Photo of the Roman Colosseum

The Colosseum in Rome is the iconic symbol of the city.  Its history and imagery are known around the world.  The rows of arches and columns can be seen from almost any high point in Rome and have been photographed countless times.  However, you have to look a little closer to notice the architectural details of this classic Roman structure.  The columns that ring the Colosseum are not all the same.  The style of the columns change with each level.  For both aesthetic and structural reasons the Romans used three different Classical order of columns in the Colosseum.

At the ground level the more plain Doric Order was used.  Most noticeable by it simple capital and fluted shaft, the Doric Order was considered to be able to hold the most weight.  So it was used on the bottom level.

Photo of the doric order columns of the Colosseum

At the next level up a more ornate column, the Ionic Order, was used.  With its scroll-like capital and often fluted shaft the Ionic Order offers more decoration than the Doric columns below it.

Photo of the ionic order columns of the colosseum in Rome

Finally, the Colosseum’s third level was topped off with the most ornate of the three Classical Orders, the Corinthian column.  It is the most slender of the three as well and was therefore holding up the least weight at the top level of the Colosseum.

Photo of the Corinithian Order columns on the Colosseum in Rome

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