Every piece of a Greek building is integral to its overall structure; a fragment of molding often can be used to reconstruct an entire building.In the Ionic order of architecture, bases support the columns, which have more vertical flutes than those of the Doric order. Ionic capitals have two volutes that rest atop a band of palm-leaf ornaments. The abacus is narrow and the entablature, unlike that of the Doric order, usually consists of three simple horizontal bands. The most important feature of the Ionic order is the frieze, which is usually carved with relief sculpture arranged in a continuous pattern around the building.
In general, the Doric order occurs more frequently on the Greek mainland and at sites on the Italian peninsula, where there were many Greek colonies. The Ionic order was more popular among Greeks in Asia Minor and in the Greek islands. A third order of Greek architecture, known as the Corinthian, first developed in the late Classical period, but was more common in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Corinthian capitals have a bell-shaped echinus decorated with acanthus leaves, spirals, and palmettes. There is also a pair of small volutes at each corner; thus, the capital provides the same view from all sides.
The quarrying and transport of marble and limestone were costly and labor-intensive, and often constituted the primary cost of erecting a temple. For example, the wealth Athens accumulated after the Persian Wars enabled Perikles to embark on his extensive building program, which included the Parthenon (447–432 B.C.) and other monuments on the Athenian Akropolis. Typically, a Greek civic or religious body engaged the architect, who participated in every aspect of construction. He usually chose the stone, oversaw its extraction, and supervised the craftsmen who roughly shaped each piece in the quarry. At the building site, expert carvers gave the blocks their final form, and workmen hoisted each one into place. The tight fit of the stones was enough to hold them in place without the use of mortar; metal clamps embedded in the stone reinforced the structure against earthquakes. A variety of skilled labor collaborated in the raising of a temple. Workmen were hired to construct the wooden scaffolding needed for hoisting stone blocks and sculpture, and to make the ceramic tiles for the roofs. Metalworkers were employed to make the metal fittings used for reinforcing the stone blocks and to fashion the necessary bronze accoutrements for sculpted scenes on the frieze, metopes and pediments. Sculptors from the Greek mainland and abroad carved freestanding and relief sculpture for the eaves of the temple building. Painters were engaged to decorate sculptural and architectural elements with painted details.
The Doric style is rather sturdy and its top (the capital), is plain. This style was used in mainland Greece and the colonies in southern Italy and Sicily.
The Ionic style is thinner and more elegant. Its capital is decorated with a scroll-like design (a volute). This style was found in eastern Greece and the islands.
The Corinthian style is seldom used in the Greek world, but often seen on Roman temples. Its capital is very elaborate and decorated with acanthus leaves.