Attica (architecture)

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Attica of the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome

Attic (from Greek Attikos in, Attic ') denotes architecture a wall-like increase in the outer wall on the edge of the roof addition, the concealment of the roof .

Today the term parapet is occasionally used for an upstand on the edge of the flat roof .


The word Attica probably comes from the Greek adjective Atticus on what " Attic " means and refers to the origin of this design. A different explanation derives the name from the Latin verb attingere (“to touch, to touch”, also “to bump, to border”), since the attic borders on or touches the main building. Against this attempt at explanation, however, speaks that the participle formed too attingere is perfect passive attactus and not atticus .

Ancient architecture

The attica is said to have been used for the first time in the Greek landscape of Attica , hence the name. This is a wall above the Sima in the roof area. An important example of this can be found in Athens at the Thrasyllos monument . The parapet is an almost indispensable part of Roman arches, on gates and triumphal arches as a base for the installation of figures and vases and for inscriptions and reliefs. The classic attic was windowless, unless an attic floor was hidden behind it.

Post-ancient use

Attica designed as a balustrade on a villa in Berlin (1877)

From the Renaissance to Baroque to Classicism , the attic was a popular architectural element. In the Renaissance, it was mainly used on church buildings and secular buildings (town halls and castles) to cover the eaves . The parapet was then either built as a parapet or dissolved as a balustrade .

Polish attica

In Poland and some neighboring areas, in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, facades that were lavishly adorned with attachments, but generally horizontal, were popular, which often differed from ancient models.

Attic floor

Attic building (Buckingham House, London, 18th century)

The attic storey or attic storey is a low upper storey located above the cornice , which takes on the role of the attic in the facade structure. In baroque palace buildings , this low upper floor was often set back a little and hidden behind the balustrade of the attic. In classicism, on the other hand, the final cornice was often left out entirely, so that the attic floor became a final mezzanine , which can often only be recognized in the facade structure by the fact that the windows are less high and often significantly less large than the windows below.

If the windows of the attic storey are in the knee , the rooms behind are usually partly in the attic. Today, such rooms are usually also equipped with roof windows, which results in well-lit and high-quality usable rooms.

In Switzerland , attic apartment is a term for an apartment in a penthouse .

In English, the meaning of the term changed so as Attic today usually only the attic is called.


In classical architecture, the height of the attic is usually around a third of the underlying architectural order. Today we also speak of an attic if it protrudes only 30 to 50 cm above the top floor ceiling. Nowadays the parapet is also used as a security element. Especially in hall construction with a flat roof, fire protection walls are provided with a parapet to prevent the flames from spreading to the roof in the event of a fire.


  • Wasmuths Lexikon der Baukunst 1 (1929) 221 sv Attika
  • A. Boethius - J. Ward-Perkins, Etruscan and Roman Architecture (1970)
  • R. Ginouves et al., Dictionnaire methodique de l'architecture grecque et romaine 2 (1992)
  • W. Müller-Wiener, Greek Civil Engineering in Antiquity (1988)

Individual evidence

  1. Small dictionary of architecture - Reclam, p. 14, Paragraph Attika; ISBN 3-15-009360-0

Web links

Commons : Roof parapets  - collection of images, videos and audio files