In the early period of the Roman empire extensive use was made of ancient Greek architectural ideas , particularly those of the corinthian order . As a result , many early Roman buildings – such as the Temple of Vesta (opposite)- closely resemble ancient Greek buildings . A distinctive Roman style began to evolve in the first century AD . This style developed on the interiors of buildings (the Greeks had concentrated on the exterior) by using arches , vaults , and domes inside the buildings , by ornamenting internal walls . Many of these features can be seen in the Pantheon . Exterior columns were often used for decorative , rather than structural , purposes , as in the colosseum and the porta Nigra . Smaller buildings had timber frames with wattle-and-dumb walls , as in the mill . Roman architecture remained influential for many centuries , with some of its principles being used in the 11th century in Romanesque buildings and also in the 15th and 16th centuries in Renaissance buildings .