Grottoes were very popular in medieval Europe because of their interesting acoustic effects. Whenever there was a suitable cave or hollow in the rock, the nobility of the time found a way to convert it into a theatre of sorts, where there were musical and theatrical performances.
Today, with custom built theatres, grottoes are not at the height of fashion; however, for any discerning patron with an eye for the performing arts, a grotto can still be the site of alternate performative art. Since caves are in short supply, here are some tips on how to build a grotto.
Location MattersThe atmosphere of enchantment that grottos carried was mostly due their location within forests and on the side of cliffs. If you plan to build a grotto you first need to scout a suitable location somewhere close to a forest and preferably in a quiet neighbourhood. The room or cabin must be entirely sound proof so that no sounds from the outside can come in, nor anything from the inside get out.
In order to recreate the echoes in a real grotto, the architect will need to alter the texture of the walls inside and play around with dimensions to create a tunnel effect. To mimic a cave, you can use stone wall cladding and make the walls look like stone, especially with granite. Hidden speakers and elaborate sound equipment can otherwise mimic the acoustics of an actual grotto.
The best grottos in Europe were famous not just for their location and sound, but also for their lighting. During evening performances, torches were used. Architects and builders back then sometimes used peep holes and skylights to let in natural light and manipulated it by using mirrors and indoor pools. To make the lighting more magical, use greens, blues and purple lights hidden in the walls or buried in the granite paving so that the light shoots upwards and illuminates everything softly. Remember that the texture of the walls and floor counts a lot when it comes to lighting so play around with an unfinished look to make it more interesting.
Because grottoes were mostly located underground, the atmosphere was cool and also wet. There was water trickling down the walls and, in some of the larger grottoes, forming into pools as well. Putting in an air conditioner is great to ensure breathable and cold air, but in order to maintain the atmospheric conditions, you will also need a humidifier or have water trickling down the walls to be collected into discreetly laid drains and then pumped back up again.