Doric Order in Ancient Greek and Roman Architecture

The Doric order “was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian” (“Doric order” 2021). It is characterized by heavy proportions, austerity and monumentality.

Classical Greek Architecture. Example of the Doric Order: 1. Tympanum, 2. Acroterion, 3. Sima, 4. Cornice, 5. Mutule, 7. Frieze, 8. Triglyph, 9. Metope, 10. Regula, 11. Gutta, 12. Taenia, 13. Architrave, 14. Capital, 15. Abacus, 16. Echinus, 17. Column, 18. Fluting, 19. Stylobate. Drawing by Napoleon Vier (2005). CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo and caption source: “Sima (architecture)” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Doric columns do not have a base and are directly supported on a stylobate. They either have a fluted shaft: from 18 to 20 sharply cut grooves or a smooth-surfaced shaft. In any case it is tapered upwards, with a slight bulge (enthase) at 1/2 or 2/3 of its height. It has a head consisting of echinus and abacus.

Doric entablature consists of a smooth architrave, a frieze is divided into triglyphs and metopes (square spaces for either painted or sculpted decoration). Beneath each triglyph and below a flat band (taenia), separating the architrave from the frieze, there is the so-called gutta regula (gutae). “[In] the frieze, […] the two features originally unique to the Doric [are] the triglyph and guttae; [they] are skeuomorphic memories of the beams and retaining pegs of the wooden constructions that preceded stone Doric temples. [But in] stone they are purely ornamental” (“Doric order” 2021). Above the frieze, there is, in turn, a flattened plate (modillion) with looking like water drops, three rows of mutules, supporting the cornice. A cornice (geison) often ends with a gutter (sim) with spouts and antefixes, located above.

Mandatory in the Doric order is the so-called triglyph rule (a correct spacing of the triglyphs), which strictly defines the arrangement of triglyphs on the frieze. It was, however, difficult to apply in monumental structures, which eventually may have caused the abandonment of the Doric architectural order in the Hellenistic period.

The Doric order was initiated “on the Greek mainland in the late seventh century [BC.] and remained the predominant order for Greek temple construction through the early fifth century [BC.], although notable buildings built later in the Classical period—especially the canonical Parthenon in Athens—still employed it” (Khan Academy 2021).

View of the Rhodian Apollo Temple, which used to be in the Doric order. Copyright©Archaeotravel.

After Vitruvius (81-15 BC.), a Roman author and architect, “the height of Doric columns is six or seven times the diameter at the base, [which] gives the Doric columns a shorter, thicker look than Ionic columns, which have 8:1 proportions. It is suggested that these proportions give the Doric columns a masculine appearance, whereas the more slender Ionic [or Corinthian] columns appear to represent a more feminine look. This sense of masculinity and femininity was often used to determine which type of column would be used for a particular structure” (“Doric order” 2021).

Featured image: Two early Archaic Doric order Greek temples at Paestum (Italy) with much wider capitals than later. Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta – Own work (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo and caption source: “Doric order” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.


“Sima (architecture)” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 6th May, 2021].

“Doric order” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 6th May, 2021].

Khan Academy (2021). “Greek architectural orders. The Doric order”. In: Khan Academy. Available at <>. [Accessed on 6th May, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 327. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.