The pilaster is an architectural element in classical architecture used to give the appearance of a supporting column and to articulate an extent of wall, with only an ornamental function. It consists of a flat surface raised from the main wall surface, usually treated as though it were a column, with a capital at the top, plinth (base) at the bottom, and the various other elements. In contrast to a pilaster, an engaged column or buttress can support the structure of a wall and roof above.

StateLibraryNSW detail 03
Detail of pilaster and entablature (with column on right) in Sydney sandstone in the entry of the Mitchell Library in Sydney, Australia


In discussing Leon Battista Alberti's use of pilasters, which Alberti reintroduced into wall-architecture, Rudolf Wittkower wrote, "The pilaster is the logical transformation of the column for the decoration of a wall. It may be defined as a flattened column which has lost its three-dimensional and tactile value."[1]

A pilaster appears with a capital.[2] and entablature, also in "low-relief" or flattened against the wall. Generally, a pilaster often repeats all parts and proportions of an order column; however, unlike it, a pilaster is usually devoid of entasis.

Pilasters often appear on the sides of a door frame or window opening on the facade of a building, and are sometimes paired with columns or pillars set directly in front of them at some distance away from the wall, which support a roof structure above, such as a portico. These vertical elements can also be used to support a recessed archivolt around a doorway. The pilaster can be replaced by ornamental brackets supporting the entablature or a balcony over a doorway.

When a pilaster appears at the corner intersection of two walls it is known as a canton.[3]

As with a column, a pilaster can have a plain or fluted surface to its profile and can be represented in the mode of any architectural style. During the Renaissance and Baroque architects used a range of pilaster forms.[4] In the giant order pilasters appear as two storeys tall, linking floors in a single unit.

The fashion of using this element from ancient Greek and Roman architecture was adopted in the Italian Renaissance, gained wide popularity with Greek Revival architecture, and continues to be seen in some modern architecture.

Pilaster is frequently also referred to as a non-ornamental, load-bearing architectural element in non-classical architecture where a structural load must be carried by a wall or column next to a wall and the wall thickens to accommodate the structural requirements of the wall.



Paired Corinthian pilasters with high bases on the county courthouse in Sidney, Ohio

Puerta de la colegiata - Lerma

Puerta de la colegiata, Lerma, Spain

Colossal order 8 avenue Opera Paris

Colossal order of Corinthian pilasters. 1st and 2nd floors of a 19th-century building, 8 avenue de l'Opéra, Paris.

Manor House Princes Risborough Bucks Door & pilasters

Brick pilasters in English domestic architecture c1650. Princes Risborough Manor House

See also


  1. ^ Wittkower, Rudolf (1940). "Alberti's Approach to Antiquity in Architecture". Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. London: Warburg Institute. 4 (1/2: Oct., 1940 - Jan., 1941): 3. JSTOR 750120.
  2. ^ A useful phrase to identify a section of pilaster without a capital, with only its fluting to identify its relation to a column, is "pilaster strip".
  3. ^ Ching, Francis D. K. (1995). A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. ISBN 0-442-02462-2, p. 266.
  4. ^ Mark Jarzombek, "Pilaster Play" (PDF), Thresholds, 28 (Winter 2005): 34–41


  • Lewis, Philippa and Gillian Darley, Dictionary of Ornament (1986) NY: Pantheon
Anta (architecture)

An anta (pl. antæ, antae, antas) (Latin, possibly from ante, 'before' or 'in front of'), or sometimes parastas (pl. parastades) is an architectural term describing the posts or pillars on either side of a doorway or entrance of a Greek temple - the slightly projecting piers which terminate the walls of the naos. It differs from the pilaster, which is purely decorative, and does not have the structural support function of the anta.

Athena relief of Sömek

The Athena relief of Sömek is a Greco-Roman rock relief, located some two kilometres north of the village of Sömek in Silifke district of Mersin province in Turkey, near the valley of the Limonlu river, the ancient Lamos. In antiquity, the river formed the border between "Rugged Cilicia" (Kilikia Tracheia) in the west and "Flat Cilicia" (Kilikia Pedias) in the east.

Capital (architecture)

In architecture the capital (from the Latin caput, or "head") or chapiter forms the topmost member of a column (or a pilaster). It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface. The capital, projecting on each side as it rises to support the abacus, joins the usually square abacus and the usually circular shaft of the column. The capital may be convex, as in the Doric order; concave, as in the inverted bell of the Corinthian order; or scrolling out, as in the Ionic order. These form the three principal types on which all capitals in the classical tradition are based. The Composite order (illustration, right), established in the 16th century on a hint from the Arch of Titus, adds Ionic volutes to Corinthian acanthus leaves.

From the highly visible position it occupies in all colonnaded monumental buildings, the capital is often selected for ornamentation; and is often the clearest indicator of the architectural order. The treatment of its detail may be an indication of the building's date.


A credenza in US English is a term for a dining room sideboard cupboard, particularly one where a central cupboard is flanked by quadrant glass display cabinets, and usually made of burnished and polished wood and decorated with marquetry. The top would often be made of marble, or another decorative liquid- and heat-resistant stone.

The credenza started as a rough table with a cloth draped over it. In early 14th century of Italy, it took on an architectural form with column and pilaster decorations.In modern times, a credenza is more often a type of sideboard used in the home or restaurant. In dining rooms, it is typically made from wood and used as a platform to serve buffet meals. In restaurant kitchens, made from stainless steel, it provides a side surface and storage cupboards. The name has also been coopted as a brand for companies such as Wellington's coworking office space.

Engaged column

In architecture, an engaged column is a column embedded in a wall and partly projecting from the surface of the wall, sometimes defined as semi or three-quarter detached. Engaged columns are rarely found in classical Greek architecture, and then only in exceptional cases, but in Roman architecture they exist in abundance, most commonly embedded in the cella walls of pseudoperipteral buildings.

Fluting (architecture)

Fluting in architecture consists of shallow grooves running along a surface.

The term typically refers to the grooves running vertically on a column shaft or a pilaster, but need not necessarily be restricted to those two applications. If the hollowing out of material meets in a point, the point is called an arris.

Framingham Earl

Framingham Earl is a small village situated south of Norwich, in the English county of Norfolk. It is next to Poringland and Framingham Pigot. It covers an area of 2.56 km2 (0.99 sq mi) and had a population of 834 in 354 households at the 2001 census, increasing to a population of 871 in 363 households at the 2011 Census.

Within Framingham Earl is Framingham Earl High School, which is a Specialist Sports College. Sharing the same site is the newly built Sports Centre, which opened in early 2006 and provides a range of exercise classes and sports opportunities to the people of the surrounding villages as well as giving the school extra space to use for PE and dance lessons.

The village has two churches, the Methodist Church and the Church of St. Andrew. St. Andrew's is one of 124 existing round-tower churches in Norfolk. The plan of the church is beguilingly irregular, with the chancel decreasing in width towards the east end. A pilaster strip in the south wall of the chancel curiously tapers with the narrow portion at the bottom: the whole building has a gnarled, irregular appearance which is a mark of Anglo-Saxon construction. Even the corners (quoins) are of flint, although these are somewhat larger on the whole than those built into the body of the walls. There is even, surprisingly, an attempt at herringbone-work, all in flint, and round splayed porthole windows dressed entirely in flints, not quite perfect circles.

The writer W. G. Sebald is buried in the churchyard of St. Andrew's.

Framingham Earl has a pub called The Railway Tavern and a shop called Indian Ocean, which sells fair trade craft and furniture items.

I am beautiful (Auguste Rodin)

I am beautiful, also known as The Abduction, is an 1882 sculpture by French artist Auguste Rodin, inspired in a fragment from Charles Baudelaire's collection of poems Les Fleurs du mal.

The sculpture appears in The Gates of Hell, specifically in the right pilaster, made from joining Crouching Woman and The Falling Man. This group shows the woman with her back to the audience, in a round-like shape, and the man holding her in a manner reminiscent of the mythological deity Atlas. In this and several other pieces, Rodin wants to express a morbid and erotic vision in which sexual satisfaction is unreachable.I am beautiful was part of an 1886 exhibition at the Georges Petit Gallery, where it caused commotion due to its audacity: the union of the aforementioned pieces form a symbolic expression of joy and passion that could not be achieved by its component parts, showcasing both suffering— in a figure that crouches folds unto itself— and an excess of reach in an overextended figure.

Iglesia de San Andrés, Toledo

The iglesia de San Andrés is a church located in the city of Toledo, in Castile-La Mancha, Spain. The iglesia de San Andrés, as is common in this city, is a mix of different styles. On the one hand, there are present Mudéjar and Gothic architecture, and also, the Baroque, following a remodeling of the 17th century. After the last restoration traceries appeared in the facade that evoke the eclecticism of the crossing. A Visigoth relief and two Visigothic pilasters was also discovered.As the most of the Mudéjar churches in Toledo, it presents a simple aspect.

Its main entrance, unique in Toledo, in of Almohad style bearing uncommon small green ceramic in columns on the door. The capitals are Visigoths. Its mosque past is being represented by a funeral pilaster.During the 16th century its solid late Gothic head was added, with exterior buttresses that compensate for the considerable change in height, while its interior features a vault and palm arch ribs with honeycomb work in the transept naves.

Iglesia de las Santas Justa y Rufina, Toledo

The Iglesia de las Santas Justa y Rufina is one of the so-called Mozarabic parish churches of Toledo (Castile-La Mancha, Spain), whose existence has been documented since 1156. However, certain material remains reveal the existence in this place of an Islamic construction, which would undoubtedly have to be identified with a mosque. Until very recently, the only testimony of the existence of an Islamic construction consisted of a fragment of arch that, on a Visigothic pilaster, was embedded in the northwest facade of the temple. The reuse of a piece from previous period, combined with the characteristics of the cutting of the arch, allow them to think of an Islamic work dating around 10th century.Once the temple was consecrated to Christian worship, its apse had to be erected, whose formal characteristics would lead it to relate it to that of the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz and, therefore, to date it with a similar chronology: 12th century or early 13th century. In this way, it would be inserted in the first phase of the Toledan Mudéjar.

The main transformations of the building arrived from 1530, by the hand of Alonso de Covarrubias.


Lendinara is a town and comune in the province of Rovigo, Veneto, northern Italy. It is part of the historical and geographical region of Polesine.

It is the birthplace of Domenico Montagnana (1680–1750), one of the world's finest violin and cello makers. Tenor Domenico Ronconi was also born in the town.

In the latter part of the 19th century it was the home of Jessie White Mario, the English woman who took an active part in the struggle for the Unification of Italy at the side of Mazzini and Garibaldi. Outside of the town stands the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora del Pilastrello (Our Lady of the Pilaster), at the site of a shrine built in the 16th century to house an icon of the Madonna. The abbey and church were reconstructed in the 19th century.


A lesene – also called a pilaster strip – is an architectural term for a narrow, low-relief, vertical pillar in a wall. It resembles a pilaster, but does not have a base or capital. It is typical in Lombardic and Rijnlandish architectural building styles.

Mezquita-Iglesia de El Salvador, Toledo

The Mezquita-Iglesia de El Salvador is a church in Toledo, Spain completed in 1159.

Although the church is small, it is an exceptional building, because it was the site of 4 successive constructions, one on other and so on, It's a 12th-century church built on an 11th-century Taifa mosque, which was an expansion of a 9th-century Umayyad mosque and in turn on a Visigothic religious building. Also these civilizations reused 2nd-century Roman elements.

Have to say that is very-usually at the al-Andalus territory that Muslim liked to build on Visigothic buildings.

The large number of Visigothic decorative reliefs forming friezes and Roman cornices embedded in the walls is surprising.The current church is still oriented south-east, in the direction of Mecca. It survived to the conquest of Toledo by the Christian armies in 1085, to be turned into a church in 1159. One of the most characteristic elements of the church is a Visigothic pilaster, with intricate relief carvings.As a Christian church, from around 1180 to the late-15th century, it began to be used as a cemetery with anthropomorphic tombs, above which were placed more burials, in which some grave goods have been found.

Pilaster (horse)

Pilasater (foaled 1944 in Maryland) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who was inducted into the Maryland-Bred Hall of Fame in 1967. He was bred and raced by Henry L. Straus and trained by Frank Bonsal.

Purvesvara Siva Temple

Purvesvara Siva Temple is located in Kancha Sahi, in the Old Town of Bhubaneswar. It was built in 13th century AD. It is a living temple and now under the care of Purvesvara Temple Development Association.

It is 300 metres east of Lingaraja temple on the left side of the road leading to Garej chowk. The temple faces west. According to local tradition, the presiding deity is known as Purvesvara, as it is situated east of Lingaraja Temple. Other temples in the three directions are Uttartesvara (north), Barunesvara (south) and Paschimesvara (west).

The enshrining deity is a broken Lingam within a circular Yonipitha at the centre of the sanctum, which is 1.07 metres below the present ground level. Vimana is not ascertained due to the absence of superstructure; jagamohana is in pidha order. It was built in the mature phase of Orissa temple building. Various rituals are observed here such as Sivaratri, Sankranti and Rudraviseka.

San Sisto, Pisa

San Sisto is a church in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy.

It was consecrated in 1133 but previously it had been already used as the seat of the most important notary act of the Pisan commune. It was built in a Pisane-Romanesque style in stone. The façade is divided in three parts divided by pilaster strips, with a mullioned window and arches in the upper part which continues on the whole exterior. Notable is the typical local decoration with Islamic ceramic basins from the 10th-11th centuries (copies; the original are in the Museum of St. Matthew in the city).

The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by columns with ancient Roman capitals, with hut-shaped ceiling. It houses also an Arabic tombstone, the copy of a 14th-century Madonna with Child and the rudder of a Pisane galley (13th-14th centuries).

The Falling Man (Auguste Rodin)

The Falling Man (in French: L'Homme qui tombe) is a sculpture by French artist Auguste Rodin modeled in 1882 and is part of Rodin's emblematic group The Gates of Hell.

This figure represents the cumulative human forces, cast upon the eternal emptiness of Hell. In The Gates of Hell, the sculpture appears in three different places: at the top of the left door, at the top of the right pilaster— the one holding Crouching Woman as part of I am beautiful— and as the central piece of Avarice at the bottom of the Gates. Judging by the position of the first figure, some authors have suggested that Rodin suspected his commission would be canceled because the arched position of the man would make difficult, if not impossible, to open and close the doors, hindering its function.Is worth noting that, even though this figure appears in different directions in The Gates, its muscles stay the same; which hints at Rodin's idea of taking an artistic license regarding gravity. This concept heralds the modernist movement, which favors expression over verisimilitude.

The Martens

The Martens is a historic apartment building located at Indianapolis, Indiana. It was built in 1900, and is a three-story, 19 bay wide, brick building. It has commercial storefronts on the first floor with Classical Revival style cast iron pilaster posts and supporting "I" beam framing. It features two-story projecting bays on the upper stories.It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Tom Tower

Tom Tower is a bell tower in Oxford, England, named after its bell, Great Tom. It is over Tom Gate, on St Aldates, the main entrance of Christ Church, Oxford, which leads into Tom Quad. This square tower with an octagonal lantern and facetted ogee dome was designed by Christopher Wren and built 1681–82. The strength of Oxford architectural tradition and Christ Church's connection to its founder, Henry VIII, motivated the decision to complete the gatehouse structure, left unfinished by Cardinal Wolsey at the date of his fall from power in 1529, and which had remained roofless since. Wren made a case for working in a Late Gothic style—that it "ought to be Gothick to agree with the Founders worke"—a style that had not been seen in a prominent building for a hundred and fifty years, making Tom Tower a lonely precursor of the Gothic Revival that got underway in the mid-18th century. Wren never came to supervise the structure as it was being erected by the stonemason he had recommended, Christopher Kempster of Burford.

In 1732–34, when William Kent was called upon to make sympathetic reconstruction of the east range of Clock Court in Wolsey's Tudor Hampton Court Palace, he naturally turned to the precedent of Tom Tower for his "central ogee dome with its coronet of pilaster-like gothick finials". The tower of Dunster House at Harvard University is a direct imitation of Tom Tower, though its details have been Georgianised, and stones from Christ Church are installed in one of the house's main entryways.

Tom Tower was the inspiration for the Clock Tower (formally the Old Arts Building) at the University of Auckland.

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