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Last edited 08 Sep 2021
A cloister is a type of covered walkway, typically found in religious buildings such as convents, monasteries, or cathedrals. Cloisters often have a colonnade to one side, opening onto a quadrangle or garth (a cloister garden). They are also found in some colleges such as those at Oxford and Cambridge. The word cloister is derived from the Latin ‘claustrum’, meaning ‘enclosure’.
In Roman architecture, they were known as a 'peristyle'. A shady roofed portico was supported by the columns or square pillars surrounding the garden. The inner walls were often decorated with landscape paintings or trompe l'oeil architecture. The courtyard often contained flowers and shrubs, fountains, benches, sculptures, and ponds.
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