What is a Gazebo?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A gazebo is a free standing structure which is designed to provide shade and some shelter from the elements. Gazebos are typically situated in gardens and in other places with beautiful views, and they are constructed in a wide range of styles and with an assortment of materials. These simple structures are relatively easy to build, and some companies also make gazebo kits, for people who want to be able to assemble them quickly. It is also possible to find tent gazebos, which are designed to be temporary and movable.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

The concept of a gazebo appears to be quite old. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all enjoyed similar structures in their gardens or built into homes and walls. Gazebo-like structures were also common in many parts of Asia, particularly in Japan and China. In Persia, ornate gazebos were decorated with gold fixtures, silk pillows, and marble flooring and benches. These structures appeared in a range of shapes and sizes, but they shared the common trend of being placed so that occupants could enjoy beautiful views.

Europeans were introduced to the gazebo in the 1700's, when a craze for Asian-style design swept nations like France and England. The word “gazebo” entered the English language at around this time, although its origins are not known. Historians suspect that it may be a corruption of an Asian word, since most gazebos and gazebo plans were originating in Japan and China; whatever the origins of the word, the gazebo quickly became a must-have garden feature for the upper classes.

The basic design of a gazebo includes a roof and pillars to support it, sometimes with decorative lattice or carving between the pillars. More commonly, the sides of the gazebo are left open, allowing occupants to enjoy sweeping views of gardens, ponds, and other natural features. The design is often octagonal or round, although other shapes are certainly acceptable and not uncommon. Gazebos are often floored, and they may include benches as well.

Some larger gazebos are used as bandstands for events, while more intimate gazebos may be used at weddings or for small teas. There are really no design limitations on the basic gazebo; the main concern is placement. In the case of tent gazebos, a place out of the wind is advisable, as gusty weather can topple or damage the gazebo.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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