The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Cyrene Cemetery

Previous - Next

826. The cemetery of Cyrene (fig. 229.) covers a terraced hill; and the rock, which rises perpendicularly from these terraces, is excavated into innumerable tombs, which have been formed with great labour and taste ; and the greater number of them have been adorned with architectural facades, built against the smooth sides of the rock itself, contributing materially to increase the interest and to add to the beauty of the drives. When the rock would serve for the porticoes in front of the tombs, without any addition of building, it was left in the forms required ; and, if only a part of it would serve, the remainder was added by the architect. This mode of proceeding added greatly to the strength of the work, and was probably attended, at the same time, with a saving of labour. The outer sides of the roads, where they descended from one range to another, were ornamented with sarcophagi and monumental tombs; and the whole sloping space between the galleries was completely filled up with similar structures. These, as well as the excavated tombs, exhibit very superior taste and execution ; and the clusters of dark green furze and slender shrubs, with which they are now partly overgrown, give an additional effect, by their contrast of forms and colour, to the multitude of white buildings which spring up from the midst of them. Among the tombs which have been excavated on the northern face of the heights at Cyrene, are several, on a much larger scale than the rest, which appear to have been public vaults: others seem to have been appropriated to single families. Beechey found two with white marble sarcophagi, ornamented with figures, and wreaths of flowers in relief, which he suspected to be Roman. (Ibid., p. 446.)