Classical architecture  

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1872 photograph of the western face of the Greek Parthenon
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1872 photograph of the western face of the Greek Parthenon

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Classical architecture is the set of building styles and techniques of Classical Greece, as used in ancient Greece, the Hellenistic period, and the Roman empire. In architectural history, Classical architecture also includes later and modern styles derived from Greek sources, while archaeological usage is more strictly limited to the Classical period.

Archaeological use

Classical architecture can be divided into:

Only Greek architecture in the time before Alexander (who died in 324 BC) carries an authentic, ethnic designation. The ancient Greeks were notoriously dismissive of barbaroi – those who spoke Greek non-natively or not at all. The incredible conquests of Alexander and the subsequent application of a veneer of Greek city states to a base of Egyptian, Semitic, and Iranian populations produced an important change. Though speaking Greek remained the touchstone of whether one was a member of civilized culture or not, the ethnic diversification of the Hellenistic world is clear. The formal elements of classical Greek architecture were applied to temples for gods never worshipped in Greece.

The Romans can be seen as the latest Hellenistic empire. Pre-imperial architecture is more or less Etruscan with some Greek elements. By the time the Romans conquered mainland Greece in the 2nd century BC they were importing Greek craftsmen to build major public buildings. The term Roman Art and Roman Architecture has no ethnic meaning relating to Italic Romans. Most art historians assume that it has the ethnic meaning of "Greek-speaking slave" or "Greek-speaking free laborer," in fact.

Architectural use

Most of the styles originating in post-renaissance Europe can be described as classical architecture. This broad use of the term is employed by Sir John Summerson in The Classical Language of Architecture.

The "elements" of classical architecture have been applied in radically different architectural contexts than those for which they were developed. The classical ordersDoric, Ionic, and Corinthian – have meaning in the stylistic history of 5th century BC Greece, shifting to the developments in 1st century AD Gaul, with the styles revived over and over again since then.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Classical architecture" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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