How were Roman buildings constructed?

Roman buildings

In ancient Rome, construction projects were very important. They built roads, aqueducts, stadiums, amphitheaters, and other public facilities. These projects required huge amounts of manpower, and they needed skilled workers. But the Romans weren’t as advanced as we are today.

They didn’t use iron tools, and they relied on timber for their structural supports. Their architects couldn’t draw accurate plans, and they lacked modern equipment. To overcome these limitations, Roman architects developed a unique method of construction. It wasn’t based on precise measurements, and it wasn’t drawn up on paper. Instead, it was designed using models, and it was built using wood blocks.

This allowed the builders to make changes easily. Wooden blocks were easier to transport than large pieces of metal, which meant that the builders could move quickly. The wooden model was put together piecemeal, and individual elements were added as they were required. When the structure was completed, it was covered in plaster.

The plaster provided a smooth surface, and it protected the wooden blocks from corrosion. The blocks were joined together with mortar made from lime and sand, and they were held in place with pegs. The whole thing was coated with concrete, and it became a solid mass. This technique produced strong, stable, long-lasting buildings. The Romans used this method to construct almost every type of structure.

The most famous example is the Colosseum in Rome. It began as a simple oval shape, but it was later expanded into a rectangle. Its dimensions are impressive—they measure approximately 700 meters long, 320 meters wide, and 35 meters high. More than 50 million people have visited the stadium since it opened in AD 80. It is still standing after 2,000 years!

For most of our lifetime, we lived in a world dominated by stone structures. Stone was everywhere — walls, fences, roads, bridges, columns, and more.

This incredible structure makes us wonder about its construction method. How did Romans go about building these amazing structures? Did they use any special techniques? What materials would they have used?

Roman Architecture

How were Roman buildings constructed?
Roman buildings

Roman Architecture changed over time – from Ancient roman architectural style to Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, etc., all the way to Modernist and Contemporary.

Etruscan architecture was first developed by the Greeks, who took some of its basic forms from earlier cultures, but then added new features and styles.

They were using the words and forms of Classical Greek Architecture, but they had developed their own form, which became a new architectural language and also transformed into architectural structure

Roman temples emphasized the front of the buildings, which were similar to Greek temples and had wide stairs leading up to a portico with pillars, a porch, and a triangular pediment above. These were often made out of terracotta rather than stone, and none survive intact except for some pieces.


15 Aspects Of Roman Architecture That Changed Civilization

They are listed below, apart from building materials

1) Doric Order:

Doric order is one of the three main orders of classical architecture (the other two being Ionic and Corinthian). It has been used in many different cultures around the globe. In ancient Greece, it was used for temples and public buildings such as theaters and gymnasia.

How were Roman buildings constructed?
How were Roman buildings constructed?

2) Columns:

How were Roman buildings constructed?
How were Roman buildings constructed?

Columns were very important in ancient times because they supported the roof. They also served as decoration on top of the wall or even as part of the floor.

3) Entablature:

How were Roman buildings constructed?

Entablatures are horizontal bands at the top of the column. They support the architrave. Architraves are decorative parts of the entablature.

4) Architrave:

How were Roman buildings constructed?

The Roman buildings architrave is a strong, horizontal beam that supports the weight of the entablature above it. It is the lowest member of the entablature and is often decorated with carved reliefs. The term can also refer to the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of columns.

5) Capital:

Garden wall and gateway to the Manor House, Cold Ashton by Tim Heaton is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Capital is the upper portion of a column. It’s where the statue sits. The Roman building capital, also known as the Doric capital, is a type of column capital that was commonly used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The capital is characterized by its simple, yet elegant design, which consists of a circular base, a shaft, and a square abacus. The Doric capital was one of the most popular column capitals used in ancient times, and was often used in temples and other public buildings.

6) Pediments:

How were Roman buildings constructed?
Claremont – pediment by Ian Capper is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

The Roman period saw a great deal of architectural innovation, and one of the most significant innovations was the pediment. A Roman buildings pediment is a triangular gable that is placed above the columns of a building. It is often decorated with reliefs or sculptures. The Roman period saw a great deal of innovation in terms of architectural decoration, and the pediment was one of the most significant innovations.

7) Roofing:

roman building
Roman Road, Osmington by Colin Smith is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Roofing is the covering of an entire building. It can be flat or curved. The most common type of roofing for Roman buildings was thatch. This is a layer of dried vegetation, such as grass or straw, which is placed on top of the building in order to protect it from the weather.

This type of roofing was used for both homes and public buildings, and was often decorated with geometric patterns or images of animals. Another type of roofing that was used in Roman times was tiles. These were made from fired clay, and were used to cover both the roofs and walls of buildings.

They were often decorated with patterns or images, and were also used to help protect buildings from the weather.

8) Vaulted Ceiling:

Angel Choir vaulting
Vaulted Ceiling

Vaulted ceilings are covered with arches that create a dome shape. The Roman buildings Vaulted Ceiling is an architectural wonder that has withstood the test of time. This incredible feat of engineering is a must-see for any fan of architecture. The Vaulted Ceiling is a true testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Roman builders.

9) Dome:

Buttercross, Swaffham
roman building Dome

A dome is an architectural element that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Domes originated in Mesopotamia and Persia, and spread to the Roman Empire through the influence of architecture from the East. Roman buildings were some of the first to incorporate domes into their design, and the dome became a key element of Roman architecture. Roman domes are characterized by their use of concrete and brick, and their ribbed and coffered construction. Domes were used to cover large open spaces in temples, public baths, and other public buildings, and their use helped to create the grand, monumental aesthetic of Roman architecture.


famous church of sent anthony of padua against bright sky
Roman building podium

A podium is a raised platform used to give a speech, exhibition, or performance. The word “podium” comes from the Greek word πόδι (podion), meaning “foot”. A podium is also used to support a table or other surface for displaying items.
A Roman building podium is a raised platform on which a building is constructed. The word “podium” is derived from the Latin word podium, meaning “foot”. The podium was a common feature of ancient Roman architecture, used to support a variety of structures, including temples, basilicas, and triumphal arches.
Podiums were often decorated with reliefs or statues, and were used to create a sense of grandeur and monumentality. In some cases, a podium was used to elevate a building above the level of the surrounding terrain.

11) Acroterion:

photo of statue during daytime

An acroterion or akroteria (plural: acroteria, akroteria) is an architectural ornament placed on a flat base on the apex of a pediment. In classical architecture the acroterion takes the form of a statue, painted or carved, which may be of great antiquity, such as the Sphinx of Naxos.
In Roman architecture, the acroteria are a common decorative element. They take a variety of forms, such as vases, weapons, or statuary, and are usually placed at the corners of the pediment. Occasionally, a single acroterion is placed in the center of the pediment.

12) Stoa:

brown and black walkway
A stoa was a covered walkway

A stoa was a covered walkway or portico in ancient Greek architecture. Stoas usually surrounded the marketplaces or agoras of Greek cities and were used as a place for merchants and other people to sell their goods. They were also used as public meeting places and as places to store goods. Stoas usually had columns on the front and back and were open on the sides.

13) Hypaethral:

hypaethral Roman building

A hypaethral Roman building is one without a roof, allowing air and light to enter freely. This was a common design feature in temples, where the open space allowed worshippers to feel closer to the gods. The most famous example of a hypaethral building is the Pantheon in Rome, which is still standing today.

14) Propylaea:

The Acropolis from the West, with the Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike, Athens

Propylaeas are monumental gates that lead into the city. In the Athenian Acropolis, the Propylaea is a monumental gateway. It was conceived as a grand entrance to the Acropolis and is still one of the most impressive buildings on the site. The Propylaea was constructed between 437 and 432 BCE, and is a prime example of the Doric order. It is composed of a central building with two wings on either side, and was designed by the architect Mnesicles. The Propylaea is a significant structure not only for its architectural prowess, but also for its historical and cultural importance.

15) Erechtheion:

a view of the erechtheion
Roman buildings Erechtheion

Erechtheion is the name of a building in Athens, Greece. It was built between 447 and 432 BC by Pericles as part of his project to beautify the Acropolis. The Erechtheum is one of the four Ionic temples on the Acropolis.

The Erechtheion is located at the highest point of the Acropolis, where it overlooks the Agora 

By the 19th century, the Romans built their structures by using the arch, which is a structural element that supports loads in tension and compression. The Romans used this method of construction for many different types of building including bridges, aqueducts, arches, domes, vaults, and walls.

The Romans built their structures using a technique called “opus caementicium” (literally, cement work). This involved the use of concrete and mortar to bind together stones or bricks into a solid structure. The Romans used this technique extensively in building roads, aqueducts, bridges, temples, etc. It was also used for fortifications.

 Famous Buildings from Ancient Rome.

Ancient Rome can seem like such an incredibly distant time and culture, but this far-reaching civilization had many aspects to it that influenced later civilizations. In this article, we take a look at how the early Romans built their famous structures and the influences may be found around our building projects like big structures, government building/public buildings, great houses and even smaller structures.

The Roman Empire was the first civilization to use concrete, and it is still used today in many buildings around the world. The Romans were also known for their engineering feats, such as aqueducts, bridges, roads, and tunnels. They built some of the most beautiful structures ever seen, including the Pantheon, Colosseum, Coliseum, Circus Maximus, and Forum.

Apollodorus was an ancient Greek architect who lived during the 2nd century CE. He designed buildings in Rome, which were later destroyed by fire. His work included temples, theaters, baths, and other public works. He was one of the few architects who worked outside Greece.

He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, where he learned his trade under Apollonius of Rhodes. After working in Athens,  he moved to Rome (2nd century CE), where he designed several important buildings. He died at age 70.

His best-known project was the Temple of Artemis (Artemisium) on Ephesus, Turkey. It was dedicated to the goddess Diana, whose cult originated in Ephesus. The temple was built between 190 and 168 BCE. It is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Temple of Artemis was built on a hilltop overlooking the Aegean Sea. It consisted of three parts: the cella or shrine; the pronaos, or porch; and the opisthodomos, or portico. The cella was surrounded by a colonnade that supported a triangular pediment. The roof was covered with gilded bronze tiles.

Roman architecture covers the period from the establishment of the Roman Republic in 509 BC to about the 4th century AD, after which it becomes reclassified as Late Antique or Byzantine architecture.

Let’s find answers to these questions…

How are Rome’s monuments still standing?

The Colosseum, the Pantheon and other ancient buildings in Italy have stood for centuries. But how do they manage to survive so long?

Rome’s ancient city is home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks – from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum – but many of these structures were built over 2,000 years ago. How did they last so long?

Roman architecture has been called ‘imperialistic’ because its design and construction incorporated elements from all over the empire. 

Like The Erechtheion, the Parthenon, the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, the Maison Carrée, the Arch of Constantine, the Basilica Ulpia, the Curia Julia, the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina, the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, the Temple of Concord, the Temple of Hercules Victor, the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia, the Temple of Janus Quadrifrons, and so on.

Roman concrete structures and marble building were built next to each other in Rome, showing that the Romans valued both the historical architecture of the Mediterranean and their own innovations.

Building With Stones

Stone has been used for thousands of years. It is durable and resistant to weather damage and termites. However, stones don’t come pre-hewn. They have to be quarried and cut down to size.

It took huge amounts of manpower to quarry and transport the stones to the site.

In addition, the cost of transporting huge stones is quite high. This made it expensive to construct large structures.

That’s why larger structures, such as temples, churches, skyscrapers, and monuments were made using concrete instead of stone. Concrete is much lighter than stone and easier to move.


Most major civilizations built their cities near rivers and lakes. Rivers provided water for drinking and irrigation, while lakes provided fresh water for fish farming.

However, finding suitable locations for quarries proved challenging. Quarries must be located far away from residential areas. Otherwise, they would attract unwanted attention from neighbors.

So, ancient societies had to resort to taking over existing land — sometimes forcefully — to establish quarries.

Construction Methods

Since most stone structures were enormous, heavy, and difficult to transport, workers had to devise methods that could lift the massive stones without breaking them.

They developed unique lifting methods that still exist today. For example, cranes lifted blocks and placed them vertically on top of each other. They later added wooden beams and other supports underneath the layers of stones, making the entire structure stronger.

These methods allowed Romans to build monumental structures, such as Hadrian’s Wall.

Materials Used

As mentioned above, stone was the material of choice for constructing large buildings. But, engineers didn’t stop there. They devised ways to strengthen stone structures even further with metal braces. Engineers realized that stone doesn’t hold up very well against natural disasters. For instance, earthquakes shake a building loose, causing cracks in the wall and damage to the foundation.

Therefore, engineers created iron frames inside the stone walls to stabilize the walls and prevent damage due to earthquakes and floods.

We can see the effects of this approach today. If you visit Rome, you will notice the thick cement foundations that support tall towers. These are actually the remains of the original stone walls.

The Romans had many types of temple dedicated to different gods. Here are some examples…

Colossus Temples

These were usually located next to major marketplaces, and they served multiple functions. They contained shops, markets, warehouses, apartments, libraries, baths, and workshops. Some Colossus Temples were open all day, and they attracted crowds of shoppers. Others were closed at night, and they were reserved for special religious ceremonies.


This was the largest arena in Ancient Rome. It measured about 600 metres long, 300 metres wide, and 50 metres high. It hosted gladiatorial contests, animal fights, political rallies, and boxing matches. It also housed animals that the spectators could see in person.

Palace of Tiberius

Tiberius Augustus ruled over 37 BC until his death in 14 AD. His family continued to rule the empire for the following three centuries. This palace was the home of Tiberius’ son Drusus and granddaughter Julia Antonia Minor. During World War II, the Nazis destroyed the palace and turned it into rubble.


This Greek-style temple stands opposite St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It was originally known as the Pantheon, but the word ‘panteon’ (all) was removed in 1550. The name came back when Napoleon ordered that the church be dedicated to God. The temple contains Corinthian columns, gilded statues, and frescoes depicting scenes from mythology.

Temple of Venus Genetrix

This was one of two temples built by Agrippa. It was dedicated to the goddess Juno Moneta, Jupiter’s wife. Juno, a virgin goddess, gave birth to the god Mercury. She also bore Hercules, Romulus, Aeneas, and Anchises, and she nursed them. Her symbol was a phoenix rising from flames.

Temple of Vesta

Vesta was the goddess of hearth and home. She was the daughter of Saturn, and she was married to Vulcan. Her symbols were fire and a torch. Her temple stood near the Forum Boarium, where cattle traders met.

Temple of Castor and Pollux

This temple was dedicated to Castor and Pollux, twin sons of Zeus. They fought against the giants, and they killed them. Their father rewarded them with horses and golden armour.

Temple of Fortuna Virilis

Fortuna Virilis was the goddess of luck and prosperity. She was the sister of Ceres, and her symbols were cornucopia and a wheel. Her temple stood close to the Circus Maximus, where chariot races took place

Temple of Portunus

Some of the oldest surviving temples includes the temple of Hercules Victor (mid 2nd century BC) and Temple of Portunus (120-80 BC) and Both standing within the forum Boarium

Temple of Jupiter

The Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, begun in the late 6th century B.C.E., bears all the hallmarks of Etruscan architecture. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus



When ancient Romans wanted to erect large, sturdy buildings, they relied heavily on stone. However, they invented innovative ways to solve challenges associated with building with stone.

Today, we continue to rely on stone structures, but we’re better equipped to deal with problems that arise. Today’s technology allows us to build taller, stronger structures that last longer.

Nowadays, we still build with stone, but we use modern engineering principles to optimize the use of resources and minimize environmental impact. We’ve learned to live with nature rather than fighting with her.

From the largest skyscraper to the smallest temple, stone structures continue to stand firm and provide shelter for generations of people.

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