The Alhambra garden
Spain has preserved at least one wonderful legacy from the Arabs—the Islamic gardens of the Alhambra at Granada. Much has been lost by actual destruction, neglects and restoration, but the spirit of the ancient civilisation is alive and unconquerable, though we have now only the shadow of its former glory. Originally the place was (like Az-Zahra) one single and complete household; very likely the park occupied the lowest terrace—that is, the narrow valley between the real Alhambra hill and Monte Mauror, which still bears the name of Almadeo de la Alhambra, or Alhambra Park. The beautiful elms that are there now were probably planted by England's Duke of Wellington, though tradition would have it that this is a burial-place of Nebrissian kings.
Terrace-gardens climbed the slope of the Alhambra hill, and traces of them may yet be found in the “ Jardin de los Arcades.” The Renaissance gardens of Charles V. were there at one time with fine entrance and fountains.
The great Moorish castle garden stands on the broad spur of the hill. We get a picture of the old situation from the inside and from some of the courts : at the so-called Myrtle Court (Fig. 108) the original plan is very clearly shown.
A canal, wide as a cistern, cuts through the whole length of this court, which has arcades round it. At each narrow side it ends in a fountain, and on both sides there are thick hedges of myrtle. We may suppose that originally the vegetation was tall and fine, the shrubs rich in sweet-scented blossom, and full of life with strange birds and other creatures. In the Court of the Lions (Fig. 109)
there are no plants at all; but as there are great shell-fountains in all four squares there will have been plants too, either in pots or in separate beds set at intervals between the pavements. In Renaissance days the other courts were completely metamorphosed; but in spite of later changes the old state of things is preserved in the plantation of the little Patio de Daraxa (Linderaja, the Boudoir of the Sultana) (Fig. 110).