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Roman Architecture Essay

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When one thinks of Roman architecture, many things come to mind, such as arches, columns, statues, and richly covered surfaces in marbles. One must stop to think that this empire, which gained power and influence in the first century BC, must have been influenced from the thousands of years of cultures preceding them in order to create their masterpieces of ingenuity. This phenomenon can be seen in our borrowing of ideas of ancient Greece and Rome for the construction of our capitol buildings in the United States. The Romans surely considered design principles of other cultures when developing their buildings, since daily conquests of new lands opened Roman soldiers’ eyes to innovations from the great vastness of their empire. This philosophy of intuitive inspirations and design is most notable in the ruins of the Great Canopus and Serapeum of Emperor Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, Italy. With inspirations from the East and Contemporary Rome, Hadrian was able to combine his own knowledge and interest in innovative design to create the most fabulous example of residential architecture that has, arguably, ever existed.
Hadrian was an avid traveller who spent a great deal of his time in the East and in numerous Roman settlements due to military conquests that he embarked on, prior to becoming ruler of the Roman Empire. Upon becoming the successor to Trajan, as Emperor of the Roman Empire, he set his sights on his passion for architecture in the construction of many notable buildings such as the Pantheon in Rome and his wall in Britain. Although a popular ruler, he still was unsatisfied with life and his safety in Rome, and decided to construct a residential complex for himself 24 km outside of Rome in Tibur, now Tivoli, Italy. In constr...


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... be noted in the Greek style colonnade around the lake, which features horizontal and arched lentils in an alternating fashion. This was not seen before in other Roman buildings, since either horizontal or arched openings were used in a series, but not usually mixed. Overall, the villa and Great Canopus feature contemporary (circa 120AD) Roman touches such as opus reticulatem as a wall dressing, and the use of arched openings and barrel vaulting. The use of ruble walls essentially made a huge difference between Hadrian’s Villa and the Greek and Egyptian counterparts from which he borrowed. In essence, due to its construction, the villa was heavily looted for its marble veneers made to resemble blocks of stone seen on Greek temples, but has withstood structurally due to the fact that overtime, Hadrian’s Villa simply cannot topple like a stacked stone structure.




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