Roman Architecture is still as awe-inspiring today as it must have been millennia ago. Since the fall of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, Roman Architecture has continued to inspire architectural design and styles throughout the ages.
Since the fall of the Roman Empire, various architectural styles have sprung up that borrowed heavily from the surviving Roman buildings throughout Europe. These new styles would also be exported outside of Europe as their influence spread throughout the globe.
The Architectural Styles The Roman Empire Gave Us
Romanesque architecture took Europe by storm during the 9th to the 13th Centuries, more or less. It has been argued that this was, in fact, an earlier phase of Neoclassicism and it is primarily influenced by ancient Roman architecture.
It is known as the first truly "European" style of architecture and borrowed heavily from buildings seen by returning Crusaders.
Neoclassicism was a reaction to the more flamboyant Baroque and Rococo styles that preceded it. It sought out inspiration from the classical era and was mainly influenced by the antique forms of Greek and Roman architecture.
It was most popular around the 1850's but is, to this day, one of the most popular styles of building in the world.
- Romanesque Revival
Romanesque Revival is a style of building that became popular in the mid 1800's. It drew influence from earlier medieval Romanesque architecture, hence the name.
Unlike their earlier Romanesque influences revival forms tend to feature simpler arches and windows.
Palladian is a style of architecture inspired by the works of Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Palladio has heavily influenced the classical forms of Ancient Greece and Rome.
What is recognized as Palladian architecture today is actually an evolution of his work. It continued to be developed by architects throughout the 18th Century. It first became popular in Britain but soon spread throughout Europe.
With that in mind let us now take a short tour of Roman Architecture inspired buildings around the world.
1. Buckingham Palace (Eastern Wing), London
Buckingham Palace, as known today, is an amalgamation of various building phases onto an original townhouse built in 1703. The biggest phase of construction was carried out by architects John Nas and Edward Blore during the 19th Century. These consisted of the construction of three wings around a central courtyard.
Buckingham Palace became the official London residence of the British Monarch in 1837.
The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. These included the East elevation that closed of the courtyard and includes the famous balcony where members of the Royal family congregate to greet crowds.
This wing underwent remodeling work in 1913 by architect Sir Aston Webb to its current form.
2. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa
The tower is actually the campanile (free standing bell tower) of the neighboring Pisa Cathedral. Although it is most famous for its tilt, the tower is actually a great example of late Italian Romanesque architecture.
It was designed by Bonnano Pisano and ground was broke in 1173. Construction of the tower would occur in three stages over 199 years until its completion in 1372.
The tower's tilt began as soon as construction reached the second floor, starting a battle of wits with gravity that would continue to the present day. Galileo Galilei would famously use the tower for some of his experiments and it was used by the allies in WW2 as an observation post.
3. London's Natural History Museum, London
Style: Romanesque revival
Built in an idiosyncratic Romanesque revival style, the Natural History Museum in London is a magnificent building. It was designed by the Architect Francis Fowke during an 1864 competition.
Captain Fowke died soon after. The buildings actual construction was overseen by Alfred Waterhouse, who revised Fowke's designs.
Both men made ample use of Roman-inspired arcadings and architectural sculpture, not to mention columns.
Construction commenced in 1873 and was completed seven years later in 1880. Waterhouse's revisions incorporated the good use of terracotta tiles to resist the sooty atmosphere of Victorian London.
The museum is, today, one of Britain's best-loved examples of Roman Architecture inspired buildings and one of its iconic landmarks.
4. The White Tower at the Tower of London, London
The Tower of London is another British example of Roman Architecture inspired design. It is, in fact, a historic Norman castle keep (donjon) built over several phases from the 11th to 14th Centuries.
The conquering Normans would quickly begin making their mark in Britain with their own take on the Romanesque style, sometimes referred to as Norman Romanesque.
The Tower of London, specifically the White Tower, would be one of their greatest works. Construction began in the early 1080's and it would be extended over time.
It was originally used to provide accommodation for the King and his entourage but also served as a private chapel. The Chapel of St. John in the Tower has superb examples of the rounded Romanesque arch.
Henry the III would later order it to be whitewashed in 1240.
5. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is a fine 18th Century example of neoclassical architecture built by the Prussian King Frederick William II. It was commissioned to celebrate the conclusion of the Batavian Revolution.
Today it is one of Germany's best-known landmarks and one of the finest triumphal arches in the world. It is built on the site of the former city gate that used to mark the start of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel.
Construction began in 1788 and was concluded in 1791. The entire structure was designed by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans.
Since its construction, the gate has been the site of major historical events in Germany. It is now considered, rightfully or wrongly, a symbol of the tumultuous history of both Europe and Germany.
6. The Smithsonian Institution Building, Washington D. C.
Style: Romanesque revival
Completed in 1855, The Smithsonian Institution Building is built in Seneca red sandstone in a faux Norman style. This is a combination of Romanesque Revival and Gothic styles.
It was the winning entry of James Renwick Junior in 1846 nationwide held competition for its design. It was originally meant to be built in white marble and then in yellow sandstone but the designers and building committee finally settled on Seneca sandstone.
The change in materials was due to it being less expensive than marble and very easy to work.
It underwent a general renovation in the late 1960's to install modern electrics, elevators, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Today, the building houses the administrative offices for the Smithsonian.
7. Galata Tower, Istanbul
Galata Tower, Galata Kulesi in Turkish, or the Christea Turris (Tower of Christ by the Genoese) is a medieval stone tower in Istanbul. It is located just to the north of the Golden Horn's junction with the Bosphorus.
It is one of this ancient city's most iconic and striking landmarks and a popular tourist attraction. The Tower is nine-stories tall at a total height of 66.9 meters.
At the time of its construction in 1348, it was the tallest construction in the city. It is built in the Romanesque style and was erected during the expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople.
Although the original Architect's name has been lost to history it was repaired by the Ottoman architect, Hayreddin in 1509 following heavy damage from an earthquake.
When the city was captured by the Ottoman's, the tower was modified as an observation tower for spotting fires in the city. Today it has a restaurant and cafe at its upper levels which provide unparalleled views of the city and river Bosphorus.
8. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is a church in the Christian quarter of the city. Although the church can trace its origins to the 4th Century AD it was refurbished by Crusaders in the Romanesque style in the 12th Century.
The site was originally consecrated in 335 AD but the original construction was demolished and rebuilt in 1048 AD.
This church is said to contain two of the holiest sites in Christendom: The site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and his tomb where he is said to be resurrected.
It would change hands many times throughout the tumultuous history of Jerusalem. Today, it is still a major place of pilgrimage for Christians the world over.
9. The New York Stock Exchange, 18 Broad Street, New York
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is by far the largest stock exchange in the world. As of June 2017 total market capitalization was around $21.3 Trillion.
The main building, 11 Wall Street, was officially recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1978. This building opened for business 1903 and was designed by architects Trowbridge and Livingston and George B. Post.
The exchange was temporarily closed at the beginning of WW1 but partially re-opened in November of 1914 to trade bonds to help with the war effort. It completely re-opened to sell stocks in December of the same year.
The Great Depression is often traced back to the panic selling of October the 24th and 29th of 1929.
10. Marble Arch, London
Marble Arch is an iconic 19th Century Neoclassical triumphal arch located in London, England. Like many other Roman Architecture inspired buildings in London, it was designed and erected by architect John Nash.
The arch was designed in 1827 and was intended to be the state entrance to the cour d'honneur of Buckingham Palace. Construction was paused between 1830 and 1832 and completed in 1833. In 1851 it was moved to its current location.
Widening works of Park Lane in the 1960's has now isolated the arch on a traffic island at the junction of Oxford Street.
John Nash based his design for Marble Arch on the wonderfully preserved Arch of Constantine in Rome. The structure is dressed in Carrara marble quarried near Seravezza in Tuscany.
11. California State Capitol, Sacramento
The California State Capitol houses the bicameral state legislature and the office of the governor of the state of California. It is located in Sacramento and is a fantastic example of Neoclassical architecture.
Designed by architect M. Frederic Butler it was built between 1860 and 1874. The building's design is actually based on the of the Capital building in Washington D. C.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and the Californian Historical Landmark register in 1974.
12. St Pauls Cathedral, London
Style: Neoclassical/English Baroque
Designed by the great architect Sir Christopher Wren, St Pauls Cathedral has a long history. The original church on the site was founded in AD 604 with the current cathedral dating back to the late 17th Century.
The construction of the cathedral was part of the major rebuilding programme of London following the devastation of the Great Fire of London. It was completed in 1675.
Today it one of the most recognized and famous buildings in the world a must-see tourist attraction in London. The building's most prominent feature, the dome, has dominated London's skyline for over 300 years.
Despite being a magnificent building in its own right, it was crystallized into the British psyche during WW2 when it miraculously survived the blitz. Famous images of it standing defiantly from surrounding smoke and fire would come to symbolize Britain's resistance to the Nazi war machine.
13. British Museum, London
The main core of the British Museum was designed by the architect Sir Robert Smirke in 1823. It consists of a quadrangle with four wings at each of the four main compass point directions.
The building was finally completed in 1852 and now includes galleries of classical sculpture and Assyrian antiquities. Smirke was heavily influenced by classical antiquity including Roman Architecture.
Today it is a popular tourist attraction in the UK and attracts millions of visitors a year.
14. Pantheon, Paris
The Pantheon in Paris is a Roman Architecture inspired building in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve but now function as a secular mausoleum.
It is often cited as a fantastic example of neoclassical architecture and is ostensibly modeled on the Roman Pantheon in Rome. Construction began in 1758 and was completed in 1790.
It was designed by architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot and famously contains the Foucault Pendulum.
15. The Reichstag, Berlin
The Reichstag, officially Deutscher Bundestag - Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude, is an iconic edifice in Berlin, Germany. It was designed by Paul Wallot and was built between 1884 and 1894.
The building was initially intended to house the German Diet, a purpose it fulfilled until 1933 when it was severely damaged during the infamous Reichstag Fire. After the conclusion of WW2, the building fell into disuse.
The ruins were made safe in the 1960's and were only fully restored in the early 1990's after German reunification.
16. Arc De Triomphe, Paris
The Arc De Triomphe is probably the world's most famous Triumphal Arch and one of Paris's most iconic landmarks. It stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle.
It was built to honor those who fought and died during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The names of notable French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. After the conclusion of the First World War, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added beneath its vaults.
The arch's design epitomizes Neoclassical design and was the work of architects Jean Chalgrun and Louis-Etienne Hericart de Thury. It was directly inspired by the Roman Triumphal Arch of Titus in Rome.
It was designed in 1806 and inaugurated in 1836. The Arc de Triomphe was the tallest triumphal arch in the world until the completion of the Monumento a la Revolución in Mexico City in 1938.
17. U.S. Supreme Court, Washington D. C.
The U.S. Supreme Court was designed by Cass Gilbert and was built between 1932 and 1935. The need for a separate headquarters was argued for, successfully, by Chief Just William Howard Tuff in 1929.
Prior to this, it shared residence in the Capitol building until 1935. The final building was actually completed $94,000 under its budget of $9,740,000 ($136 Million today).
Cass Gilbert decided to design the building in the Neoclassical style with public facades made from Vermont marble.
18. Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki
Helsinki Cathedral was built between 1830 and 1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas 1 of Russia. It was known as St Nicholas' Church until Finland won its independence in 1917.
The original design was created by architect Carl Ludvig Engel with revisions being made later by Ernst Lohrmann.
Today it is one of Helsinki's most popular tourist attractions. It is estimated that around 350,000 people visit it each year. It holds regular services as well as special events like weddings.
19. Horse Guards, London
Horse Guards is one of the most famous and historic buildings in London. Construction began in 1750 and the building was completed in 1759.
It was originally built as a barracks and stables for the British Household Cavalry but later became an important military headquarters for the British Army.
Horse Guards originally served as the entrance to the Palace of Whitehall, later St James's Palace. It is for this reason that it is still ceremonially defended by the members of Queen's Royal Guard (Queen's Life Guard).
It was designed by William Kent, John Vardy, and William Robinson and was inspired by the fashionable Palladian style at the time.
20. Altare della Patria, Rome
Altare della Patria ("Altar of the Fatherland") is a monument built to honor the first king of the newly unified Italy, Victor Emmanual. The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885.
The final structure was inaugurated in 1911 and construction was completed in 1925. It is built in the neoclassical style and incorporates Corinthian columns, fountains, equestrian statues of Victor Emmanual and statues of the goddess Victoria riding quadrigas.
Its enormous size of the monument has had its fair share of criticism both for its conspicuousness, size, and pompous design. Its construction also destroyed large parts of the ancient Roman Capitoline Hill.
21. The Whitehouse, Washington D. C.
And last, but by no means least, on our list of buildings influenced by Roman Architecture takes us back to the United States.
The Whitehouse was designed by James Hoban in the neoclassical style. Construction commenced in 1792 and was completed in 1800.
The building has served as the official residence and workplace of U.S. Presidents since John Adams in 1800. During the disastrous War of 1812, British soldiers captured Washington and set the residence ablaze.
This act completely gutted the interior and damaged the exterior of the original building. Reconstruction and refurbishment works began immediately and were partially completed in 1817.
Additions were then made to the exterior including the semi-circular South Portico in 1824 and North Portico in 1829.
So there you go, 21 famous buildings inspired by Roman Architecture. What other buildings or monuments would you like to have seen on the list? Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.