Where do cloisters come from?
Cloisters were a medieval kind of building that developed out of Greek and then Roman peristyles.
What is a cloister?
A cloister is a courtyard garden inside a building. Often people grew herbs or fruit or flowers in the garden. Around the sides of the courtyard there is a covered walkway, with a waist-high wall between you and the garden in the middle. On top of the waist-high wall, small columns hold up the roof of the walkway.
What does “cloister” mean?
Cloister means a closed space, and some cloisters were enclosed so that nuns and monks could get some fresh air and have a garden without anyone seeing them or distracting them from their prayers. But other cloisters were just private courtyards, where people could hang out without danger of being attacked by enemies.
Reusing Roman columns
But by the time of the Renaissance, life in Europe wasn’t so dangerous anymore, and cloisters went out of fashion. Instead people designed bigger, more open, and less protected gardens.