A veranda is a roofed porch, sometimes with walls or partial walls, that is attached to a central building, such as a house. This structure became popular during the British colonial era in India and from there was brought to other parts of the world. Though similar in both appearance and function to a pergola or a gazebo, a veranda by definition must always be attached to another building.
During the Victorian era in India, verandas were often partially enclosed by filigree metal work. The delicate twists in the filigree were considered stylish and aesthetically pleasing by the English at that time. The addition of an ornately decorated porch to the front of a house added elegance to the dwelling while providing a covered area from which to enjoy a view or a garden. After gaining popularity in India, the veranda was exported to British colonies in Australia and New Zealand. Creole houses in the United States, especially in New Orleans, are also known for their use of verandas.
A popular structure in outdoor architecture, the veranda allows a garden area or vista to be enjoyed even in less than perfect weather conditions. In the heat of the afternoon sun, the roof can provide shade, and in rain it can offer shelter so a person can remain outdoors without getting wet. When built with partial walls, it may also provide protection from wind. These covered porches can now be found in many parts of the world.
The exact origin of the word veranda is not certain. Though there is some evidence that suggests it is from the Spanish or Portuguese languages, it is most likely a borrowed word from an Indian language. There are several languages in India that currently use the word, and given that these structures first gained popularity in India in the 1800’s, it is likely that the word was first used in one of them.
Verandas are similar to both pergolas and gazebos, as all three of these structures have a roof and may or may not be built with walls. Pergolas, which are sometimes disguised to appear to be a part of the garden, are often made from wood and trellised with living vines. These are usually used as a walkway between the main house and a garden area. Structurally similar to the veranda, a gazebo is covered porch that is unattached to another building. These are usually found in gardens or parks.