What Does Ionic Mean in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, the term “Ionic” had a significant meaning beyond its modern-day usage. The Ionic order was one of the three main architectural orders, or styles, used in ancient Greek and Roman buildings. It was known for its elegant and decorative design, characterized by its slender columns with scroll-like decorations at the top.

Origins of Ionic Order

The Ionic order originated in the mid-6th century BCE in Ionia, a region located on the western coast of modern-day Turkey. It was used extensively in the construction of temples and other public buildings throughout Ionia and later became popular throughout Greece.

Key Characteristics

The Ionic order is known for its distinctive features that set it apart from other architectural orders. Some of these key characteristics include:

  • Slender columns with a base
  • Volute scrolls at the top of columns
  • Friezes with elaborate relief sculptures
  • A continuous frieze that runs around the building
  • A shallow roof with sloping sides

These features gave the Ionic order a sense of lightness and elegance that was highly prized in ancient Greek architecture.

Examples of Ionic Order Buildings

Some of the most famous examples of buildings constructed using the Ionic order include:

  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
  • The Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens – known for its caryatids (female statues used as support columns).
  • The Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis in Athens – built to celebrate victories in battle.

These buildings showcase some of the most intricate and beautiful examples of the Ionic order in ancient Greek architecture.


In conclusion, the term “Ionic” has a rich history in ancient Greek architecture. The Ionic order was one of the three main architectural orders used in ancient Greece and was known for its elegant and decorative design. Today, it continues to inspire architects and designers around the world with its timeless beauty and graceful lines.