Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

Twisted / spiral column
AKA barley-sugar, salomonica, torso column

A column so shaped as to present a twisted or spiral form

Twisted columns were inspired by those of King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem

Used especially in Baroque architecture.

See also: spiral

Salomónica, ( Spanish: “Solomon-like”) also called barley-sugar column,  in architecture, a twisted column, so called because, at the Apostle’s tomb in Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, there were similar columns, which, according to legend, had been imported from the Temple of Solomon in ancient Jerusalem. When Gian Lorenzo Bernini worked at New St. Peter’s, he echoed the salomónica design in the columns that supported the baldachin, or canopy, over the altar above the tomb.

The structure, similar in appearance to the twisted stalk of a barley-sugar plant, became popular in Romanesque architecture and the type of Spanish Baroque called Churrigueresque. It is among the most notable characteristics of the work of the three architect brothers of the Churriguera family. Followers of this school continued to imitate José Benito Churriguera’s graceful salomónicas, especially those behind the altar of the church of San Esteban in Salamanca, Spain, well into the 18th century.

Encyclopædia Britannica: Salomónica (online March 2015)

Examples from Buffalo architecture:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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