In the Mediterranean Basin and the Near East, a kiosk (Persian کوشک Kushk; Arabic كشك Koshk; Turkish Köşk; Urdu Khoka;French Kiosque; German Kiosk; Polish Kiosk; Portuguese Quiosque; Romanian Chioşc; Bulgarian кьошк, kyoshk; Serbian Kiosk or Киоск; and Spanish Quiosco or kiosco) is a small, separated garden pavilion open on some or all sides. Kiosks were common in Persia, India, Pakistan, and in the Ottoman Empire from the 13th century onward. Today, there are many kiosks in and around the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, and they are still a relatively common sight in Greece. Turkish kiosks are usually polygonal. Indian Kiosk are generally called "Gumti" and sometimes "khokha" too.
The word, which is of Persian origin, refers to an object that acts as a shadow or shade-maker.
The word "köşk" is currently used to refer to an old Ottoman style building, made of wood and clad with natural stones, with multiple stories, mainly used as a summer or winter recreational residence for the wealthy within the old Ottoman Imperial Palace. During the 18th century, Turkish influences in Europe established the kiosk (gazebo) as an important feature in European gardens.
In English-speaking countries, a kiosk is a booth with an open window on one side. Some vendors operate from kiosks, selling small, inexpensive consumables such as newspapers, magazines, lighters, street maps, cigarettes, and confections.
An information kiosk (or information booth) dispenses free information in the form of maps, pamphlets, and other literature, and/or advice offered by an attendant.
An electronic kiosk (or computer kiosk or interactive kiosk) houses a computer terminal that often employs custom kiosk software designed to function flawlessly while preventing users from accessing system functions. Indeed, kiosk mode is a euphemism for such a mode of software operation. Computerized kiosks may store data locally, or retrieve it from a computer network. Some computer kiosks provide a free, informational public service, while others serve a commercial purpose. Touchscreens, trackballs, computer keyboards, and pushbuttons are all typical input devices for interactive computer kiosk.
The kiosk may be defined as an open summer-house or pavilion usually having its roof supported by pillars with screened or totally open walls. As a building type it was first introduced by the Seljuks as a small building attached to the main mosque, which consisted of a domed hall with open arched sides. This architectural concept gradually evolved into a small yet grand residence used by Ottoman sultans, the most famous examples of which are quite possibly the Tiled Kiosk ("Çinili Köşk" in Turkish) and Baghdad Kiosk ("Bağdat Köşkü" in Turkish). The former was built in 1473 by Mehmed II ("the Conqueror") at the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul, and consists of a two storey building topped with a dome and having open sides overlooking the gardens of the palace. The Baghdad Koshk was also built at the Topkapı Palace in 1638-39, by Sultan Murad IV. The building is again domed, offering direct views onto the gardens and park of the Palace as well as the architecture of the city of Istanbul.
Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730) also built a glass room of the Sofa Kiosk at the Topkapı Palace incorporating some Western elements, such as the gilded brazier designed by the elder John Claude Duplessis which was given to the Ottoman Ambassador by King Louis XV of France.
The first English contact with Turkish Kiosk came through Lady Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), the wife of the English ambassador to Istanbul, who in a letter written in 1 April 1717 to Anne Thistlethwayte, mentions a “chiosk” describing it as "raised by 9 or 10 steps and enclosed with gilded lattices" (Halsband, 1965 ed.). Historic sources confirm the transfer of these kiosks to European monarchs. Stanisław Leszczyński, king of Poland and father-in-law of Louis XV, built kiosks for himself based on his memories of his captivity in Turkey. These kiosks were used as garden pavilions serving coffee and beverages but later were converted into band stands and tourist information stands decorating most European gardens, parks and high streets.