Ancient Roman Architecture incorporated the most practical and cost effective elements of the most successful urban cultures at the time. The most notable aspect of Roman planning was the use of dynamic, ever-evolving structures in all their various forms. The primary purpose of the city state was to keep its citizenry contained within the walls of organized government buildings and centers. To that end, the city had a strong central administrative authority, known as the Roman Senate, with the Pope as the head of a conical hierarchy known as the Roman clergy.
Ancient Roman Architecture borrowed heavily from Greek construction techniques for the purposes of their urban settlements, but was much different from Greek buildings, being a completely new architectural style. Roman buildings, such as the Colosseum and the Forum, contained a political importance as well as providing a place for public gatherings. The Romans also developed the use of permanent statuary to distinguish individual individuals from groups of citizens. Their streets were lined with wooden plaques or portraits of past kings, queens, Caesar, and other important leaders. The roads themselves, which branched out from the main streets, also included decorative entries made of marble or lime stones. These features, along with numerous drainage systems, prevented floods from destroying Roman towns and cities.
In contrast to the grandeur of ancient Roman architecture, the average building style in the Roman world was quite basic. As a result, Rome was not populated by the elite class of Greek and Egyptian civilizations, which had a more developed visual vocabulary. Despite this fact, the Romans did have a written language, Roman alphabets, which were mostly used for official correspondence and legal matters. Roman architecture also borrowed heavily from Greek building styles, with many of the most famous Roman monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, built from pre-Roman brick. Unlike ancient Roman architecture, much of the infrastructure of the Roman city was built from modular construction techniques. Modular buildings were constructed in a factory-like manner from pre-fabricated sections.
The arches found in Roman architecture were constructed to support the columns supporting the walls of the buildings. Arch windows were constructed in the recesses of these arches to enable natural light into the building. They served not only as windows but also as mechanical and electrical support structures for various parts of the edifice. They were therefore important to the functioning of the Roman economy.
Architectural development in the Roman Empire relied heavily on the skill of the Roman legionnaires. Most of their buildings, including the famous Colosseum and the Roman Forum, were designed by the legionnaires themselves using local building supplies. A well-known architectural motif in the Roman Empire was the use of large colonnades, or terraces, which were constructed along the edges of towns to reinforce their defensive structures. Although they appeared in a very limited number of cities throughout the empire, the use of colonnades paved the way for all future forms of architecture, like the arch.
The use of metals in the Roman civilization was both for practical and functional reasons. Most common materials that were used were either iron or bronze, both of which had great fire resistance abilities. Iron was commonly used to construct the parapets of the Roman legionnaires; however, the Romans also used bronze for wall coverings, because bronze was the only material that was available that was strong enough to be used for such large constructions. Therefore, most of the palaces and fortresses in the Roman Empire were constructed from either iron or bronze.
The most striking feature of ancient Greece and Rome is its impressive palaces and other monuments that are still standing to this day. However, the Greeks did not have the knowledge and resources to fully construct the massive edifices of Rome and the early medieval Europe. They instead spent their time focusing on the more practical aspects of their culture. This allowed them to develop highly skilled artisans, whose skills enabled them to construct many of the intricate architectural designs that are still seen in the modern world.
The influence of the Roman architecture can still be seen today. Most of the public buildings in the European cities feature some element of the Roman style, whether it be through the use of arches, columns, doorways or even the use of the veil, which is a horizontal panel that covers the doorway. One of the most famous examples of this is the Eiffel Tower, which has inspired many architects and designers. However, the true influence of the Roman architecture cannot be completely understood until one enters the underground mines of Rome. It is there that one can truly appreciate the full scope of the destruction that occurred under the rule of the Roman Empire, and how their soldiers romped about under the protective barriers that were constructed in the thousands of years’ long war.