I spent my 20’s working to travel, and travel I did, as much as my pocketbook would allow. I loved experiencing different cultures through food, festivals, architecture, and history but I was especially enthralled with the flora and fauna of each country I visited.
I didn’t purposefully seek out the famous gardens of a region. Rather out of necessity (I was backpacking) I often found myself plopping down to rest my aching feet in someone’s garden, they being kind enough to offer refreshment and ease.
That is not to say that I didn’t see some spectacular renowned gardens. One of the most memorable are the gardens at the Alhambra, Grenada, Spain.
The Alhambra gardens have been said to rival the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Of course, the Hanging Gardens location has never been found, nor is anyone alive to verify this claim so”¦
The gardens of the Alhambra are extensive and not located in any one area. The most touted is Generalife, but all the gardens are magical.
Islamic Garden Design
The gardens at the Alhambra have gone through several incarnations, but they still focus on Islamic garden design, incorporating tranquility and contemplation. To this end, there are various water features, shaded niches, and aromatic plants whose uses through history have also been medicinal.
Evergreen trees give not only scale but act as walls or arches throughout the gardens while box hedges delineate areas between gardens or features. Cypress trees which can live up to 600 years grace the grounds as do oleander.
Walls are covered in wisteria, ivy, jasmine, roses, and trumpet vine. Orange trees can be found as well as areas of vegetable gardens. Vegetable gardens have been at the site since the middle ages to supply food for the court, military, and palace denizens. Today crops such as artichoke, broad beans, garlic, kale, and onions to name a few, grow along with almond, cherry, loquat, pomegranate, quince, and walnut trees.
Only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still exists, the Pyramids of Giza, and some doubt has been shed as to the existence of some of the others. If you ever get a chance to visit the spectacular Alhambra and its gardens, take it! It might be your only chance to see such a marvel comparable to one of the Seven Wonders of the World.