The Garden Guide

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

Shobra Palace Garden Egypt

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815. Shoobra, the country scat of Mohammed Pacha, is thus described by Mrs. Lushington : - 'Proceeding by a fine road, planted on each side with acacias and sycamores, whose growth, owing to the richness of the soil, kept pace with the impatient disposition of the pacha, who had, at one sweep, cut down the avenue of mulberry trees three years before, we arrived at the house, which is situated close to the Nile, and commands a fine prospect of the river and city. The exterior of the building exhibited nothing remarkable. On ascending a terrace a few feet square, we passed through a rough wooden door, such as is fit only for an outhouse, and found ourselves in the pacha's room of audience. The gardens of Shoobra, with their golden fruit and aromatic flowers, having been already described by former travellers, I shall pass on to the magnificent pavilion, which constitutes the chief embellishment of the place, and which was completed only a few weeks before my visit. This pavilion is about 250 feet long by 200 broad. On its sides run four galleries or colonnades, composed of elegant pillars of the finest white marble (of an order resembling the composite), surrounding a sunken court of six feet deep, paved throughout with the same beautiful material. At each corner of the colonnade is a terrace, over which water passes into the court below in a murmuring cascade, having on its ledges figures of fish, sculptured so true to nature, that, with the flowing stream, they appear to move. The whole supply of water rises again through a fountain in the centre, and re-appears in a beautiful jet-d'eau, lofty, sparkling, and abundant. One seldom sees an exhibition of this character without apprehending a failure of water ; but here the works are fed by the Nile, and the spectator is aware that its exuberance will not cease. In fine weather the pacha occasionally resorts to this splendid fountain with the ladies of his haram, who row about in the flooded court for the amusement of his highness, while he is seated in the colonnade. Great is the commotion when the ladies descend into the garden. A signal is given, and the gardeners vanish in an instant. We were all struck with the ruddy cheeks and healthy appearance of these men. They were principally Greeks ; and the gay colours of their fanciful costume,-each with a nosegay or bunch of fruit in his hand,-combined with the luxuriant scenery around, gave them more the semblance of actors in a ballet representing a fete in Arcadia, than the real labourers of a Turkish despot.' (Journey overland from India, &c.) [Editor's Note: Shoobra Palace was formerly the favourite residence of Mehemet All and was later bought by his son Halim Pasha. Shobra was accessible by rail from Cairo]