Types of Columns: A Comprehensive Guide to the Different Structural Varieties

Types of Columns

Columns are architectural elements that provide structural support and aesthetic appeal to buildings. They come in different styles, shapes, and materials, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are some common types of columns:

1. Doric Columns

Doric columns are one of the oldest and simplest types of columns in classical Greek architecture. They have a plain, sturdy design with a capital (top part) consisting of a plain, rounded molding called an echinus and a square abacus. Doric columns are characterized by their fluted shafts and lack of a decorative base. They exude a sense of strength and solidity.

2. Ionic Columns

Ionic columns are known for their elegant and slender design. They feature a capital with volutes, spiral scroll-like ornaments on each side. The shaft of an Ionic column is typically fluted, similar to Doric columns, but it rests on a decorative base. Ionic columns are associated with a more graceful and refined aesthetic compared to Doric columns.

3. Corinthian Columns

Corinthian columns are highly ornate and elaborate. They have a capital adorned with intricate acanthus leaf carvings. The shaft is usually fluted, like in Doric and Ionic columns, and rests on a decorative base. Corinthian columns are often associated with grandeur, luxury, and classical beauty.

4. Composite Columns

Composite columns combine elements of both Ionic and Corinthian orders. They feature a capital that combines the volutes of Ionic columns with the acanthus leaf motifs of Corinthian columns. The shaft is usually fluted and sits on a decorative base. Composite columns are often used in Roman architecture, blending the elegance of Ionic and Corinthian styles.

5. Tuscan Columns

Tuscan columns are a simplified version of Doric columns. They have smooth, unfluted shafts and plain, rounded capitals. Tuscan columns lack the elaborate ornamentation and decorative bases found in other column types. They are associated with a more straightforward and utilitarian aesthetic.

6. Romanesque Columns

Romanesque columns are characterized by their sturdy, robust appearance. They often have a thick, cylindrical shape with simple capitals and bases. Romanesque columns can be plain or feature decorative carving or ornamentation. They are commonly found in Romanesque architecture, known for its solid, fortress-like structures.

7. Gothic Columns

Gothic columns are prevalent in Gothic architecture, which is characterized by pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and intricate details. Gothic columns are tall, slender, and often have clustered shafts. They can feature elaborate and delicate tracery patterns, foliage carvings, and other decorative elements. Gothic columns convey a sense of verticality and aspire to reach the heavens.

8. Modern Columns

Modern architecture encompasses a variety of column designs that depart from classical or historical styles. Modern columns can have diverse shapes, materials, and structural forms. They often prioritize functionality, simplicity, and creative expression. Modern column designs may feature sleek lines, unconventional shapes, and innovative materials like steel, concrete, or glass.


Columns are not only structural components but also architectural features that contribute to the overall design and aesthetic of buildings. Whether it’s the timeless simplicity of Doric columns, the gracefulness of Ionic and Corinthian columns, the fusion of styles in Composite columns, or the varied designs of modern architecture, columns play a significant role in shaping the visual character and historical context of architectural structures.