What Is the Circular Temple of Ancient Greece?

The circular temple, also known as a tholos, is a prominent feature of ancient Greek architecture. These buildings were primarily used for religious purposes and were constructed during the Classical period between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. The circular temple was a symbol of power and strength in ancient Greece, and its design continues to inspire architects today.

The Design of the Circular Temple

The circular temple was typically constructed using local stone, with a diameter ranging from 6 to 15 meters. The walls were often decorated with columns that supported a conical roof made from clay or marble tiles. The interior of the temple featured an altar at the center, surrounded by statues or other religious artifacts.

The Purpose of Circular Temples

Circular temples were primarily used for religious ceremonies and rituals. These temples were dedicated to various gods and goddesses, including Apollo, Athena, and Demeter. The circular shape was believed to represent the cyclical nature of life and death, as well as the eternal nature of the gods.

Examples of Circular Temples

One of the most famous examples of a circular temple is the Tholos of Delphi. This temple was built in the 4th century BCE and was dedicated to Athena Pronaia, one of the patron goddesses of Delphi. The temple featured 20 Doric columns supporting a conical roof made from marble tiles.

Another notable example is the Tholos at Epidaurus. This temple was built in the 4th century BCE and was dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing. The temple featured 26 Corinthian columns supporting a conical roof made from limestone tiles.

The Legacy of Circular Temples

The circular temple had a significant impact on ancient Greek architecture, inspiring other architectural styles such as amphitheaters and stadiums. The design of the circular temple also influenced Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture, as well as modern buildings such as the United States Capitol Building.


The circular temple is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of ancient Greek architects. These buildings continue to inspire awe and admiration for their beauty and engineering prowess. The legacy of the circular temple lives on in modern-day architecture, serving as a reminder of the enduring influence of ancient Greece on our world today.