What Is a Doric Column?

Greek and Roman Classical Architecture

Twelve marble Doric columns create a small Doric temple memorials to WWI soldiers from DC
Twelve marble Doric columns of the World War I Memorial, 1931, in Washington, DC (larger image). Photo ©Ron Cogswell, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Definition: The Doric column represents one of the five orders of classical architecture and is a defining feature in today's Neoclassical style buildings.

Ancient builders developed several Orders, or rules, for the design and proportion of buildings, including the columns. Doric is one of the earliest and most simple of the Classical Orders set down in ancient Greece.

A Doric column (view illustration) is much plainer than the later Ionic and Corinthian column styles.

A Doric column is also thicker and heavier than an Ionic or Corinthian column. For this reason, the Doric column is sometimes associated with strength and masculinity. Believing that Doric columns could bear the most weight, ancient builders often used them for the lowest level of multi-story buildings, reserving the more slender Ionic and Corinthian columns for the upper levels.

Features of a Doric Column:

  • Originally placed directly on the ground without a pedestal or base
  • Shaft is wider at the bottom
  • Shaft is fluted (grooved)
  • Smooth, round capitals (tops)
  • No carvings or other ornaments

Facts About Doric Columns:

  • Developed in the western Dorian region of Greece in about the 6th century BC
  • Used in Greece until about 100 BC
  • Similar Roman Doric and Tuscan styles emerged in Rome

Architectural Periods and Styles:

  • Classical: In early Greece and Rome, symmetrical rows of columns were placed with mathematical precision. Column styles evolved over several centuries.
  • Neoclassical: In the nineteenth century, many buildings were inspired by the architecture of early Greece and Rome. Neoclassical columns imitate the Classical styles.
  • Antebellum: In the years leading up to America's Civil War, many of the large, elegant plantation were built in the Neoclassical style with classically-inspired columns.

    Architecture Built With Doric Columns:

    • The Parthenon Temple at the Acropolis in Athens: Constructed between 447 BC and 438 BC., the Parthenon Temple at the Acropolis (view detail) has become an international symbol of Greek civilization and an iconic example of the Doric column style.
    • The Temple of Hephaestus in Athens: Another landmark example of Doric design, with columns surrounding the entire building.
    • The Temple of the Delians: This small, quiet space overlooking a harbor also reflects the Doric column design.
    • The Temple of Zeus at Olympia: At Olympia you'll find solitary Doric columns still standing amid the ruins of fallen columns.
    • The Colosseum in Rome: The massive Colosseum has Doric columns on the first level, Ionic columns on the second level, and Corinthian columns on the third level.
    • Basilica Palladiana: Doric columns on the first level, Ionic columns above
    • The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC: Architect Henry Bacon gave the neoclassical Lincoln Memorial imposing Doric columns, suggesting order and unity. The Memorial was built between 1914 and 1922.
    • World War I Memorial in Washington, DC:  Completed in 1931 and restored in 2011, the World War I Memorial is a small, circular monument inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece.
    • Federal Hall Museum and Memorial at 26 Wall Street in New York City. The 19th century architects used Doric columns to recreate the grandeur of the site where the first President of the United States was inaugurated.

    More About Doric Columns:

    Common Misspellings of Doric:

    • dooric, daric, droric, dork, doorik

    Web Resources: