In ancient Greece, temples played a significant role in the religious and cultural life of the Greeks. These grand structures were dedicated to the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology and were used for worship, offerings, and other religious ceremonies.
But what were these temples called? Let’s explore.
The Temple: A Brief Overview
Temples in ancient Greece were called “naos” or “hieron.” The naos was the inner sanctuary of the temple where the statue of the god or goddess was housed.
It was considered the holiest part of the temple and was only accessible to the priests or priestesses. The hieron, on the other hand, was the entire temple complex that included not only the naos but also various other structures such as courtyards, stoas (colonnaded porticos), and treasuries.
The Structure of a Temple
Greek temples were typically rectangular in shape with a gabled roof supported by columns on all four sides. The number of columns varied from temple to temple, and their style also changed over time. For instance, early Greek temples had columns that were slender with simple capitals while later temples had thicker columns with more ornate capitals.
Types of Temples
There were three main types of temples in ancient Greece – Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian – each characterized by their unique architectural features.
Doric temples were characterized by their simplicity and ruggedness. They had no base under their columns and had a plain capital with a circular echinus topped by a square abacus. Some notable examples of Doric temples include Parthenon in Athens and Temple of Apollo at Corinth.
Ionic temples were more ornate than Doric ones. They had bases under their columns and their capital was decorated with volutes (scroll-like ornaments) on both sides. Some famous examples of Ionic temples include the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Erechtheum in Athens.
Corinthian temples were the most ornate of all Greek temples. They had a base under their columns, and their capital was decorated with acanthus leaves. The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens is a famous example of a Corinthian temple.
The Significance of Temples in Ancient Greece
Temples were not only places of worship but also served as community centers where people gathered for festivals, games, and other cultural events. They were also used to store treasures and offerings made to the gods and goddesses. The construction of a temple was considered an act of piety and was often funded by wealthy individuals or the state.
The Legacy of Greek Temples
Greek temples have left an indelible mark on Western architecture and continue to inspire architects today. Their architectural style has been imitated in buildings such as the United States Capitol building in Washington D.C., which features a neoclassical design inspired by Greek temples.
- In conclusion, temples in ancient Greece were called “naos” or “hieron.”
- Greek temples were typically rectangular in shape with a gabled roof supported by columns on all four sides.
- There were three main types of temples – Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian – each characterized by their unique architectural features.
- Temples played a significant role not only in religious life but also cultural life.
- Greek temples have left an indelible mark on Western architecture.
Whether you are an architecture enthusiast or simply curious about ancient Greece, exploring the world of Greek temples is sure to be a fascinating journey.