A large porticoed garden is behind the Roman theatre stage wall (scaenae frons) in Mérida. Above all, this peristyle garden served as a recreation and rest area. Statues of members of the Imperial family adorn the niches within the surrounding walls.
What is a peristyle in Roman architecture
The peristyle is an open courtyard or garden area surrounded by columns supporting a shady roofed portico. That is to say, in modern terms, it is a four-sided columned porch surrounding an inner courtyard or garden.
The purpose of the peristyle garden
The Roman peristyle garden, adapted from the Greeks, was primarily used to beautify large houses and public areas and secondly, create a recreational space. An excellent example of a peristyle garden is behind the stage in the Roman Theatre in Mérida. It served both as a recreation and rest area.
A small sacred room (aula sacra) dedicated to the imperial cult is at the bottom of the garden, aligned with the main door of the stage (valva regia). It features a figure of the emperor Caesar Augustus, dressed as Pontiff Maximus.
In the northern corner of the peristyle, are the remains of latrines. Also, the remains of a house, known as Basilica House, including a courtyard, columns and various murals, built after the abandonment of the theatre is present to the west. This could have been part of a primitive Christian church.