman.

Doric features that can be found in this building:

– in the external facades, with smooth pilasters (pillars embedded in a wall).

– the inner courtyard is also a Doric order and there are marble columns, left almost raw and surmounted by a mighty Doric entablature.

Picture of Palazzo Te
Palazzo Te in Mantova

Image source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Palazzo-del-Te

Info source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Parthenon

https://www.britannica.com/technology/order-architecture

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doric_order

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Zeus,_Olympia

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