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Pilasters at the County Courthouse in Sidney, Ohio (USA)

A pilaster (from Latin pila "pillar") is a pillar-like form element of architecture .

Load-bearing pillar and blind pillar

The pilaster is a partial pillar incorporated into the wall structure , which is also known as a wall pillar. It can have a load-bearing static function, but does not have to have this. Similar to the " half or blend column ", the pilaster can be an element of the pseudo architecture in plaster and stucco . The German expression "Reliefpfeiler", which is better known as the longest palindrome word, is then rarely found . Its main architectural purpose is the vertical division of exterior or interior wall surfaces. In contrast to the pilaster strip , it has a base , capital or fighter .

A special shape is the “Hermenpilaster”, the shaft of which tapers downwards like a Herme . Such forms are found mainly in the late Baroque Spanish style of Churriguerism .

New church in Würzburg . Right: Colossal pilasters that serve as buttresses and were installed around 1700

Pilasters that extend over several floors of a colossal order are called colossal pilasters . In this form they can also serve as buttresses .


Pilasters were already used to design and structure walls in ancient Greek architecture , and Roman architects also made extensive use of them. The architectural motif was equally popular in both Romanesque and Gothic architecture. In the Renaissance , the pilaster was one of the most common means of structuring, for example on the facade of the Palazzo Rucellai in Florence , and was then used as the dominant facade as a structural element as well as a structural element in interior design from classicism to historicism . From there it also goes over to contemporary furniture design, where the paneling is structured in a pilaster shape with the framing frames .

The pilaster disappears with the reduced formal language of modernity , which only makes elementary construction contexts visible to the outside. Only since Brutalism has it been found again in its functional, load-bearing form as an outward-looking element of the skeleton construction in concrete, albeit pilaster-like with no base and head elements, unless the frame construction requires it.

Temple of Thirukkattalai


Also in the South Indian Pallava architecture (7th – 9th centuries) and especially in the temporally and stylistically subsequent Chola architecture (9th – 12th centuries) there are pilaster-like vertical structures of the outer walls of temples.


Web links

Commons : Pilasters  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Pilasters  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. According to the 1997 Guinness Book of Records, the longest German one-word palindrome is a relief pillar (German for pilasters).
  2. Stefan Kummer : Architecture and fine arts from the beginnings of the Renaissance to the end of the Baroque. In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes; Volume 2: From the Peasants' War in 1525 to the transition to the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1814. Theiss, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8062-1477-8 , pp. 576–678 and 942–952, here: p. 608.