Unit 3-Roman Architecture

At around around 1,100 BCE, the settlement of the Latins in the center of the Italian peninsula occurs. According to ancient Roman tradition it was in 753 BCE when Romulus and Remus founded the city of Rome. The Romans spread throughout the Mediterranean basin and much of Europe. During the imperial period (27 BCE – 476 CE) Roman control extended to unthinkable limits.

Maison Carrée, el templo romano más intacto | Destino Infinito

Roman architecture was universal, embodying the essence of the romanitas wherever it was built. With the discovery of concrete, the Romans created new forms and were able to experiment with interior space, lights and shadows. The most singular technical advance was the coverage of large public spaces with arches, vaults or domes (except for temples). They did not follow constructive ideals but stability, functionality and magnificence.

Religious buildings:

Temples are the typical roman religious building, they take inspiration from the greeks temples and add two new orders Tuscan and Composite.

Panteón Romano de Agripa, Características, Arquitectura y Función

Normally they placed their temples on very high podium whose staircase was located in the axis of the door of the cella, They usually were pseudoperiptera, with the lateral columns attached to the wall of the cella. Romans also experiment with other types of plants, like circular or cruciform plants.

They took elements from other Etruscan villages: arch and vault. They developed domes to cover buildings solving the
technical problems of the Greeks.

The Pantheon of Rome (118-128 CE) is the religious building that best represents the achievements of Rome. It is a temple dedicated to all gods, including the deified Emperor Augustus.

El acueducto, la obra maestra | Ingeniería Romana

Civil works:

Romans were specialists in the design of infrastructures such as: sawage networks, aqueducts, roads, bridges and walls.

Public buildings:

Arco triunfal foto de archivo. Imagen de pesado, exterior, arco - 16

Conmemorative structures:

Romans were specialists in the design of infrastructures such as triumphal arches and commemorative columns.

Triumphal arches are ceremonial works and a source of architectural and sculptural details, we have for example the arch of Constantine is a rectangular structure with three openings, one central and two auxiliary. There are columns on pedestals that rise up to an entablature. Above it is a super structure called attic, with signs and reliefs.

Commemorative columns are monuments erected to commemorate an important event, such as a military victory. For

example, we have the Trajan’s column that commemorates the victory of Trajan against Dacians.


Another kind of public buildings are baths, they played an important social role. Baths were used as a place to exercise the body, a library, a school, a place for commercial relations, a place for the exhibition of sculptures, and many other things.

El Estado Islámico destruye el tetrápilo y la fachada del teatro romano de  Palmira


Theaters are another kind of public building, roman theatres derive from the greek model but have greater proportions. They were not embedded in the slopes of the mountains. Their steps were built on a radial system of inclined concrete vaults raised on stone pillars. They were perfectly semi-circular and not horseshoe like the greeks. They were employed to perform theatrical greek and roman plays, without religious or educational purposes. The scene was closed behind and decorated, and had the same height as the last row of seats.

El plan de Italia para reconstruir el Coliseo romano como era en la época  de gladiadores | National Geographic en Español


We also have amphitheaters, the amphitheatres are the main roman architecture’s innovation. They present a double theatre with elliptical scene and a continuous grandstand. They were dedicated to fights between gladiators with beasts, or between them, and other similar mass spectacles (45,000-55,000 spectators). They had hatches with systems to lift the beasts and flood mechanisms for naumachia (naval battles). Example of how to organize a space for many people, masterpiece of logistics and deployment of personnel for its construction where they worked in several areas at the time. The most known amphitheatre is the Colosseum in Rome.


Visita al Circo Romano

The basilica was considerated as a court of justice. They were equivalent to the greek stoa. They were built next to the forum. They were usually rectangular, with central nave and aisles with a stage and apse at each of the two ends.


The roman circus was destined for races, gladiatorial combats, shows and performances. They were inspired by greek racetracks and stadiums, but with much larger dimensions. The Circus Maximus of Rome, the oldest and most imposing, had a capacity of more than 385,000 spectators.


Photo 1: https://destinoinfinito.com/maison-carree/

Photo 2: https://www.monumentosderoma.es/el-panteon/

Photo 3: https://www.rtve.es/television/20210203/

Photo 4: https://es.dreamstime.com/imagen-de-archivo-libre-

Photo 5: https://historia.nationalgeographic.com.es/a/estado-islamico-destruye-tetrapilo-y-fachada-teatro-romano-palmira_11059

Photo 6: https://www.ngenespanol.com/traveler/el-plan-de-italia-para-restaurar-el-coliseo-romano-a-como-era-hace-2-mil-anos/

Photo 7: https://consorciomerida.sacatuentrada.es/es/lotes/visita-al-circo-romano