Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
...................... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary




A supporting pillar consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft, and a

Latin: "columna" - a post

Column vs. post: post lacks the essential qualities of a column: base, shaft and capital

Columns are found in virtually all styles of architecture.

Many features that we associate with ancient columns are artistic interpretations of earlier plant and wooden structural elements. See  Frank E. Wallis, Greek Architecture and American Buildings,1910 book excerpt

In cemeteries, a broken column represents life cut off.



Shafts: The shaft, which rests upon the base, is a long, narrow, vertical cylinder that in some orders is articulated with fluting (vertical grooves).  IN GENERAL, GREEK COLUMNS HAVE FLUTED SHAFTS; ROMAN COLUMNS HAVE SMOOTH SHAFTS.

World's first columns, Saqqara Necropolis, Egypt


Temple of Concordia site, Agrigento, Sicily
Photo 2002 Chuck LaChiusa

Whilst some stone columns were carved in one piece, as [Greek] buildings became bigger, columns began to be constructed from separate drums. These were individually carved and fitted together using a wooden dowel or metal peg in the centre of the drum.

Columns made from individual drums are remarkably resistant to seismic activity. ...  Despite this advantage though, the Romans preferred single monolithic shafts for their columns.  - Ancient Hisotry Encyclopedia: Column   (online March 2020)

See also:  Drum

Styles of Classical columns:

Queen Anne column:  sometimes used instead of a Classical column on Queen Anne style porticos.  Example

Colonnade: A series of columns in a straight line carrying an entablature

Arcade: A series of arches supported by pillars, piers or columns;  a roofed passageway or lane, especially one with shops on either side

Classical two-story columns are found in Beaux Arts Classical, Greek Revival, Neoclassical styles

Classical one-story columns are found in Italianate, Beaux Arts Classical, Greek Revival, Neoclassical Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Italian Renaissance Revival styles

Tetrastyle - four columns

Hexastyle - six columns

Octostyle - eight columns

Decastyle - ten columns

Palladio's Drawings of the Five Classical Orders

Click on drawing for larger size

Source: Dover Books

See also: Vitruvius Pollio on Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Orders  (The Greeks were first to declare that architecture was based on the proportions and form of the human body.)

See also: Banded column ....Caryatid ....... Clustered column ...........Colonnade........ Engaged column ........  Egyptian columns   ........ Hypostyle ...... Loggia ...... Peristyle..... ... Pilaster ....... Portico .......Twisted column


An upright member which is taller than it is thick, and serves as a support for something resting on its top.

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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