Roman architecture is based especially on Greek and Etruscan traditions. In the Empire, there were important monumental buildings.
Roman’s history divided in three periods: Republic, Empire and Last Empire.
Roman Republic stared on 4th century and it finished on 27 BC. Rome was originally a small republican city state. In the period, there was an influence by Greek culture.
Rome became Empire on 27 BC thanks to Augustus. In this period, started public works.
The last period is called Late Empire that started on 284 and finished on 476 AD. There was an increasing pressure from barbarians at frontiers. In this period, the emperors became more and more despotic. Economic prosperity starded to shrink. In 313 Christianity was officially recognized and after it became state religion.
In roman architecture was used these materials: marble, terracotta, stone, brick and tuff that it is a volcanic rock of varying hardness.
But, the most important stones used by Roman builders was travertine: it is a limestone quarried mainly at Tivoli. Also the concrete was very important for Roman. They used this material for walls, domes and vaulted roofs.
Coloured marbles and such stones as porphyry, granite and alabaster were imported from various parts of the Empire because they became very important material.
In roman architecture there were five orders: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan and Composite.
The Doric order had a base on which the column rested. The Ionic order was used in some temples, public building and private homes. The Corinthian order was the most popular with Roman builders.
Unlike greek architecture, roman order’s had also Tuscan and Composite. Tuscan was a modifications of the greek Doric and Composite was a modifications of the greek Corinthian orders.
Temples, Theatres and Amphitheatres
Temples were classified according to the arrangement of their columnades: prostyle temples had columns only on the principal façade wile peripteral temples had columns on all four façades.
The number of columns on the principal façade was also very important; in fact, the temples were classified by this feature:
- tetrastyle: a temple with four columns on the front;
- hexastyle: a temple with six columns on the front;
- octastyle: a temple with eight columns on the front;
- decastyle: a temple with ten columns on the front.
In roman theatres, the auditorium wasn’t excavated and the walls surrounding the stage and seating were continuous. In Rome, there is today only a theatre that it remains exists is that of Marcellus; this theatre was built by Augustus around 10 BC.
Amphitheatres were arenas; in these arenas there were spectacles. The most important Amphitheatres built in Rome was the Colosseum. It was built in bricks; the exterior was faced with travertine and the interior with precious marbles.
Colosseum was built for about 50.000 spectators and it was built by the emperors Vespasian, Titus and Dominitian in about 70-82 AD.
Insula and domus
In roman architecture, an insula was a kind of apartment building that housed most of the urban citizen population of ancient Rome, including ordinary people of lower- or middle-class status (the plebs) and all but the wealthiest from the upper-middle class.