1. Home

Discuss in my forum

What Is a Solomonic Column?

By

Solomonic columns at the Basilica of St. Paul cloister

Cosmatesque style mosaics decorate twisted Solomonic columns at the Basilica of St. Paul cloister in Rome, Italy.

Photo © Massimo Merlini / iStockphoto Twisted, spiral columns rise to the vaulted ceiling of the Silk Market in 15th century Italy

La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Market) de Valencia, late Gothic, Italy, 1482 to 1533

Photo © Massimo Merlini / iStockphoto

Definition:

A Solomonic column, also known as a barley-sugar column or a spiral column, is a column with a twisting or spiraling shaft.

Features of a Solomonic Column:

  • Shaft of the column is turned in a twisting, corkscrew pattern
  • Capital (top) of the column can take many shapes, including the Classical Ionic and Corinthian forms
History of the Solomonic Column:
The spiral shape, common in nature, has adorned buildings since the dawn of recorded history. According to legend, spiral columns ornamented the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. However, if Solomon's Temple existed, it was destroyed more than 500 years BC. In 333 AD, Constantine, the first Christian emperor, used spiral columns in a basilica dedicated to St. Peter. Could these columns have been relics from the Temple of Solomon? No one knows.

A new St. Peter's, constructed in the 16th century, incorporated spiral columns. Over the centuries, the spiral Solomonic column shape became became incorporated into many styles, including:

Craftsmen in England, France, and the Netherlands also used spiral-shaped columns and posts to ornament furniture, clocks, and alters. In England, the corkscrew detailing became known as barleysugar or barley-sugar twists.

To explore the history of architectural Solomonic columns, see:

 

Also Known As: Barley-sugar column, barleysugar column, spiral column, torso column, twisted column, turned column, curly column, corkscrew column

Common Misspellings: solmic, salamic, salomonic, solomic

Examples: Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Architecture
  4. Construction Facts
  5. Building Parts
  6. What Is a Solomonic Column?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.