In Spanish and Latin American architecture, a courtyard open to the sky within a building. A Spanish development of the Roman atrium, it is comparable to the Italian cortile but provides more seclusion, possibly due to Moorish custom. The patio of the contemporary U.S. house is a paved outdoor area adjoining or partially enclosed by the building and often used for outdoor dining.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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