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The restored Stoa of Attalos in Athens, with busts of historical philosophers.

A stoa (/ˈstə/; plural, stoas,[1] stoai,[1] or stoae /ˈst./[2]), in ancient Greek architecture, is a covered walkway or portico, commonly for public use.[3] Early stoas were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.

This, an "open-fronted shelter with a lean-to roof", is the meaning in modern usage, but in fact the ancient Greeks "made no clear distinction in their speech" between these and large enclosed rooms with similar functions.[4]

Later examples were built as two stories, and incorporated inner colonnades usually in the Ionic style, where shops or sometimes offices were located. These buildings were open to the public; merchants could sell their goods, artists could display their artwork, and religious gatherings could take place. Stoas usually surrounded the marketplaces or agora of large cities and were used as a framing device.[5]

Other examples were designed to create safe, protective atmospheres which combined useful inside and outside space. The name of the Stoic school of philosophy derives from "stoa".[6]

Famous stoas[edit]

View of the Stoa Amphiaraion

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "stoa", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Ed., 1989
  2. ^ "stoa". Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  3. ^ Baltzly, Dirk (2019), Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), "Stoicism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2019 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 2021-10-22
  4. ^ Lawrence, 252
  5. ^ Jeffrey Becker. "Introduction to Greek architecture". Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  6. ^ Sedley, David (2016), "Stoicism", Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1 ed.), London: Routledge, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-a112-1, ISBN 978-0-415-25069-6, retrieved 2021-10-22

External links[edit]