Pergola: history and evolution over the years

The pergola is an architectural element that has successfully stood the test of time. Despite changes in style and materials used, the pergola has enjoyed great popularity for more than 3,000 years. It not only adds style and elegance to any outdoor space, but also serves practical purposes such as providing shade and maintaining plants.

In the article, we will look at its long and rich history, passing through different eras and cultures, to see how it arrived at its modern and functional vision, suitable for both business spaces and family properties.

Origin of the word pergola

The word "pergola" is derived from the Latin word "pergula" which means an overhang or canopy. The term was originally used to describe structures that served to provide shade or support plant vines in ancient gardens. Over time, the meaning of the word expanded to encompass various types of structures that can be found in people's gardens and yards around the world.

The first known use of the term was in 1654 by the English writer and gardener John Evelyn, who used it in his diary as "a pergola or grandstand built for viewing sports". It is curious that at the same time pergola structures began to be created in East Asia, but they had curved beams because they drew inspiration from the Asian pagodas.

Pergola: history


Pergolas have a long and interesting history that begins with ancient civilizations and passes through different eras to reach the modern world. Each era adds its own unique elements and stylistic features to this architectural element, and we will look at them in more detail in the following lines.

The pergola in the architecture of Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, pergolas were mainly used in the gardens of pharaohs and nobles. They were wooden or stone structures covered with vines and other vegetation that provided shade and coolness in the hot climate. Pergolas were not only practical, but also a symbol of status and wealth. Interestingly, for example, one of the earliest records of the pergola is in a surviving garden plan dating from around 1400 BC that belonged to an Egyptian high court official at Thebes.

The pergola in the architecture of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

In ancient Greece and Rome, pergolas were widely used in public and private gardens. The Greeks built them from marble and stone, decorating them with sculptures and reliefs. The Romans further developed this element by creating pergolas that not only provided shade, but were also integrated into the architecture of villas and public baths.
The Romans also often used pergolas to grow vines that wrapped around the columns of the structure, and the grapes were then used to make wine.

The pergola in the architecture of the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages pergolas became more functional and less decorative. They are mainly used in monastery gardens and castles, where they provide places for relaxation, solitude and reflection. Although architectural styles during this period were simpler and strictly functional, pergolas continued to be an important element in garden planning.

The pergola in Renaissance and Baroque architecture

With the revival of the arts and sciences in the Renaissance, pergolas once again took center stage in the gardens of nobles and kings. They were a particularly popular and common construction in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Usually made of brick or stone columns, at the time they were distinguished by their large size and lavish design. They became more elaborate and decorative, often featuring ornate columns and arches.
The Baroque era added even more opulence, with pergolas becoming larger and grander, often serving as the main focal element in palace gardens.

The pergola in the architecture of the modern world

In the modern world, pergolas continue to be a popular element in landscape design. They are adapted to different styles and needs, incorporating modern materials and technologies. Pergolas are used not only in private homes, but also in public spaces such as parks and restaurants, where they serve as elements to create cozy and functional recreation areas.

Pergola: evolution

To this day, the exact reason that inspired the creation of pergolas is not clear. Did they serve only as an aesthetically beautiful addition to the outdoor space, or because of the need for shelter from an adverse climate?
Pergolas are the perfect solution for both. They were a functional means of growing certain types of plants, for example for vineyards, as well as forming beautiful hanging gardens for the homes of wealthy individuals of high society.
They were also an elegant way to provide shade and protection from the strong rays of the sun or surprise spring storms.
This is most likely what has also made them such a timeless "evergreen" structure that can often be found in homes or business spaces.

Types of modern pergolas

pergola-exampleIn the 19th and 20th centuries, pergolas acquired a more classical design and formed the basis for the design of structures in modern times. In the early 2000s, advances in technology and materials made it possible to start a new stage for pergolas. From structures for climbing plants and a covered seating area in the gardens, they have become almost a transitional building, connecting the home or business with an open landscaped space.

While in the past the pergola was made of materials such as wood, stone or brick, today modern materials and technologies allow to achieve a modern vision when creating the structure.

Materials such as aluminum and stainless steel are used, which contribute to the impressive appearance of pergolas, as well as their durability and resistance to external climatic conditions and pests.

Aluminum is among the best materials for building pergolas, because of the excellent ratio between strength, weight and affordable price, and steel - because of the strength and durability it provides.

The roof part of the pergolas also has many improvements. In addition to various additional insulation and drainage systems, it also includes a motorized part that allows easy control of the roof and sun protection or rain protection at the push of a button. You can read more about the advantages of modern pergolas over those made of natural materials such as wood or stone in our article "Why aluminum pergolas are sustainable solutions for outdoor spaces".

Classic pergolas

Classic pergolas are an aluminum structure made of three-layer flame retardant fabric. Their roof is automated and can be flat, curved or spline type. These pergolas can become a great addition to the terrace of any home or to the outdoor space of a commercial establishment. They are extremely strong and durable construction that will serve you for years, and the included improvements like drainage systems will save you trouble due to adverse weather conditions.

Bioclimatic pergolas

Bioclimatic pergolas represent a modern approach to traditional structures. They are made of modern materials such as aluminium, and are equipped with innovative technologies such as adjustable louvres that allow control of sunlight and ventilation. These pergolas offer flexibility and comfort, being able to adapt to different climates and user preferences.

In conclusion, the pergola is an architectural element with a long and rich history that has evolved significantly over the centuries. From the simple wooden structures of Ancient Egypt to the modern bioclimatic pergolas, they continue to play an important role in creating cozy and elegant outdoor spaces. Whether you prefer a classic or modern pergola, these structures offer endless possibilities for personalization and creating unique, modern and functional spaces for recreation and entertainment.

In case you need a quality pergola for your terrace, which will make the space you have a beautiful and elegant corner, then Paradise Pergo is a suitable choice for you.
The Paradise Pergo team is always here to answer all your questions. We work only with the highest quality materials provided by proven brands such as Somfy, Mobihel, Continental and others.

Explore our offerings and contact us to help you make your vision come true with our exquisite awnings and pergolas!


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