Stoa in Ancient Greek Architecture

The term has derived from Greek. Plural: stoas, stoai, or stoae.

It is hall structure, commonly designed for public use. “Early stoas were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building” (“Stoa” 2021). Simultaneously, they had a wall at the back, often with doors leading to added warehouses. As such, “they created a safe, enveloping [and] protective atmosphere” (Ibid.). In the architecture of ancient Greek cities, stoa had been in existence since the fifth century BC.

“Later examples were built as two stories, and incorporated inner colonnades usually in the Ionic style, where shops or sometimes offices were located. These buildings were open to the public; merchants could sell their goods, artists could display their artwork, and religious gatherings could take place” (“Stoa” 2021).

Athens: the Stoa of Attalos (the Museum of the Ancient Agora) and the Church of the Holy Apostles, as seen from Acropolis hill. Photo by A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo and caption source: “Stoa of Attalos” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

In Hellenistic times, stoas ran around the four sides of the market, creating a kind of peristyle with a shady roofed portico. “Stoas usually surrounded the […] agora of large cities and were used as a framing device” (“Stoa” 2021). They were usually erected in the courtyards of gymnasiums and palaestras. They also surrounded port pools, closed a pier or ran as covered walkways along roads. Other examples were designed to create safe, protective atmospheres which combined useful inside and outside space.

The most famous is the stoa of Poikile (Stoa Poecile), situated on the north side of the Ancient Agora of Athens. It was covered with famous paintings, and therefore it was also called the ‘Painted Stoa’. It is mostly famous of the philosopher Zeno of Citium (335-263 BC.), who met his followers there and taught, He was a Hellenistic thinker who founded the Stoic school of philosophy. Consequently, “[the] name of the Stoic school of philosophy [has derived] from ‘stoa'” (“Stoa” 2021).

Featured image: View of the Stoa Amphiaraion. By J. M. Harrington, personal digital image (2007). CC BY 2.5. Photo and caption source: “Stoa” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.


“Stoa” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 7th May, 2021].

“Stoa Poikile” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 7th May, 2021].

“Stoa of Attalos” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 7th May, 2021].

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy IEP (2021). “The Stoa”. In: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy IEP. Fieser J., Dowden B. eds. Available at <>. [Accessed on 7th May, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 389. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

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