Grotto

Grotto

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A grotto is any type of natural or artificial cave
Cave
A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. The term applies to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness. The word cave also includes smaller spaces like rock shelters, sea caves, and grottos.Speleology is the science of exploration and study...

 that is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans. When it is not an artificial garden feature
Garden feature
Garden features are physical elements, both natural and manmade, used in garden design.*Avenue*Cascade*Belvedere*Deck*Duck Island, Duck house, or Duck Canopy*Duck pond*Feengrotten*Folly*Fountain*Gazebo*Grotto*Hedge*Herbaceous border*Lawn...

, a grotto is often a small cave near water and often flooded or liable to flood at high tide
High Tide
High Tide was a band formed in 1969 by Tony Hill , Simon House , Peter Pavli and Roger Hadden .-History:...

. The picturesque Grotta Azzurra at Capri
Capri
Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Southern Italy...

 and the grotto of the villa of Tiberius
Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

 in the Bay of Naples are outstanding natural seashore grottoes. Whether in tidal water or high up in hills, they are very often in limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 where the acidity dissolved in percolating water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 has dissolved
Solvation
Solvation, also sometimes called dissolution, is the process of attraction and association of molecules of a solvent with molecules or ions of a solute...

 the carbonate
Carbonate
In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid, characterized by the presence of the carbonate ion, . The name may also mean an ester of carbonic acid, an organic compound containing the carbonate group C2....

s of the rock matrix as it has passed through what were originally small fissures. See karst topography
Karst topography
Karst topography is a geologic formation shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite, but has also been documented for weathering resistant rocks like quartzite given the right conditions.Due to subterranean drainage, there...

, cavern.

Mantic springs that issued from grottoes were a feature of Apollo's oracles at Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

, and Clarus
Clarus
Clarus in the territory of Colophon in the Ionian coast of Asia Minor was a much-revered, much-famed cult center described by Pausanias ....

. The new-built Hellenistic city of Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

 was provided with rock-cut artificial grottos with "naturalistic" features. At the great Roman sanctuary of Praeneste
Palestrina
Palestrina is an ancient city and comune with a population of about 18,000, in Lazio, c. 35 km east of Rome...

 south of Rome, the oldest portion of the primitive sanctuary was situated on the next-to-lowest terrace, in a grotto in the natural rock where there was a spring that developed into a well. Such a sacred spring had its native nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

, who might be honored in a grotto-like nymphaeum
Nymphaeum
A nymphaeum or nymphaion , in ancient Greece and Rome, was a monument consecrated to the nymphs, especially those of springs....

, where the watery element was never far to seek.

Tiberius filled his grotto with sculptures to recreate a mythological setting, perhaps Polyphemus
Polyphemus
Polyphemus is the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes. His name means "much spoken of" or "famous". Polyphemus plays a pivotal role in Homer's Odyssey.-In Homer's Odyssey:...

' cave in the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

. The numinous quality of the grotto is still more ancient, of course: in a grotto near Knossos
Knossos
Knossos , also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and store rooms close to a central square...

 in Crete, Eileithyia had been venerated even before Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 palace-building, and farther back in time the immanence of the divine in a grotto is an aspect of the sacred caves of Lascaux
Lascaux
Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne. They contain some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic art. These paintings are estimated to be...

.

The word comes from Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 grotta, Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

 grupta, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 crypta, (a crypt
Crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

). It is related by a historical accident to the word grotesque in the following way: in the late 15th century, Romans unearthed by accident Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

's Domus Aurea
Domus Aurea
The Domus Aurea was a large landscaped portico villa, designed to take advantage of artificially created landscapes built in the heart of Ancient Rome by the Emperor Nero after the Great Fire of Rome had cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Palatine...

on the Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city...

, a series of rooms underground (as they had become over time), that were decorated in designs of garlands, slender architectural framework, foliations and animals. The Romans who found them thought them very strange, a sentiment enhanced by their 'underworld' source. Because of the situation in which they were discovered, this form of decoration was given the name grottesche or grotesque
Grotesque
The word grotesque comes from the same Latin root as "Grotto", meaning a small cave or hollow. The original meaning was restricted to an extravagant style of Ancient Roman decorative art rediscovered and then copied in Rome at the end of the 15th century...

.


Garden grottoes


The creation of artificial grottoes was an introduction of Mannerist style
Mannerism
Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe...

 to Italian, and then to French, gardens of the mid 16th century. Two famous grottoes in the Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens are a park in Florence, Italy, that is home to a collection of sculptures dating from the 16th through the 18th centuries, with some Roman antiquities.-History and layout:...

 of Palazzo Pitti
Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti , in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio...

 were begun by Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

 and completed by Ammanati
Bartolomeo Ammanati
Bartolomeo Ammannati was an Italian architect and sculptor, born at Settignano, near Florence. He studied under Baccio Bandinelli and Jacopo Sansovino and closely imitated the style of Michelangelo.He was more distinguished in architecture than in sculpture...

 and Buontalenti
Bernardo Buontalenti
Bernardo Buontalenti, byname of Bernardo Delle Girandole was an Italian stage designer, architect, theatrical designer, military engineer and artist.-Biography:Buontalenti was born in Florence....

 between 1583 and 1593. One of these grottoes originally housed the Prisoners of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

. Perhaps still earlier than the Boboli grotto was one in the gardens laid out by Niccolò Tribolo
Niccolò Tribolo
Niccolò di Raffaello di Niccolò dei Pericoli, called "Il Tribolo" was an Italian Mannerist artist in the service of Cosimo I de' Medici in his natal city of Florence.-Life:...

 (died 1550) at the Medici Villa Castello
Niccolò Tribolo
Niccolò di Raffaello di Niccolò dei Pericoli, called "Il Tribolo" was an Italian Mannerist artist in the service of Cosimo I de' Medici in his natal city of Florence.-Life:...

, near Florence. At Pratolino
Villa di Pratolino
The Villa di Pratolino was a Renaissance patrician villa in Vaglia, Tuscany, Italy. It was mostly demolished in 1820: its remains are now part of Villa Demidoff, 12 km north of Florence, reached from the main road to Bologna.-History:...

, in spite of the dryness of the site, there was a Grotto of Cupid (surviving), with water tricks for the unwary visitor. The Fonte di Fata Morgana
Fonte di Fata Morgana
The Fonte di Fata Morgana , locally called the Casina delle Fate , at Grassina, not far from Florence, Italy, in the comune of Bagno a Ripoli, is a small garden building, built in 1573–4 as a garden feature in the extensive grounds of the Villa Riposo of Bernardo Vecchietti on the slope of the hill...

 ('Fata Morgana's Spring') at Grassina, not far from Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, is a small garden building, built in 1573-4 as a garden feature in the extensive grounds of the Villa "Riposo" of Bernardo Vecchietti. It is enriched with sculptures in the manner of Giambologna
Giambologna
Giambologna, born as Jean Boulogne, incorrectly known as Giovanni da Bologna and Giovanni Bologna , was a sculptor, known for his marble and bronze statuary in a late Renaissance or Mannerist style.- Biography :...

.

The outside of such grottoes might be architectural or designed like an enormous rock or a rustic porch or rocky overhang; inside one found a temple or fountains, stalactites and even imitation gems and shells (sometimes made in ceramic); herms and mermaids, mythological subjects suited to the space: naiad
Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads or Naiades were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks....

s, or river gods whose urns spilled water into pools. Damp grottoes were cool places to retreat from the Italian sun, but they also became fashionable in the cool drizzle of the Île-de-France
Île-de-France (province)
The province of Île-de-France or Isle de France is an historical province of France, and the one at the centre of power during most of French history...

; near Moscow, at Kuskovo
Kuskovo
Kuskovo was the summer country house and estate of the Sheremetev family. Built in the mid-18th century, it was originally situated several miles to the east of Moscow but now is part of the East District of the city. It was one of the first great summer country estates of the Russian nobility,...

 the Sheremetev estate there is a handsome Summer Grotto, built in 1775.

Grottoes could also serve as baths, as at Palazzo del Tè
Palazzo del Te
Palazzo del Te or Palazzo Te is a palace in the suburbs of Mantua, Italy. It is a fine example of the mannerist style of architecture, the acknowledged masterpiece of Giulio Romano...

, where in the 'Casino della Grotta', a small suite of intimate rooms laid out around a grotto and loggetta (covered balcony), courtiers once bathed in the small cascade that splashed over the pebbles and shells encrusted in the floor and walls.
Grottoes have served as chapels, or at Villa Farnese
Villa Farnese
The Villa Farnese, also known as Villa Caprarola, is a mansion in the town of Caprarola in the province of Viterbo, Northern Lazio, Italy, approximately 50 kilometres north-west of Rome...

 at Caprarola, a little theater designed in the grotto manner. They were often combined with cascading fountains in Renaissance gardens.

The grotto designed by Bernard Palissy
Bernard Palissy
Bernard Palissy was a French Huguenot potter, hydraulics engineer and craftsman, famous for having struggled for sixteen years to imitate Chinese porcelain...

 for Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

's château in Paris, the Tuileries, was renowned. One also finds grottos in the gardens designed by André Le Nôtre
André Le Nôtre
André Le Nôtre was a French landscape architect and the principal gardener of King Louis XIV of France...

 for Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

. In England, an early garden grotto was built at Wilton House
Wilton House
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years....

 in the 1630s, probably by Isaac de Caus
Isaac de Caus
Isaac de Caus was a French landscaper, and architect. He arrived in England in 1612 to carry on the work that his brother Salomon de Caus had left behind. He is noted for his work at Wilton House, and Lincoln's Inn....

.

Grottoes were eminently suitable for less formal gardening too. Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

's grotto is almost all that survives of one of the very first landscape gardens
Landscape architecture
Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve environmental, socio-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions...

 in England, at Twickenham
Twickenham
Twickenham is a large suburban town southwest of central London. It is the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and one of the locally important district centres identified in the London Plan...

. There are grottoes in the famous landscape gardens of Painshill Park
Painshill Park
Painshill Park , near Cobham, Surrey, England, is one of the finest remaining examples of an 18th century English landscape park. It was designed and created between 1738 and 1773 by the Hon. Charles Hamilton .Painshill Park is owned by Elmbridge Borough Council and managed by the Painshill Park...

, Stowe, Clandon Park
Clandon Park
Clandon Park is an 18th century Palladian mansion in West Clandon just outside Guildford, Surrey, in the United Kingdom. It has been a National Trust property since 1956....

 and Stourhead
Stourhead
Stourhead is a 2,650 acre estate at the source of the River Stour near Mere, Wiltshire, England. The estate includes a Palladian mansion, the village of Stourton, gardens, farmland, and woodland...

. Scott's Grotto is a series of interconnected chambers, extending some 67 ft into the chalk hillside on the outskirts of Ware, Hertfordshire; built during the late 18th century, the chambers and tunnels are lined with shells, flints and pieces of coloured glass http://scotts-grotto.org/CMS/index.php. The Romantic generation of tourists might not actually visit Fingal's Cave
Fingal's Cave
Fingal's Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, part of a National Nature Reserve owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It is formed entirely from hexagonally jointed basalt columns, similar in structure to the Giant's Causeway in Northern...

, located in the isolated Hebrides
Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

, but they heard of it, perhaps through Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

's "Hebrides Overture
Hebrides Overture
The Hebrides Overture , Op. 26, also known as Fingal's Cave , is a concert overture composed by Felix Mendelssohn. Written in 1830, the piece was inspired by a cavern known as Fingal's Cave on Staffa, an island in the Hebrides archipelago located off the west coast of Scotland...

", better known as "Fingal's Cave
Hebrides Overture
The Hebrides Overture , Op. 26, also known as Fingal's Cave , is a concert overture composed by Felix Mendelssohn. Written in 1830, the piece was inspired by a cavern known as Fingal's Cave on Staffa, an island in the Hebrides archipelago located off the west coast of Scotland...

," which was inspired by his visit. In the 19th century, when miniature Matterhorn
Matterhorn
The Matterhorn , Monte Cervino or Mont Cervin , is a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Its summit is 4,478 metres high, making it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points...

s and rock-gardens became fashionable, a grotto might be nearby, as at Ascott House
Ascott House
Ascott House, sometimes referred to as simply Ascott, is situated in the hamlet of Ascott near Wing in Buckinghamshire, England. It is set in a estate....

. In Bavaria, Ludwig
Ludwig II of Bavaria
Ludwig II was King of Bavaria from 1864 until shortly before his death. He is sometimes called the Swan King and der Märchenkönig, the Fairy tale King...

's Linderhof
Linderhof
Linderhof Palace is in Germany, in southwest Bavaria near Ettal Abbey. It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed.-Development of the building:...

 contains an evocation of the grotto under Venusberg, which figured in Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser (opera)
Tannhäuser is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two German legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg...

.

See also

  • The Shell Grotto
    The Shell Grotto
    The Shell Grotto - - is a late-18th-century stone built, slate roofed grotto decorated with shells and animal bones on the interior. It stands on a prominent ridge 700 ft above sea level, within the boundary Pontypool Park, Torfaen in South Wales. It is considered to be the best surviving...

  • Shell Grotto, Margate
    Shell Grotto, Margate
    The Shell Grotto is an ornate subterranean passageway in Margate, Kent. Almost all the surface area of the walls and roof is covered in mosaics created entirely of seashells, totalling about of mosaic, or 4.6 million shells. It was discovered in 1835 but its age remains unknown...

  • Romanticism
    Romanticism
    Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

  • Grotto at Goldney House
  • Seokguram
    Seokguram
    The Seokguram Grotto is a hermitage and part of the Bulguksa temple complex. It lies four kilometers east of the temple on Mt. Tohamsan, in Gyeongju, South Korea. It is classified as National Treasure No. 24 by the South Korean government and is located at 994, Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju-si,...

     Grotto
  • Folly
    Folly
    In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs...

     when applied to artificial caves
  • Shellhouses and Grottoes (Shire Books 2001) Hazelle Jackson
  • Feengrotten
    Feengrotten
    The Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes are the "most colourful grottoes in the world" . The grottoes are situated near Saalfeld in Thuringia, Germany. They were originally mines, and at one point were named Jeremia's Luck. At the Fairy Grottoes, you can take three different tours.-External...

  • Jeita Grotto
    Jeita Grotto
    The Jeita Grotto In 1958, Lebanese speleologists discovered the upper galleries above the lower cave which have been accommodated with an access tunnel and a series of walkways to enable tourists safe access without disturbing the natural landscape. The upper galleries house the world's largest...

  • Grotto of the Redemption
    Grotto of the Redemption
    The Grotto of the Redemption is a religious monument located in West Bend, Iowa, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City. A conglomeration of nine grottos depicting scenes in life of Jesus, the Grotto contains a large collection of minerals and petrifications and is believed to be the largest...


Further reading

  • Jones, B., Follies and Grottoes, (London) 1953.
  • Miller, Naomi Heavenly Caves: Reflections on the Garden Grotto (New York:Braziller) 1982. Tracing the development of the grotto in Antiquity to modern times.
  • Jackson, Hazelle Shell Houses and Grottoes (England: Shire Books) 2001. Traces the development of the grotto in Italy during the Renaissance and its popularity in the UK from the eighteenth century to the present. Includes gazetteer of UK grottoes.

External links


  • http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~niless/awsthome.htm
  • The Folly Fellowship- An organization which celebrates architectural follies
  • http://www.oblatemissions.org/cms/index.cfm/path/91772/94820/ - Lourdes Grotto in San Antonio Texas