AskDefine | Define palaestra

Dictionary Definition

palaestra n : a public place in ancient Greece or Rome devoted to the training of wrestlers and other athletes [syn: palestra]

Extensive Definition

The palaestra was the ancient Greek wrestling school. The events that did not require a lot of space, such as boxing and wrestling, were practiced there. The palaestra functioned both independently and as a part of public gymnasia. A palaestra could exist without a gymnasium, but no gymnasium could exist without a palaestra.

Architecture of the palaestra

The architecture of the palaestra, although allowing for some variation, followed a distinct, standard plan. The palaestra essentially consisted of a rectangular court surrounded by colonnades with adjoining rooms. These rooms might house a variety of functions: bathing, ball playing, undressing and storage of clothes, seating for socializing, observation, or instruction, and storage of oil, dust or athletic equipment. Vitruvius, through his text On Architecture, is an important ancient source about this building type and provides many details about what he calls ?palaistra, Greek-style?. Although the specifics of his descriptions do not always correspond to the architectural evidence, probably because he was writing around 27 BC, his account provides insight into the general design and uses of this type of space. As Vitruvius describes, the palaestra was square or rectangular in shape with colonnades along all four sides creating porticoes. The portico on the northern side of the palaestra was of double depth to protect against the weather. Spacious halls (exedrae) were built along the single depth sides of the palaestra with seats for those enjoying intellectual pursuits, and the double depth side was divided into an area for youth activities (ephebeum), a punching bag area (coryceum), a room for applying powders (conisterium), a room for cold bathing, and an oil storeroom (elaeothesium).
Good examples of this building type come from two major Greek sites: Olympia and Delphi.
palaestra in Catalan: Palestra
palaestra in Danish: Palæstra
palaestra in German: Palaestra
palaestra in Estonian: Palestra
palaestra in Spanish: Palestra
palaestra in French: Palestre
palaestra in Hungarian: Palaisztra
palaestra in Polish: Palestra (starożytna Grecja)
palaestra in Portuguese: Palaestra
palaestra in Russian: Палестра
palaestra in Finnish: Palaestra
palaestra in Swedish: Palaestra

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Rugby, acrobatics, agonistics, agora, amphitheater, arena, association football, athletic field, athletics, auditorium, background, bathing, bear garden, bowl, boxing ring, bull ring, campus, canvas, circus, cockpit, coliseum, colosseum, course, fencing school, field, floor, forum, ground, gym, gymnasium, gymnastics, hall, hippodrome, lists, locale, marketplace, mat, milieu, natation, open forum, parade ground, pit, place, platform, precinct, prize ring, public square, purlieu, range, ring, rugger, scene, scene of action, scenery, setting, site, soccer, sphere, sports, squared circle, stadium, stage, stage set, stage setting, swimming, terrain, theater, tilting ground, tiltyard, track, track and field, tumbling, walk, wrestling ring, wrestling school
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