Focal adhesions (FAs) are highly dynamic multi-protein complexes, through which cells interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM) via integrin receptors. These large assemblies, which typically measure several micrometers in diameter, mediate interactions of cells with external surfaces, and are linked at their cytoplasmic faces with F-actin bundles. Over the last four decades, the molecular diversity of these adhesions and their roles in cell migration and matrix sensing have been extensively studied. Microscopy-based research is considered critical for characterizing and understanding the nature of these assemblies. Here, we review the contributions of, advanced microscopy to the characterization of the functional architecture of integrin-mediated, cell-matrix adhesions." Knowledge of structure is critical to an understanding of function" (Dorothy Hodgkin).