Greek Doric Order of Architecture: Definition & Example Buildings & Columns

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  • 0:01 What Was the Doric Order?
  • 0:37 Columns of the Doric Order
  • 1:16 Entablature of the Doric Order
  • 2:52 Examples of the Doric Order
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Explore the first style of Greek stone architecture called the Doric Order and test your understanding about ancient engineering, architectural styles, and Greek temples.

What Was the Doric Order?

The Doric Order of Greek architecture was the first style of stone temple architecture in ancient Greece. It became popular in the Archaic Period, roughly 750-480 BCE, and replaced the previous style of basic, wood structures. The Doric Order was the first style of Classical Architecture, which is the sophisticated architectural styles of ancient Greece and Rome that set the standards for beauty, harmony, and strength for European architecture. The other two orders are Ionic and Corinthian. Doric Order is recognizable by two basic features: the columns and the entablature.

The Doric Order of Greek Architecture
Doric Order

Columns in the Doric Order

The purpose of the columns was to support the weight of the ceiling. Each order of classical architecture used columns for this purpose, but the columns were differently designed. In the Doric Order, the column shaft is simple and tapered, meaning it is wider at the base than the top. Each column has 20 parallel, vertical grooves called flutes.

Doric Columns
Doric Column

Columns in the Doric Order did not have a base (a wide flat stone) but rested directly on the pavement of the temple, called the stylobate. The top of a column has a wide, flat section called the capital. The capital of a column directly supports the weight of the ceiling. Capitals in the Doric Order are smooth, without decoration, and are flared, meaning the top is wider than the base.

Entablature in the Doric Order

The entablature is the structure that rests on top of the columns and has three parts. The architrave is the horizontal beam that is directly on the capital of the column and is undecorated in the Doric Order. The second section is the frieze. This is the most distinguishing feature of the Doric entablature because Doric friezes have alternating patterns of triglyphs and metopes as decoration. A triglyph is a panel with three vertical lines; the metope is the blank space between triglyphs. Triglyphs are meant to resemble the end of wooden beams, which would have supported the weight of the ceiling in wooden temples. Above the frieze is the cornice, the protruding section that supports the topmost structure, the triangular pediment. Often, statues of deities were found in the pediment.

Doric Entablature
Doric Entablature

Doric temples were supposed to be aesthetically balanced, and ideally, there should have been one triglyph above the center of each column and one directly between each column. However, because the Doric Order was the first time stone temples were used, the Greeks were still learning how to adjust for the extra weight of stone. Therefore the last two columns on each row had to be closer together to balance the weight, meaning the triglyphs were off-center. This issue was called the Doric Corner Conflict and took years for architects to correct. Eventually they resolved it by reducing the size of the end metopes, so that the triglyphs were centered over the end columns again.

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