Arch, why?

During our trips to Italy, we have visited many majestic arch architecture. It prompted me to learn a little more about arches.

Why arch?

Arch is used to support the architecture and the weight above it. This great invention has saved ranges of columns that had been used for this purpose.


–Verona Roman Arena, Italy

How does it works?

In short, an arch is made of voussoirs, set with their narrow side toward the opening so that they lock together. The topmost voussoir is called the keystone.  During construction of an arch, the voussoirs require support from below until the keystone has been set in place. Voussoirs can collapse when under too much pressure. To keep this from happening, architects use other arches, walls, or buttresses to support.



Arches appeared as early as the 2000 BCE in Mesopotamian. But, it was considered unsuitable for monumental architecture and rarely used in the ancient Egypt and Greece. Actually, It became common in Ancient Rome.


— The reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

Romans used arches for buildings, bridges, and aqueducts. Contrarily, they used columns for decorative purposes, instead of supporting the building. During the Medieval ages, architects made the pointed arch, which was the basic element in Gothic architecture. Later, a row of arches had been used for bridges


— Pont du Gard, France


  • The Ishtar Gate above (using glazed bricks) was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon, built at around 575 BC. The gate was reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
  • We toured the Pont du Gard several years ago. Painfully to say, all the photos of this two-week trip were lost… The above photo of the Pont du Gard was from Wikipedia.
  • Read more… Britannica

Rusha’s “a word a week: arch” is awesome!

Thank you for visiting! Happy Thursday 🙂

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