Gazebos are freestanding or attached to a garden wall, roofed, and open on all sides. They provide shade, shelter, ornamental features in a landscape, and a place to rest. Some gazebos in public parks are large enough to serve as bandstands or rain shelters.
Gazebos include pavilions, kiosks, alhambras, belvederes, follies, pergolas, and rotundas. Such structures are popular in warm and sunny climates. They feature in the literature of China, Persia, and many other classical civilizations. Examples of such structures are the garden houses at Montacute House in Somerset, England. The gazebo at Elton on the Hill in Nottinghamshire, thought to date from the late 18th or early 19th century, is a square crenelated, brick and stone tower with an arched opening. It is part of an extensive system of red-brick walled gardens.
In contemporary England and North America, gazebos are typically built of wood and covered with standard roofing materials, such as shingles. Gazebos can be tent-style structures of poles covered by tensioned fabric. Gazebos may have screens to aid in the exclusion of flying insects.
The origin of the word gazebo is unknown and has no cognates in other European languages. False etymologies have been proposed, such as the French Que c'est beau ("How beautiful") and the Macaronic Latin gazebo ("I shall gaze"). L. L. Bacon put forward a derivation from Casbah, a Muslim quarter around the citadel in Algiers. W. Sayers proposed Hispano-Arabic qushaybah, in a poem by Cordoban poet Ibn Quzman (d. 1160).
The word gazebo was used by British architects John and William Halfpenny in their book Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste (1750). Plate 55 of the book, "Elevation of a Chinese Gazebo", shows "a Chinese Tower or Gazebo, situated on a Rock, and raised to a considerable Height, and a Gallery round it to render the Prospect more complete."
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- A longer definition in the Merriam-Webster Concise Encyclopedia: Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- British Listed Buildings.Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- Bacon, Leonard Lee. "Gazebos and Alambras", American Notes and Queries 8:6 (1970):87–87
- William Sayers, Eastern prospects: Kiosks, belvederes, gazebos. Neophilologus 87: 299–305, 2003.
- Hirsch 1993, pp. 111–113.