83 votes

Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

Many churches in Europe (not just Germany) were built centuries ago, when the church was by far the most important and prestigious building in any city. Building them took decades, sometimes even ...
  • 12.2k
62 votes
Accepted

Did the Romans leave any technical instruction manuals behind?

The only book to survive from ancient Rome on architecture is Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's De architectura, found by the Renaissance scholar Poggio Bracciolini in 1414 after being largely forgotten. ...
59 votes
Accepted

Why does the Great Wall of China follow such a bendy route?

The Chinese designed the wall to be an effective barrier; that was the goal. To answer your question, we need to ask: what land barrier stopped foreign troops the best? The answer in China, and ...
  • 7,222
48 votes
Accepted

What happened to these buildings near the Seine?

They were not regular construction, but exhibits for the Exposition Universelle (1900), showing different cultures side by side: Each country funded, designed and on occasion constructed their ...
  • 34.3k
48 votes
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Does anyone recognize the identity and location of this octagonal structure?

This was the Tannenberg Memorial, built near the town of Hohenstein, East Prussia (now Olsztynek, Poland). Built in the mid-1920's, it was a monument dedicated to the German soldiers who fought in ...
  • 3,863
46 votes
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How were medieval castles built in swamps or marshes without draining them?

As noted, this type of castle was extremely common. Harburg (Horeburg/near Hamburg), the first castle at Danzig are perhaps the most famous of these. They were most often built along the Northern ...
  • 78.5k
26 votes
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What would the Arch of Titus have looked like painted?

Last year, a team headed by Steve Fine of the Yeshiva University Center for Israeli Studies in New York which had been examining portions of the arch since 2012 announced: High resolution three-...
24 votes

Why are the ceilings so high in older houses?

Smoke. The high ceilings provided somewhere for it to dissipate above mouth and eye level. It's rather hard to imagine how prevalent smoke was before mid-20th century. Not only was tobacco smoking ...
  • 843
24 votes
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Does anyone know what type of structure this is?

This is a roman fountain at Djemila, Algeria (Latin: Cuicul or Curculum). There's a vast amount of literature and web material on Djemila in general (and some on the fountain), for example: The ...
  • 3,316
22 votes
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What murals and decor might have been present in the earliest Sumerian temples?

As a quick note on chronology, "5000+ years ago" would put your setting in the Jemdet Nasr period or earlier (Uruk III–V; yes, archeological periods are numbered backwards). This is around ...
22 votes
Accepted

Seeking floor plan of a classical Roman building with 20 to 30 rooms

There are floor plans both for the House of the Vestals, the House of the Faun in Pompeii, and Fishbourne Palace in England, among others. Unfortunately, many of the floor plans available online do ...
21 votes

Did the Romans leave any technical instruction manuals behind?

While not exactly manuals, some of the architectural instructions survive on the buildings themselves. The Roman temple of Bziza has a wall that bears marks of an architectural sketch on how to ...
  • 731
21 votes

Does anyone recognize the identity and location of this octagonal structure?

This is the Tannenberg Memorial near Hohenstein, East Prussia (now Olsztynek, Poland). This was conceived as a memorial to German Soldiers at the two Battles of Tannenberg, one in 1410 (where Poland-...
  • 3,682
20 votes

Why does the Great Wall of China follow such a bendy route?

The Great Wall of China: It is the longest man-made construction in the world. In the old times, it was of great military importance of preventing the enemies' intrusion and was regarded as the '...
  • 1,904
18 votes

Are there any underground cities known except those found in Cappadocia?

There are a few underground cities that I can think of, some may fit your requirements better than others. If you consider tunneling into rocks, then Petra would be a very large city that was built ...
  • 6,304
17 votes
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What was the original colour of the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheatre)?

According to Rosella Rea, director of the Colosseum, in the restoration from 2013 they found traces of it being brightly painted in red, ochre, blue and green. Dr. Rossella Rea, the Colosseum’s ...
17 votes

Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

The maximum building hights are determined by each city (or as in Berlin possible each City District). In Berlin the first Bebauungsplan (Building Plan) of 1862 regulated standard street widths of ...
  • 7,303
16 votes
Accepted

Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

As DevSolar noted in his answer, churches generally are tall, their spires even higher, but to answer Q Why in most German places is the church the tallest building? it might suffice to say just: ...
  • 78.5k
16 votes
Accepted

Why do the bases of these pillars have grooves in them?

An article in the book Master Builders of Byzantium by Robert Ousterhout discussing the construction of Greek and Roman columns confirmed my suspicions from comments above: So the channel in the ...
  • 34.3k
14 votes
Accepted

What are the highest and biggest half-timbered buildings built during medieval era?

While it is possible for a wooden building to exceed 200 feet (approx. 61 metres) in height (see, for example, Pagoda of Fogong Temple from 1056) there is nothing approaching this height from medieval ...
13 votes

Before iron was common, what did common people use for door hinges?

Apart from leather hinges that were used even when iron was common (but not so common as to be cheap), there existed the different mounting of the door. I have heard about its use from my grandfather, ...
  • 6,966
13 votes

Where in a city would a cathedral be built?

To understand where a cathedral might be placed, it is important to understand the function and history of cathedrals. Note that the history is likely to depend on many different factors, and be ...
  • 76.5k
12 votes

Are there any underground cities known except those found in Cappadocia?

Dating in its origins from the 2 millenium BCE and still inhabited by up to 40 million people today: The first type of yaodong were underground dwellings that date back to the 2nd millennium BC, ...
  • 78.5k
11 votes
Accepted

What is the name of a particular architectural structure from a Gothic Church?

According to "Die Wehrkirchen in Siebenbürgen" by George Oprescu, these are arrow slits ("Schießscharten"). This is a feature that is rare for churches outside of Transsylvania, ...
  • 6,181
10 votes

Are there any underground cities known except those found in Cappadocia?

Nushabad in Iran was apparently used to avoid Mongol invasions (13th Century), but is perhaps older as artefacts from earlier periods have been found within. It is not clear how long people stayed ...
  • 1,116
10 votes
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In Classical Athens, what did the portico of the archon basileus look like?

There's a model of the Stoa Basileios (or Royal Stoa), seat of the archon basileus, at the end of 5th century BC on the site of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). This is ...
9 votes
Accepted

What can you tell about a society from its architecture?

There is a lot to learn about a society from its buildings, especially if you know what they are used for. For example, find the largest and most decorated buildings (not meaning just decoration, but ...
9 votes
Accepted

Did the Eastern Romans also use roman concrete?

The use of concrete did fade after the fall of the western Roman Empire, though at least some aspects of the use of concrete was held over into the Byzantine Architectural style, on some early ...
  • 34.3k
9 votes
Accepted

When and where was the first time moveable bridge?

The most likely early example of a movable bridge (assuming you allow pontoon bridges) allowing a ship to pass either under or through is Xerxes' pontoon bridge from 480 BC and is cited by Herodotus. ...
9 votes

Why there is no Islamic architecture with glass in windows before 18th century?

The Blue Mosque may have had stained glass windows since 1617. Nonetheless, consider the tradition of ventilated buildings in Islamic architecture. Buildings for hot, dry climates often have thick ...
  • 27.3k

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