What Colours Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece is known for its rich history, influential culture, and remarkable achievements in various fields. One aspect that often captures our imagination when thinking about this ancient civilization is the vibrant colors that adorned their art, architecture, and everyday life. Let’s explore what colors were prominent in Ancient Greece and the significance they held.

Colors in Ancient Greek Art

Ancient Greek art, whether it be pottery, sculpture, or frescoes, showcased a wide array of colors that were skillfully incorporated to create visually striking masterpieces. The use of color in their art was not only decorative but also symbolic, conveying deeper meanings and narratives.

Red: Symbol of Power and Passion

One of the most dominant colors used in Ancient Greek art was red. It was obtained from iron-rich clay and gave pottery a distinctive reddish hue.

Red was often associated with power, strength, and passion. It symbolized courage on the battlefield and was frequently used to depict warriors and heroes.

Black: Elegance and Drama

Contrasting with the vibrant reds were the elegant blacks seen in Ancient Greek pottery. Black figures against a reddish background created a dramatic effect.

The black color represented sophistication and depth. Figures depicted in black were often gods, goddesses, or mythical creatures.

White: Purity and Divinity

White played a significant role in Ancient Greek art as well. It symbolized purity and divinity.

Marble sculptures were left unpainted to showcase the natural beauty of the stone itself. White was also used to represent gods and goddesses as it conveyed their ethereal nature.

Colors in Architecture

The influence of color extended beyond art into architecture in Ancient Greece. While we may envision gleaming white marble temples today, it’s essential to recognize that these structures were once vibrant and colorful.

Blue: Symbolism of the Divine

The color blue, associated with the sky and the sea, was used in Greek architecture to symbolize divine connection. It represented the gods and their influence on mortal lives. The iconic blue roofs of Greek temples served as a reminder of the divine presence.

Gold: Radiance and Immortality

Gold was highly valued in Ancient Greece due to its rarity and association with wealth and power. It was used sparingly but strategically in architectural elements such as gilded statues and embellishments. Gold added a sense of radiance and immortality to the structures, elevating them to a higher level.

Colors in Everyday Life

Colors played a significant role in everyday life in Ancient Greece, not just limited to art and architecture.

Purple: Royalty and Nobility

Purple, derived from sea snails, was an expensive dye that symbolized royalty and nobility. It was reserved for those of high social standing, including kings, queens, and aristocrats.

White: Simplicity and Elegance

White garments were commonly worn by both men and women in Ancient Greece. The simplicity of white fabric represented elegance, purity, and timeless beauty.

  • Red: Associated with power and passion.
  • Black: Symbolized sophistication and depth.
  • White: Represented purity and divinity.
  • Blue: Signified divine connection.
  • Gold: Added radiance and immortality.
  • Purple: Signified royalty and nobility.


The colors of Ancient Greece were not only visually captivating but also carried deep symbolism and cultural significance. From the powerful reds and elegant blacks in their art to the divine blues and radiant golds in their architecture, these colors enriched the visual experience and allowed the ancient Greeks to express their beliefs, values, and societal structures.

As we delve into the world of Ancient Greece, let us appreciate the skillful use of colors that brought their art, architecture, and everyday life to life.