How Did Ancient Greece and Rome Inspire the Architecture of the Renaissance?

The Renaissance period, spanning from the 14th to the 17th century, was a time of great cultural and artistic revival in Europe. During this period, architects drew inspiration from various classical civilizations, particularly Ancient Greece and Rome. The architectural styles and principles of these ancient civilizations played a significant role in shaping the Renaissance architecture we see today.

Influence of Ancient Greece:

Ancient Greek architecture heavily influenced the Renaissance architects, as they admired the elegance and simplicity of Greek design. The Greeks focused on harmonious proportions and emphasized balance and symmetry in their structures.


The most iconic element borrowed from Ancient Greece is the use of columns. Columns were an essential part of Greek architecture and were incorporated into many Renaissance buildings. The three main types of columns used by both civilizations are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

  • The Doric order is the simplest with plain, sturdy columns topped by a capital that resembles a round cushion.
  • The Ionic order is more ornate with slender columns topped by scroll-like capitals.
  • The Corinthian order is the most elaborate with columns adorned by acanthus leaves.


Ancient Greek architecture was characterized by its emphasis on symmetry. This notion of balance was embraced by Renaissance architects who sought to create harmonious designs. The concept of symmetry can be seen in facades, floor plans, and even interior ornamentation.

Influence of Ancient Rome:

Ancient Roman architecture also played a significant role in inspiring Renaissance architects. The Romans built upon Greek architectural principles but added their own innovations while incorporating elements from other civilizations they encountered.

Arch and Dome:

Ancient Romans were known for their mastery of arches and domes. Renaissance architects adopted these architectural features, allowing for grand, spacious interiors in their buildings. The dome, in particular, became a prominent feature in Renaissance architecture, adding a sense of grandeur and awe.

Colosseum and Amphitheaters:

The Colosseum in Rome served as an inspiration for many Renaissance architects. Its innovative design with multiple levels and arches influenced the construction of theaters and amphitheaters during the Renaissance. These structures provided spaces for various events, such as theatrical performances and public gatherings.

The Revival of Classical Elements:

The Renaissance architects saw themselves as reviving the greatness of the classical world. They sought to recreate the ideal proportions, harmony, and beauty found in Ancient Greek and Roman architecture. By incorporating elements like columns, symmetry, arches, and domes into their designs, they paid homage to these ancient civilizations while creating magnificent structures that still captivate us today.

To summarize, the architecture of the Renaissance was profoundly inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome. The elegance of Greek design with its columns and emphasis on symmetry combined with Roman innovations such as arches and domes created a distinct architectural style that defined this period. The revival of classical elements not only paid tribute to the past but also laid the foundation for future architectural developments.