History of Gazebos
Gazebos have been a popular outdoor and garden decoration for centuries and, indeed, they are as old as the garden itself. A gazebo is a free standing structure with a roof, often in the form of a cupola, and walls that are open on all sides. Traditionally they are built on a height or a site that provides an attractive view. A gazebo can provide shade, basic shelter, enhance a landscape or just be a place to rest and view the landscape around you. The word “Gazebo” first appeared in England in about 1752; it is believed to be a combination of the English word gaze with the Latin suffix ebo which means “I shall,” thus gazebo means, “I shall gaze.” The term gazebo is also similar to the French term Que c’est beau – “how beautiful.” Both terms are appropriate descriptions for a gazebo, because of its use for decorating or beautifying a yard or park, and because gazebos are open on all sides, providing a nice view from within the gazebo in all directions. Also termed summerhouses, screen houses, kiosks, pavilions, pergolas, arbors, grottos, pagodas, lookouts, or belvederes, gazebo-like structures have been found in the earliest gardens and in many ancient and modern cultures. Gazebos are the most popular garden structure, and are continuing to grow in popularity today.
Gazebos are an excellent structure to use as a tool for studying culture, and cultural changes. Because they are often small and simple structures, designers and architects could experiment and explore on them. Some believe the earliest gazebos had their origins as Garden Temples.
The earliest known gazebos or garden gazebos were in Egyptian gardens approximately 5,000 years ago, found in a garden plan which dates to about 1400 BC. Murals were created on the tombs of some of the Egyptian royalty with a complete layout of their gardens. The earliest garden plan belonged to an Egyptian high court official who lived in Thebes. Based on the Thebes’ garden design, historians and archaeologists have speculated that enclosed gardens with walled, free-standing enclosures similar to pergolas or what we now call the “gazebo,” may date back to 2600 BC or further. Some speculate that early gazebos were used as small temples for communing with the gods. Egyptian royalty often believed their gardens were a paradise on earth and that they could take their gardens to heaven with them, gazebo and all.
In Rome and ancient Greece, gazebo-like structures were built similar to small temples, usually out of marble, complementing the better known or larger temple or cathedral structures dedicated to or depicting the gods. Gazebos became popular structures in Rome and Pompeii, as the population of Rome increased and the affluent and aristocratic built summerhouses along the Mediterranean coasts complete with garden gazebos. Gazebos were focal points in homes and public places
Persians developed their own forms of gazebos or garden houses originating from Islamic architecture, called “kiosks.” Gazebos in tenth-century Persian gardens could range from anything from colorful tents with mats on the floors, two-story structures with cupolas, marble columns, and golden seats. Turkish sultans lived in summer palaces also termed “kiosks.” Some were even constructed across pools or streams so that the cold water running beneath their marble floors would help to cool them. Others were actually used as tombs for their owners.