Top 7 Most Influential Periods of Architecture in History

Modern architecture has evolved like food and fashion over the past few decades. We take inspiration from the past architectural forms and build modern-day structures. The Egyptians, too, got influenced by the Stone Age. Likewise, the Greeks got influenced by the Egyptians. The timeless elements of modern-day architecture are guided by the most influential periods of architecture. Several types of architecture emerged from ideas and construction techniques, sometimes merging and sometimes inventing new.

Since periods and styles go hand in hand, here we present the top seven influential periods of architecture along with their respective architectural styles.

Period of Classical Architecture

Classical architecture is the umbrella term used to refer to the ancient Greek and Roman building styles. The period which dates between the 7th and 4th century B.C., is known for its symmetry, proportion, and perspective. The three prominent orders followed in classical architecture are Doric, Corinthian and Ionic detailings. In addition, interior moldings and materials such as concrete, marble, and bricks were highly prevalent during this period. This architectural style is still the most referenced of all to influence modern building designs. The Parthenon, a Greek temple in Athens, is a remarkable example of classic architecture.

Period of Romanesque Architecture

The timeline of the Romanesque architectural style is between the 6th to 11th centuries. This medieval architectural style is characterized by towers, sturdy pillars, narrow windows, and decorative arcading. It is a merge of the Roman and Byzantine architectural styles. The Romanesque architecture of England is also referred to as Norman architecture. The driving force behind this architectural style is believed to be Christianity. Therefore, several churches, cathedrals, and castles were built during this era. Some significant characteristics of Romanesque architectural style are massive buildings with vaulted roofs, thick walls, and semi-circular arches. Some examples of architecture of this period are the Basilica of St. Sernin in Toulouse, France, and the Santiago De Compostela Cathedral in Spain.

Period of Gothic Architecture

The late 12th-century architectural style was previously known as Opus Francigenum, which means ‘French work.’ It was influenced by Romanesque architecture and emerged in France between the years 900 and 1300. The significant characteristics of Gothic architecture are the pointed arches, cruciform layouts, stained glass windows, flying buttresses, and ribbed vaulted ceilings. Some prominent examples of buildings built in the Gothic period are the Notre Dame in Paris, Salisbury Cathedral in England, and St, Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

Period of Renaissance Architecture

Renaissance architecture emerged in various parts of Europe in the early 15th century. It adopted the significant features of Roman and Greek architecture. Symmetrical and square plans of buildings characterize the Renaissance architectural style. The architects during this period focused on geometry, proportion, and perfection while planning the structures. The significant features of Renaissance architecture are semi-circular domes, orderly arrangement of columns, vaulted ceilings, and floors of stones. The most prominent architect of this era is Filippo Brunelleschi, who built the astounding Florence Cathedral. The beautifully proportioned architecture of the Renaissance period still inspires architects in modern times.

Period of Baroque Architecture

Renaissance architecture merged with playfulness and decoration gave rise to a Baroque architecture in the 17th century. The architects embraced aspects like the domes and colonnades from the Renaissance architectural style. These elements were made more decorative and were added to the baroque architecture. The significant characteristics of the architecture during this period exemplify irregular shapes, luxuriant paintings, bold contrasts, and ornamentations. Features like central towers, domes, colonnades, and decorated interiors are prominent in Baroque architecture. Some outstanding examples of the Baroque style are St. Paul’s Cathedral in England and Louver Museum in Paris.

Period of Neoclassical Architecture

The Neoclassical form of architecture draws inspiration from the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. The Palladian style of architecture also influences it. Some critical elements of the Neoclassical style are the massive buildings with free-standing columns, triangular pediments, and balustraded balconies. This architectural form is seen in Europe, Great Britain, and the United States. Some well-known examples of Neoclassical architecture are the Belvedere Palace in Vienna and The White House in Washington, USA.

Period of Art-Deco Styles

The Art-Deco movement in the 1920s and 1930s gave rise to the industrial art form that became widespread throughout the U.S. and Europe. The Art-Deco period saw the transformation of traditional architecture into a more modernized version. The use of terracotta, decorative glasses, steel, aluminum, and ceramics was prevalent during this time. Significant characteristics of Art-Deco architectural style include sculptured panels, use of geometric shapes in ornate detailing, and stepped gables. This transitional era saw the creation of some astonishing structures like Champs-Elysees by Auguste Perret and the Empire State Building.


When analyzing the ancient world, one of the first things that come to mind is architectural evolution. The bygone era gave birth to magnificent forms of architecture. The architectural development has experienced varied landscapes and cultures to improve over the years progressively. Here we have listed down the seven most influential periods and styles of architecture that still inspire modern-day architects.