The Landscape Guide

Sacred Space: Religion and Garden Design History

Religion has been one of the prime reasons for making enclosed outdoor space and it seems likely that sacred landscapes were venerated and sacred gardens made long before religious buildings were considered. Robert Louis Stevenson made a significant remark: 'I find I never weary of great churches. It is my favourite kind of mountain scenery'. (An Inland Voyage, p 35). Early civilizations designated certain areas as sanctuaries, for religious purposes, and bounded them with markers, fences and walls. Sir James Frazer gives much information on religious sanctuaries and sacred trees in The Golden Bough. In primitive societies the Earth Mother was one of the earliest deities. Her marriage with the Sky God produced life on earth.

For an overview of Asian gardens and the significance of sacred space as a design objective, see the Companion Page on Tom Turner's  Asian gardens: history, beliefs and design 3000 BCE to 2000 CE London:Routledge 2010  ISBN: 978-0-415-49687-2

Sacred Trees

Babylonian Gardens

Egyptian Sanctuaries

Taoism, Nature and the Isles of the Immortals

Shinto and Nature

Confucian Planning

Zoroastrian Gardens

Minoan and Greek Sanctuaries

Sacred Groves and Roman Gardens

Jewish Gardens

Christian Gardens

Islamic Gardens

Buddhist Gardens

Hindu Gardens

See blog post on Glastonbury Tor as a sacred space