In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs.
In the original use of the word, these buildings served no other purpose. 18th century English gardens and French landscape gardening often featured Roman temples, which symbolized classical virtues or ideals. Other 18th century garden follies represented Chinese temples, Egyptian pyramids, or ruined abbeys, to represent different continents or historical eras. Many follies, particularly during famine, such as the Irish potato famine, were built as a form of poor relief, to provide employment for peasants and unemployed artisans.