A Brief Overview of Classicism Architecture: Principles and Examples

Classicism architecture, also known as Neoclassical architecture, is an architectural style that drew inspiration from the classical civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome. It emerged in the 18th century, during a period known as the Enlightenment, when there was a renewed interest in the principles of logic, reason, and order.

Classicism architecture is characterized by its adherence to classical principles of symmetry, proportion, and harmony. Buildings designed in this style often feature columns, pediments, and other classical elements. The use of these elements creates a sense of balance and grandeur, giving the buildings a timeless and elegant aesthetic.

The principles of Classicism architecture emphasized the importance of beauty, simplicity, and functionality. Architects aimed to create buildings that would stand the test of time, drawing on the enduring qualities of classical architecture. This approach rejected the excessive ornamentation and intricate detailing of the preceding Baroque style in favor of cleaner, more restrained designs.


One of the most famous examples of Classicism architecture is the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Built in the 5th century BC, the Parthenon is considered a masterpiece of classical architecture. Its symmetrical design, use of columns, and proportionally balanced elements have made it an iconic symbol of ancient Greek civilization.


Another notable example of Classicism architecture is the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. Built in the 2nd century AD, the Pantheon is renowned for its dome, which is one of the largest unsupported domes in the world. Its use of classical elements, such as columns and pediments, combined with innovative engineering, showcases the mastery of ancient Roman architects.

Overall, Classicism architecture represents a return to the principles and aesthetics of classical civilizations. Its emphasis on symmetry, proportion, and simplicity continues to influence architectural design to this day, making it a timeless and enduring style.

A Brief History of Classicism Architecture

The roots of classicism architecture can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, where it emerged as a response to the ornate and elaborate styles of the time. Classicism architecture, also known as neoclassical architecture, is characterized by its emphasis on simplicity, elegance, and symmetry.

In ancient Greece, architecture was seen as a reflection of the democratic ideals and philosophical thoughts of the society. This is evident in the construction of iconic buildings such as the Parthenon in Athens, which showcases the use of columns, pediments, and friezes to create a harmonious and balanced design. These architectural elements became the foundation of classicism architecture.

During the Roman Empire, classicism architecture reached its peak with the construction of monumental structures like the Colosseum and the Pantheon. These buildings showcased the use of arches, vaults, and domes, which became key features of classicism architecture in later periods.

The influence of classicism architecture diminished during the medieval period, as architecture became more focused on religious symbolism and Gothic styles. However, with the Renaissance in the 15th century, there was a renewed interest in the classical principles of Greece and Rome.

The rediscovery and study of ancient texts, such as Vitruvius’ “Ten Books on Architecture,” led to a revival of classicism architecture. Architects like Andrea Palladio in Italy and Inigo Jones in England began incorporating classical elements into their designs.

Classicism architecture continued to evolve during the 17th and 18th centuries with the rise of the Age of Enlightenment. Architects such as Christopher Wren in England and Jacques-Germain Soufflot in France embraced the neoclassical style, which placed an emphasis on rationality, order, and simplicity.

Classicism architecture eventually spread to other parts of the world, including the United States, where it became closely associated with the country’s founding fathers. Examples of classicism architecture in the United States include the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and the White House.

Today, classicism architecture continues to be admired for its timeless elegance and grandeur. It serves as a reminder of the enduring influence of ancient Greek and Roman cultures and their contributions to the field of architecture.

Principles of Classicism Architecture

Principles of Classicism Architecture

The principles of Classicism architecture were based on the revival of ancient Greek and Roman architectural styles during the 18th and 19th centuries. These principles were seen as a return to order, symmetry, and rationality in contrast to the more decorative and ornate styles that preceded them.

Here are some key principles of Classicism architecture:

1. Symmetry: Classicism architecture emphasized symmetrical designs, with a balanced arrangement of elements on both sides of a central axis. This created a sense of harmony and proportion in buildings.

2. Proportion: Proportional relationships were crucial in Classicism architecture. Buildings were designed using mathematical ratios, such as the Golden Ratio, to create a harmonious and visually pleasing aesthetic.

3. Order: Classicism architecture followed the principles of classical orders, which were based on the classical Greek and Roman architectural styles. These orders, including the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, provided a system of rules for creating buildings.

4. Columns: Columns were a prominent feature in Classicism architecture. They were used as structural elements and decorative elements, with different types of columns corresponding to different orders.

5. Classical Motifs: Classicism architecture incorporated various classical motifs and decorative elements, such as pediments, friezes, and pilasters. These elements added visual interest and provided a connection to the ancient world.

6. Simplicity: Classicism architecture emphasized simplicity and restraint in design. Ornamentation was used sparingly, and buildings focused on clean lines, proportion, and architectural details.

7. Neoclassical Style: Classicism architecture is often associated with the neoclassical movement, which emerged during the 18th century. Neoclassical architects drew inspiration from ancient Greece and Rome, but also incorporated their own interpretations and adaptations of classical principles.

These principles of Classicism architecture continue to influence architectural design today. The style’s focus on order, symmetry, and proportion has had a lasting impact on the field of architecture, leaving a legacy of classical-inspired buildings that still inspire and captivate audiences.

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