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Architrave of the left-side portal in the facade of Sant'Ambrogio basilica in Milan, Italy
Architrave in the Basilica di San Salvatore, Spoleto, Italy.

In Classical architecture an architrave (/ˈɑːrkɪtrv/; from Italian: architrave "chief beam", also called an epistyle; from Greek ἐπίστυλον epistylon "door frame") is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of the columns.

The term can also apply to all sides, including the vertical members, of a frame with mouldings around a door or window. The word "architrave" is also used to refer more generally to a style of mouldings (or other elements) framing the top of a door, window or other rectangular opening, where the horizontal "head" casing extends across the tops of the vertical side casings where the elements join (forming a butt joint, as opposed to a miter joint).[1]


Classical architectureEdit

In an entablature in classical architecture, it is the lowest part, below the frieze and cornice. The word is derived from the Greek and Latin words arche and trabs combined together to mean "main beam". The architrave is different in the different orders. In the Tuscan, it only consists of a plain face, crowned with a fillet, and is half a module in height. In the Doric and composite, it has two faces, or fasciae; and three in the Ionic and Corinthian, in which it is 10/12 of a module high, though but half a module in the rest.[2]

Metaphorical useEdit

The term "architrave" has also been used in academic writing to mean the fundamental part of something (a speech, a thought or a reasoning), or the basis upon which an idea, reasoning, thought or philosophy is built.


  1. "...the Mature Hegel – the Hegel of the Philosophy of Right – who becomes the architrave on which he (Honneth, ed.) constructs his social philosophy."[3]
  2. "to become the architrave of his theoretic construction"[4]

Indian architecture (Śilpaśāstra)Edit

In śilpaśāstra, the ancient Indian science of sculpture, the architrave is commonly referred to by its Sanskrit name uttara.[5] It is placed above the bracket (potika) of a pillar (stambha), which gives it extra support. The Indian entablature is called prastara.

Dravidian architecture recognizes several distinct types of Architraves[6]:

  • rounded (vṛttapotika)
  • wavy (taraṅgapotika)
  • flower shaped (puṣpapotika)
  • bevel and tenon type (ādhārapotika)
  • voluted (muṣṭibanda)
  • figural (citrapotika)

See alsoEdit

  • Archivoltexpanded and elaborated architrave element
  • DolmenNeolithic predecessor, megalithic tombs with structural stone lintels
  • Lintel
  • Post and lintelarchitectural system with architraves-lintels


  1. ^ Ching, Francis D.K. (1995). A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 179, 186. ISBN 0-471-28451-3.
  2. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
  3. ^ Page: XIV, The Ethics of Democracy: A Contemporary Reading of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (Lucio Cortella, SUNY Press, 2015)[1]
  4. ^ Pag. 281, Economics and institutions Contributions from the History of Economic thought (Pier Francesco Asso, Luca Fiorito, Italian Association for History and Economic Thought, Vol. IV, Franco Angeli Press 2007)
  5. ^ "Temples of Salem region Up to 1336 AD" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Temples of Salem region Up to 1336 AD" (PDF).

External linksEdit