AskDefine | Define peristyle

Dictionary Definition

peristyle n : a colonnade surrounding a building or enclosing a court

User Contributed Dictionary



From French péristyle, from classical Latin peristylum, from Hellenistic Greek περίστυλον, noun use of the neuter form of περίστυλος ‘surrounded by columns’, from περι- + στῦλος ‘pillar’.


  • (UK) /ˈpɛɹɪstaɪl/
  • (US) /ˈpɛɻəstaɪl/


  1. A colonnade surrounding a courtyard, temple etc., or the space thus enclosed.
    • 1942: One cannot, for example, see the Temple of Æsculapius as one stands in the fine open courtyard as it was intended one should do; the interstices on that side of the peristyle have been blocked by Venetian Gothic buildings — Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Canongate 2006, p. 143)
  2. A porch surrounded by columns.

Extensive Definition

In Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building that surrounds a court that may contain an internal garden. "Tetrastoon" (Greek: "four arcades") is another name for this feature. In the Christian ecclesiastical architecture that developed from Roman precedents, a basilica, such as Old St Peter's in Rome, would stand behind a peristyle forecourt that sheltered it from the street. In time the cloister developed from the peristyle.
In rural settings a wealthy Roman could surround a villa with terraced gardens; within the city Romans created their gardens inside the domus. The peristylium was an open courtyard within the house; the columns or square pillars surrounding the garden supported a shady roofed portico whose inner walls were often embellished with elaborate wall paintings of landscapes and trompe-l'oeil architecture. Sometimes the lararium, a shrine for the Lares, the gods of the household, was located in this portico, or it might be found in the atrium. The courtyard might contain flowers and shrubs, fountains, benches, sculptures and even fish ponds.
Though the Egyptians did not use the Greek term peristyle, historians have adopted it to describe similar structures in Egyptian palace architecture and in Levantine houses known as liwan houses.

External links

peristyle in Catalan: Peristil
peristyle in Czech: Peristyl
peristyle in German: Peristyl
peristyle in Spanish: Peristilo
peristyle in French: Péristyle
peristyle in Italian: Peristilio
peristyle in Hungarian: Perisztülion
peristyle in Dutch: Peristylium
peristyle in Norwegian: Peristyl
peristyle in Polish: Perystyl
peristyle in Portuguese: Peristilo
peristyle in Russian: Перистиль
peristyle in Finnish: Peristyyli
peristyle in Swedish: Peristyl
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1