Deconstructing the Traditional Islamic Garden, its Engineering, and its Relation to Persian History

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Deconstructing the Traditional Islamic Garden, its Engineering, and its Relation to Persian History
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“The Islamic Quran makes mention of gardens many times, describing fragrant flowers and fruit, but above all, water.

Southern Spain was Islamic for almost as long as the country has been Christian. The al-Hambra (pronounced “al-hum-brah”) in Andalusia, Spain, (pronounced “ahn-dah-loose-ee-ah”) which means “red fort” in Arabic, is a series of connected palaces and gardens, pieces which have been added over the passage of centuries.

Sitting across a small valley, and above the main complex of buildings is the Summer Palace is the Generalife (pronounced “hen-err-ah lee-fay”) which dates back to the 13th century.

The al-Hambra was conquered by the Christians in the 15th century, driving out the Moors and ushering in Christian rule under Castilian monarchy.

The importance of water is displayed in the adjoining palace in the Courtyard of the Lions, the heart of the sultan’s private dwellings under Islamic control. This palace is filled with references of the desert (e.g. 124 stone columns situated around the outside of the open courtyard which are designed to be reminiscent of palm trees etc.). The 4 quadrants of the central water feature in the Courtyard of the Lions, separated by stone lined water channels, each symbolize the rivers of paradise, including a river of milk, honey, wine, and water as laid out in the Quran. The Courtyard of the Lions is now floored with white marble but originally, the area was filled to the brim with plant life.

Oranges, among a mass of other fruits, were imported into Spain by the Arabs and it is believed that there are over 40,000 orange trees in Seville, Spain because of this. The Real Alcazar (pronounced “ray-al all-kah-zarr”) is the oldest royal palace still in use, in Europe. Originally built by the Moors in the 10th century, and rebuilt during the 1360’s by King Peter of Castile, also referred to as “Pedro the Cruel” or “Pedro the Just”, a title earned by acting despotic and unpredictable.”

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