A column is an upright pillar or post. Columns may support a roof or a beam, or they can be purely decorative.
A column has three main parts.
- The base. Most columns rest on a round or square base.
- The shaft. The main part of the column, the shaft, may be smooth, fluted (grooved), or carved with designs.
- The capital. The top of the column may be simple or elaborately decorated.
Classical columns are built according to the Classical Orders of Architecture as recorded in the late 1500's by the Italian Renaissance architect Giacomo da Vignola. The classical column designs are:
Over the centuries, a variety of column types and column designs evolved in other parts of the world. To see different styles of columns, browse our Photo Guide to Column Design and Column Types.