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Roman World
by Matthew Webb, University of Maryland

Roman Architecture

The Romans built some incredible buildings. The process of designing and constructing a building is called architecture. In this lesson, we're going to explore ancient Roman architecture, and see how it still influences us today!

To begin with, let's look at one of the most famous items of Roman architecture, the temple. At temples, Romans would worship their gods and goddesses that you learned about in the first lesson. Here is a picture of an ancient Roman temple.

Now, here are the names for the parts of the temple! All Roman temples have these parts.

1 = porch, the steps and front entrance of the temple

2 = stylobate, the base

3 = column

4 = capital, the very top portion of a column

5 = arcatrave

6 = frieze, the bas reliefs inside the pediment

7 = pediment

Click here for a worksheet that will allow you to practice your knowledge of the parts of an ancient Roman temple. Be sure to print out the worksheet and complete it!

Now that we know everything there is to know about Roman temples, let's look at some of the other elements of Roman architecture.



There are three types of columns: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Look at the picture below, and then describe the differences among the three styles of columns in the box below.




and inside the dome, looking up...

Portico, or Covered Walkway


One of the amazing things about Roman architecture is that buildings built hundreds and thousands of years after the Romans lived still show the influences of Roman architecture! We're now going to take a short tour of three different places: Washington, DC, the Universities of Virginia and Maryland, and a residential neighborhood. Keep your eyes peeled for Roman architectural influences in each of the pictures that you see. Write down the Roman elements in the box below each picture.


Washington, DC

The Roman elements in this building: dome, pediment, columns, anything else?

University of Virginia and University of Maryland


A Residential Neighborhood

Wasn't that fun? Here's another fun activity: take a walk with your parents and Testudo through your own neighborhood, and write down all the Roman elements that you see!

Want another activity? Using a pencil, markers, and a ruler, draw a building of your very own! Be sure to include Roman elements, such as columns, domes, arches, porticos, obelisks, and pediments. Use the ruler to make straight lines. You could also try using this online drawing program to make your building. The program works best in Internet Explorer.

Congratulations, you have finished the third lesson!


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