Roman town planning is evident at the center of many European cities (although not Rome itself). Like the
Greek Hippodamian plan, the Roman plan was based on a rectangular grid of streets, but with an even more
regular division into four sectors. Two main roads intersected at the center of the town where the forum
was located. A theater was often located near the forum, while public baths would be located further from
the center in each of the four quarters. The town plan is modeled on a typical Roman military camp plan,
the castrum, and it was used in Roman colonies throughout the empire. The castrum had intersecting cross-
streets that divided the settlement into four quadrants. Near the intersection was an open area where the
forum was located. A theater was often located near the forum, while public baths would be located further
from the center in each of the four quarters. Usually a defensive wall would encircle the city. A good
example of a city that developed around the Roman castrum is Florence, Italy. The street grid in the oldest
part north of the Arno follows the Roman roads, and the forum is still seen in the open area called the
Palazzo della Repubblica.
IN LATER PERIODS
The stateliness and regularity of classical architecture appealed to people in many other periods. Even
today, the classical vocabulary is often used to give a sense of stability or tradition to government buildings,
banks, and museum. Several periods had a more widespread interest in classical forms. The most
important periods are the following:
The Italian Renaissance
century). Classical elements are sometimes used
imaginatively especially in the early
The Neoclassical period (late 18th century-19th century). Classical elements often seem “applied”
to buildings in a superficial way. This is sometimes call Historicism, because classical styles appear
alongside others like Gothic, Indian, and Chinese.
Georgian (late 18th—still seen in more recent buildings, especially in the South). A variation of
Neoclassicism, the Georgian style usually has stone or brick buildings with classically detailed trim.
Certain elements like quoins (stones running up a corner of a building) are common.
We will look at some of these periods in greater depth later, but having these labels in hand will help you
make sense of the examples you observe.