The Influence of Ancient Roman Architecture on Modern Buildings

There are numerous buildings and monuments around the world which reflect ancient Roman architecture, many still standing today as testaments to those responsible.

Roman architects utilized various materials when building structures and innovations, such as concrete, arches, and vaulting to construct massive and durable structures.

The Golden House

The Golden House in Rome was constructed by Emperor Nero following the Great Fire of Rome which devastated much of Rome in 64 AD. While Nero wasn’t particularly beloved among his subjects, he quickly earned their trust by rebuilding Rome to its former glory.

Nero’s new palace was an extensive entertainment complex located on the Esquiline and Caelian hills in Rome. Covering nearly 200 acres, its features included a park as well as an artificial lake designed to resemble the sea.

The Golden House was constructed between 65 and 68 and remains one of the premier examples of ancient Roman architecture. Notably, its influence can be found throughout Roman Empire with a pioneering use of concrete which allowed builders to more freely express themselves by creating more fluid shapes with concrete.

The Temple of Jupiter

The Temple of Jupiter on Capitoline Hill was at the core of Roman religion. Devoted to the Capitoline Triad – Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva – it featured three adjoining cellae (rooms).

Ancient architects described this temple as remarkable for both its quality and appearance, featuring Pentelic marble slabs on its superstructure, gold-plated doors, and an elaborate pedimental relief sculpture pediment. Constructed over an earlier Phoenician temple it retained some solar and cosmic attributes of Ba’al, its deity-forerunner.

John Stamper provides an insightful study that shows this temple as being at the forefront of Roman architecture. Drawing its design inspiration from Etruscan styles while incorporating local features into an overarching Roman template, its central pediment depicted Jupiter enthroned before other gods.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon is one of the most recognizable and impressive Roman buildings, boasting its circular construction clad with brick and concrete and featuring an enormous dome.

Visitors would have first passed through a portico with its tall Corinthian columns crafted of Egyptian granite as they approached the Pantheon. When under these giant columns, sunlight would gradually be dimmed.

As they entered the rotunda, they would have been taken aback by its breathtaking interior design. A 27-foot-wide opening called an oculus allowed natural light to enter through it and illuminated every corner of its chambers.

This temple was originally constructed around 25 BCE by statesman Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus the first Roman emperor, but later destroyed by fire and rebuilt many times over.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum was one of Rome’s iconic structures during ancient Roman history. Begun in 72 AD under Emperor Vespasian, its completion and subsequent opening by Titus was completed after his death and inaugurated with opening games in 80 AD.

Roman architects took inspiration from Greek architectural orders – Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian – focusing on supporting pillars as their basis of design; however, Roman designers preferred using arches over supporting columns when creating the Colosseum.

An elliptical structure 189 meters long and 156 meters wide. Originally, its original perimeter was 545 meters; its outer wall stood 48 meters high clad with travertine stone from a quarry near modern-day Tivoli.

Seating was predetermined and divided the arena into four tiers according to class: the first was reserved for the Emperor, Vestal Virgins, and senators; noblemen would sit on the second tier; the third tier for ordinary people; while a final fourth tier was reserved only for slaves and women.