Roman architecture is still as amazing today as it was thousands of years ago, and there are many famous monuments whose buildings were inspired by Roman civilization. Since the fall of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, classical architecture has continued to inspire architectural design and styles throughout the ages.
Beginning with the Renaissance, many architectural styles emerged that borrowed heavily from classical styles. These new styles would also be exported outside of Europe as their influence spread throughout the world.
Architectural styles given to us by the Roman Empire and influenced a number of Famous monuments
Below are some of the most notable architectural styles inspired by ancient Roman, Greek, and Byzantine examples. These examples are far from exhaustive and are in no particular order.
Romanesque architecture became popular in Europe in the middle of the 11th century. Essentially a fusion of Roman, Carolingian, Byzantine, and Germanic traditions, it was largely a product of the great expansion of European monasticism in the 10th and 11th centuries.
It has been considered the first truly “European” architectural style and arose out of the need for larger churches to accommodate the increasing numbers of monks, priests, and pilgrims who came to view the relics of saints. Vaulting replaced wooden construction to prevent devastating fires.
Neoclassical architecture is the style that dominated the famous monuments list.
Neoclassicism was spawned by the Neoclassical movement in the mid-18th century. Partly as a reaction to the naturalistic and flamboyant Baroque and Rococo styles that preceded it. She sought inspiration from the classical era and was mainly influenced by antique forms of Greek and Roman architecture.
It was more common around the 1850s, but to this day, it is one of the most common styles of government buildings in the world.
Romanesque Revival architecture
Romanesque Revival is a building style that became popular in the mid-19th century. It drew influence from earlier medieval Romanesque architecture, hence its name.
In contrast to the previous Roman influences. Revival forms tend to feature arches and simpler windows.
Palladian is an architectural style inspired by the works of the Venetian architect Andre Palladio (1508–1588). Palladio was strongly influenced by the classical forms of ancient Greece and Rome.
What is known today as Palladian architecture is an evolution of his work. It continued to be developed by architects throughout the 18th century. It first became popular in Britain but soon spread throughout Europe.
With that in mind, let us now take a short tour of famous Roman-inspired monuments around the world.
Famous monuments list start with Buckingham Palace (East Wing), London
Buckingham Palace, as one of the famous monuments and relics known today, is a mixture of different building styles added to the original house built in 1703. The largest phase of construction was carried out by architects John Nash and Edward Blore during the 19th century. This consists of building three wings around a central courtyard.
Buckingham Palace became the official residence of the British monarch in London in 1837.
The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This included the eastern elevation, which enclosed the courtyard, and the famous balcony where members of the royal family would gather to greet crowds.
This wing underwent remodeling work in 1913 by architect Sir Aston Webb to its present form.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa
The tower is the campanile (free-standing bell tower) of the adjacent Pisa Cathedral. Although it is one of the famous monuments for its leaning tower, it is a fine example of late Romanesque Italianate architecture.
It was designed by Bonanno Pisano, and the ground was broken in 1173. The tower would be constructed in three stages over 199 years until its completion in 1372.
The tower’s tilt began as soon as construction reached the third floor and began a battle of wits with gravity that will continue to this day.
The tower’s foundation, which is only 9 feet (3 m) deep, was built on thick clay that impacted the soil and was not strong enough to hold the tower upright. As a result, the weight of the tower began to shift downward until it found its weakest point.
Galileo Galilei supposedly used the tower in some of his experiments with gravity.
London Natural History Museum, London
Style: Romanesque Revival
Built-in a distinctive Romanesque Revival style, the Natural History Museum in London is a magnificent building and one of the famous monuments. It was originally designed by civil engineer Francis Foucey, who won an 1864 competition to design the building. When Focke died soon after, the planner was taken over by Alfred Waterhouse, who revised the agreed plans and redesigned the facades in a Romanesque style inspired by his frequent visits to the continent.
Both men made extensive use of Roman-inspired porticoes (a series of arches supported by columns, piers, or pilasters) and architectural sculpture, not to mention columns.
Construction began in 1873 and was completed seven years later, in 1880. Waterhouse’s modifications included terracotta tiles to combat the quiet atmosphere of Victorian London.
Today, the museum is one of Britain’s most beloved examples of Roman-inspired buildings and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and should be on your to-visit list for famous monuments.
The White Tower in the Tower of London, London
The White Tower of the Tower of London is another British example of design inspired by Roman architecture. It is a historic Norman castle (donjon) built in several stages from the 11th to the 14th centuries.
The Norman invaders soon began to make their mark in Britain with their own Romanesque style. It is sometimes referred to as Norman Romanesque. The Tower of London, specifically the White Tower, would be one of their greatest works.
Construction began in the early 1900s, and it was originally used to provide accommodation for the king and his entourage but was also used as a private church. The Church of St. John in the Tower contains fine examples of a Roman round arch.
Henry III later ordered it to be whitewashed in 1240.
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate is a fine 18th-century example of neoclassical architecture, built by the Prussian King Frederick William II. It was commissioned to celebrate the conclusion of the Batavian Revolt.
Today, it is one of Germany’s most famous landmarks and one of the finest triumphal arches in the world. It was built on the site of the former city gate that marked the beginning of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel.
Construction began in 1788 and ended in 1791. The entire structure was designed by architect Karl Gotthard Langhans.
Since its construction, the gate has been the site of major historical events in Germany. It is now considered a symbol of the turbulent history of both Europe and Germany.
Smithsonian Institution Building, Washington, D.C
Style: Romanesque Revival
The Smithsonian Institution building was completed in 1855 and was built of Seneca red sandstone in a pseudo-Norman style. It is a mixture of Romanesque Revival and Gothic styles.
This was James Renwick Jr.’s winning entry in an 1846 national competition for his design. It was originally supposed to be built with white marble, then with yellow sandstone, but the designers and building committee finally settled on Seneca sandstone.
The change in materials was due to it being less expensive than marble and very easy to work with.
It underwent a general renovation in the late 1960s to install modern electricity, elevators, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Today, the building houses the administrative offices of the Smithsonian Institution.
Galata Tower, Istanbul
Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower in Istanbul. It is located north of the Golden Horn intersection with the Bosphorus Strait.
It is one of the most famous landmarks of this ancient city and a very popular tourist attraction. The tower is nine stories tall, with a total height of 66.9 meters.
At the time of its construction in the 14th century, it was the tallest building in the city. It was built in the Romanesque style and was constructed during the expansion of the Genoese colony of Constantinople.
Although the name of the original architect is lost to history, it was repaired by the Ottoman architect Hayerden in 1509 after severe damage from an earthquake.
When the Ottomans captured the city, the tower was modified to serve as a watchtower to detect fires in the city. Today, there is a restaurant and café on the upper floors that offer unparalleled views of the city and the Bosphorus River.
Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is a church in the city’s Christian quarter, built on the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial and it is one of the most interesting sites out of the famous monuments. Although the church can trace its origins back to the 4th century AD, it has a long history.
It was burned by the Persians in 614, restored by Modestus around 620, destroyed by Caliph Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah around 1009, and restored by Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX in the mid-11th century.
Since that time, frequent repairs, restorations, and redesigns have been necessary. The present church dates mainly from 1810.
Today, it remains a major place of pilgrimage for Christians around the world.
New York Stock Exchange, 18 Broad Street, New York
The New York Stock Exchange is by far the largest in the world. As of August 2019, the total market cap was approximately $39.3 trillion.
The main building, 11 Wall Street, was officially recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1978. This building opened for business in 1903 and was designed by architects True Bridge, Living Stone, and George P. Post.
Marble Arch, London
Style: Roman Empire/Neoclassical style
Marble Arch is a 19th-century neoclassical triumphal arch located in London, England. Like many other Romanesque-inspired buildings in London, it was designed and erected by architect John Nash, although it was not as large as originally planned due to cost considerations.
The arch was completed in 1827 and was designed as a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars and a gateway to the expanding Buckingham Palace. Construction stopped temporarily between 1830 and 1832 and was completed in 1833. In 1851, it was moved to its current location.
Widening works on Park Lane in the 1960s resulted in the arch being isolated on a traffic island at the junction with Oxford Street.
John Nash based his design for the Marble Arch on the exquisitely preserved Arch of Constantine in Rome. The structure is dressed in Carrara marble quarried near Seravazza in Tuscany.
California State Capitol Building, Sacramento
The California State Capitol houses the bicameral state legislature and the California Governor’s Office. It is located in Sacramento and is a wonderful example of neoclassical architecture.
Designed by architect M. Frederick Butler, it was built between 1860 and 1874. The design of the building is based on the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and the California Historic Landmarks Register in 1974.
St Paul’s Cathedral, London
Style: Neoclassical/English Baroque
St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed by the great architect Sir Christopher Wren and has a long history. The original church on the site was founded in 604 AD, and the current cathedral dates from the late 17th century.
The construction of the cathedral was part of London’s major rebuilding program after the devastation caused by the Great Fire of London and was completed in 1708.
Today, it is one of the most iconic and famous buildings in the world and a must-see tourist attraction in London. The Dome, the building’s most prominent feature, has dominated the London skyline for more than 300 years.
Although a remarkable building in its own right, it was seared into the British psyche during World War II, when it narrowly survived a blitz. Famous images of her standing defiantly out of the smoke and fire surrounding her would symbolize Britain’s resistance to the Nazi war machine.
British Museum, London
The main center of the British Museum was designed by architect Sir Robert Smirke in 1823. It consists of a quadrangle with four wings in each of the four cardinal compass point directions.
The building was finally completed in 1852 and now houses galleries of classical sculpture and Assyrian antiquities. Smirk was strongly influenced by classical antiquity including Roman architecture.
Today it is a popular tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, attracting millions of visitors annually. The United Kingdom contains a lot of famous monuments that you should be sure to pay a visit to.
The Pantheon in Paris is a Romanesque-inspired building in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve but now functions as a secular shrine.
It is often cited as a fine example of neoclassical architecture and is ostensibly modeled on the Pantheon in Rome. Construction began in 1758 and was completed in 1790.
It was designed by architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot and is famous for containing a Foucault pendulum.
Style: Neoclassical / Neo-Baroque
The Reichstag, officially the German Bundestag, is an iconic monument in Berlin, Germany. It was designed by Paul Wallot and built between 1884 and 1894.
The building was initially intended to house the German Parliament (Bundestag), a purpose it served until 1933 when it was severely damaged during the infamous Reichstag fire. After the end of World War II, the building was abandoned.
The ruins were made safe in the 1960s and were only fully restored in the early 1990s after German reunification.
Arc de Triomphe, Paris
The Arc de Triomphe is probably the most famous Arc de Triomphe in the world and one of the most recognizable landmarks in Paris. It is located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, in the middle of Place Charles de Gaulle.
It was built to honor those who fought and died during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The names of prominent French victories and generals are inscribed on its interior and exterior surfaces. After the end of World War I, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to its vaults.
The design of the arch embodies neoclassical design and was originally the work of architects Jean Chalgron and Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury. It was directly inspired by the Triumphal Arch of Titus in Rome.
It was commissioned in 1806 and opened in 1836. The Arc de Triomphe was the tallest triumphal arch in the world until the completion of the Revolutionary Monument in Mexico City in 1938.
US Supreme Court, Washington, DC.
The U.S. Supreme Court building was designed by Cass Gilbert and built between 1932 and 1935. The need for a separate headquarters was successfully argued by President Just William Howard Tuff in 1929.
Before that, the court shared a residence in the Capitol Building until 1935. The final building was completed for $94,000 under its budget of $9,740,000 ($136 million today).
Cass Gilbert decided to design the building in the Neoclassical style with public facades made of Vermont marble.
Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki
Helsinki Cathedral was built between 1830 and 1852 in honor of the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was known as St. Nicholas Church until Finland gained independence in 1917.
The original design was created by architect Carl Ludwig Engel, with revisions later made by Ernst Luhrmann.
Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Helsinki. It is estimated that about 350,000 people visit it every year. It holds regular services as well as special events such as weddings.
Horse yards, London
The Horse Guards is one of London’s most famous historic buildings. Construction began in 1750, and the building was completed in 1759.
It was originally built as barracks and stables for the British Cavalry, but later became an important military headquarters for the British Army.
The Horse Guards originally served as the entrance to the Palace of Whitehall, later St. James’s Palace. For this reason, members of the Queen’s Royal Guard (the Queen’s Life Guard) still ceremonially defend her.
It was designed by William Kent, John Vardy, and William Robinson and was inspired by the elegant Palladian style of the time.
Altar of the Fatherland, Rome
The Altar of the Fatherland (“Altar of the Fatherland”), also known as the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, is a monumental structure erected to honor the first king of the newly unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel. The monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885.
The final structure was opened in 1911 and completed in 1925. It was built in the neoclassical style and features Corinthian columns, fountains, equestrian statues of Victor Emmanuel, and statues of the goddess Victoria riding four-wheeled chariots.
The massive size of the monument has had its fair share of criticism for both its clarity, size, and strange design. Its construction also destroyed large parts of the ancient Roman Capitoline Hill.
The White House, Washington, D.C
Next, the list of buildings influenced by Roman architecture takes us back to the United States.
James Hoban designed the White House in the neoclassical style. Construction began in 1792, and President John Adams and his wife Abigail moved into the unfinished house in 1800.
During the disastrous War of 1812, British soldiers captured Washington and set fire to the headquarters.
This act destroyed the entire interior and damaged the exterior of the original building. Rebuilding and renovation work began immediately and was partially completed in 1817.
The south porch was built in 1824, and Andrew Jackson oversaw the addition of the north porch in 1829.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt began a major renovation, including the construction of the West Wing. Roosevelt’s successor, President William Howard Taft, built the Oval Office within an expanded office wing.
Less than fifty years later, the White House was showing signs of serious structural weakness. President Harry S. Truman renovated the building, in which everything was dismantled except the exterior walls. Architect Lorenzo Winslow supervised the reconstruction, and it was completed in 1952.
Union Station, Washington, D.C
Style: Mixed but mainly Neoclassic/fine arts
One of the first major railway stations in the United States was Union Station in Washington, D.C. It is another building partly inspired by the great architecture of the Roman Empire. Famed architect Daniel Burnham designed it and officially opened its doors in 1907, but was not fully completed until 1908.
The station reached its peak in the 1940s when it flourished as a transportation hub serving upwards of 42,000 passengers daily. This rise took a huge toll on the building, and repairs were often done cheaply, diminishing the building’s aesthetics over time.
The rise of the personal automobile greatly affected the building’s utility, and in the 1950s, the owners began looking for alternative uses for the historic building.
Union Station was officially designated a historic landmark in 1964 and was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. Also in the 1960s, the federal government took over and converted it for use as a national visitor center.
Union Station Redevelopment Act
Unfortunately, like many publicly managed projects, the conversion suffered from a lack of funding, poor design, and a failure to keep up with changing tastes. The project was deemed a failure shortly after its official opening in the mid-1970s.
This proud building reached its lowest point in the early 1980s, when bad weather caused further damage to the already weak roof, causing it to collapse in places. The building has been duly sealed and is undergoing repair work.
This led to the passage of the Union Station Redevelopment Act in 1981, which promised to rehabilitate the building and protect it for future prosperity. The works were finally completed in 1988, and today it returns as one of the busiest railway hubs and mixed-use buildings in the country.
Since then, the building has undergone further renovation and expansion work.
Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C
Style: Neoclassical Revival/Classic
Yet another famous modern building inspired by the architecture of the Romans is the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.
Built between the late 1930s and the mid-1940s, the building was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1943.
The building was then constructed in the neoclassical style and is located in West Potomac Park on the shore of the Potomac River. The memorial stands in line with the White House and was designed by architect John Russell Pope.
The famous bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, created by Rudolph Evans, was added much later, in 1947. For any student of architecture, the overall shape of the monument is very reminiscent of the Roman Pantheon and was partly an homage to Jefferson’s design for the rotunda at the University of Virginia.
The building itself is a circular, open-air structure featuring a shallow dome supported by 26 ionic columns. 12 additional columns are supporting the north portico and 4 columns stand in each of the monument’s openings.
The main exterior is built of Imperial Danby marble sourced from Vermont and rests on a series of granite and marble terraces. Internally, the monument is lined with Georgia white marble with an axis finish and floored with Tennessee pink marble.
Today, the building is managed by the National Park Service, and in 2007, the building was ranked fourth on the list of “America’s Favorite Architecture” by the American Institute of Architects.
Federal Hall, New York
Style: Neoclassical / Greek Revival
Finally, another building inspired by the architecture of ancient Rome is Federal Hall in New York. Located in the heart of the equally famous Wall Street, the site is two separate buildings: the original building completed in 1703 (and later demolished) and the more modern building completed in 1842 as a customs house.
While, technically, the original 1703 structure was only called “Federal Hall,” both are part of the Federal Hall National Monument, managed by the U.S. National Park Service.
The original structure initially served as New York City Hall and was the site where the Colonial Stamp Act Congress met to draft its historic letter to King George III. The letter was written regarding American residents being entitled to the same rights as British residents under the famous “No Taxation Without Representation” protest.
After the turbulent events of the American Revolutionary Wars
After the turbulent events of the American Revolutionary Wars, the First Congress of the Union met for the first time in 1785. It also hosted the first offices of the Supreme Court and the executive branch of the United States of America.
The building’s name was officially changed to Federal Hall after the creation of the United States federal government in 1789. It was also here that George Washington was officially sworn in as the first-ever US president before it was demolished in 1812.
The current surviving building, formerly a customs house, later served as part of the United States Treasury Department.
So there are over 21 famous buildings inspired by Roman architecture. What other buildings or monuments would you like to see on the list?
Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.