The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Alcazar Garden Seville

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499. The oldest garden in Spain is said to be that of the Moorish palace of Alcazar, near Seville; but a great part of this palace was constructed between the years 1353 and 1364, by Peter the Cruel, who exactly copied the Arabian style of the ancient part of the edifice; and part was erected by Charles V. The outside of the Alcazar is miserable in its appearance; but the first court after entering the gate has a very grand effect; the part looking into that court is purely Arabic in its style, though ascertained to have been constructed since the conquest by the Christians. The courts are ornamented with marble fountains, and are well shaded with corridors, supported by marble pillars. The garden of the Alcazar is said to have been laid out by the Moors, and is preserved in its original state. It contains walks paved with marble, and parterres laid out with evergreens, and shaded with orange trees. In many parts of it there are baths, supplied by marble fountains from an aqueduct, and there is a contrivance for rendering the walks one continued fountain by forcing up small streams of water from minute pipes in the joinings of the slabs, which in this climate produces a most grateful effect. As a specimen of an Arabian garden in its original state, this is an interesting object, and we naturally associate with it recollections gathered from the Eastern writers; especially from the Song of Solomon, in which the descriptions very well agree with this garden; for, in addition to the other circumstances, it is completely walled round, and is secluded from every one, except the inhabitants of one part of the palace. (Jacob's Travels in the South of Spain.) The remains of a reputed Moorish garden still exist at Granada, another residence of the Arabian kings. It Is situated on the Sierra del Sol, or mountain of the sun, occupies above twenty acres, is covered with a wood cut into quarters by straight and winding walks, and is interspersed with fountains: the latter sometimes ostentatiously displayed, and at other times secreted so as to escape notice till they are brought to play on the spectator, and to raise a laugh at his expense. Sir John Carr mentions that they take a particular delight in playing off these reversed showers which rise from the principal walks and places of repose, against the ladies. Several of the fountains, and many of the walks, were formed by Charles V.; so that, except certain venerable cypresses, and the old palace, no other part can with certainty be traced to the days of the Moorish kings. These cypresses, Brooke informs us, are of prodigious size, being the growth of several centuries. (Travels in Spain, &c., vol. ii. p. 212.)