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Schematic plan of a monopteros

A monopteros (Ancient Greek:ὁ μονόπτερος from the Polytonic: μόνος, only, single, alone, and τὸ πτερόν, wing) is a circular colonnade supporting a roof but without any walls.[1] Unlike a tholos (in its wider sense as a circular building), it does not have walls making a cella or room inside. In Greek and especially Roman antiquity the term could also be used for a tholos. In ancient times monopteroi (Ancient Greek: οἱ μονόπτεροι) served inter alia as a form of baldachin for a cult image. An example of this is the Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, albeit the spaces between the columns were walled in, even in ancient times. The Temple of Rome and Augustus on the Athenian Acropolis is a monopteros from Roman times with open spaces between the columns. Cyriacus von Ancona, a 15th-century traveller, handed down his architrave inscription: Ad praefatae Palladis Templi vestibulum.

In Baroque and Classical architecture, a monopteros as a pavilion, often given a classical name such as a "muses' temple" is a popular garden feature in English and French gardens. The monopteros also occurs in German parks, as in the English Garden in Munich and in Hayns Park in Hamburg-Eppendorf. Many wells in parks and spa centres have the appearance of a monopteros. Many monopteroi have staffage structures like a porticus, placed in front of the monopteros. These also have only a decorative function, because they are not needed in order to provide an entrance to a temple that is open on all sides.

Many monopteroi are described as rotundas due to their circular floor plan. The tholos also goes by that name. However, many monopteroi have square or polygonal plans, that would not be described as rotundas. An example is the Muses' Temple with the muse, Polyhymnia, in the grounds of Tiefurt House, that has a hexagonal floor plan.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Curl, James Stevens (2006). Oxford Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, 2nd ed., OUP, Oxford and New York, p. 500. ISBN 978-0-19-860678-9.


  • Wolfgang Binder: Der Roma-Augustus Monopteros auf der Akropolis in Athen und sein typologischer Ort. Karlsruhe 1969.
  • Ingrid Weibezahn: Geschichte und Funktion des Monopteros. Untersuchungen zu einem Gebäudetyp des Spätbarock und des Klassizismus. Hildesheim 1975, ISBN 3-487-05764-6. Online: [1] (Google Books)

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