Category Archives: Patios & Courtyards

The Alhambra’s Parador in Granada: The Courtyards

Granada, in southern Spain,  is of course most famous for the Alhambra and Generalife gardens.  The patios of the Alhambra are iconic images of Granada and the best known gardens are those of the Generalife, the vacation palace on the other side of the Alhambra complex.

In the vast complex of palaces that is the Alhambra, this former monastery has been converted into one of the Paradors, Spain government-owned luxury hotels in historic landmarks.

A central courtyard is enclosed with arched columns and a covered gallery. It is a lovely example of the typical Andalusian patio (albeit a rather grand version of course) with the ever present water features in the form of a canal and a central fountain as a focal point. Note also the intricate pebble design of the patio flooring, found throughout southern Spain.

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To the side of the Parador are a series of terraced patios overlooking the Alhambra gardens. Note the pergola, patio flooring designs typical of Andalusia and the ornate fountain.

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Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla: Plaza de Espana

Maria Luisa, Infanta of Spain (1832-1897) was the younger sister of Isabella II, queen of Spain. She married Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, youngest son of the French King Louis Philippe, and became Duchess of Montpensier.

Most of the grounds that form Maria Luisa Park today where originally part of the Palace of San Telmo and donated by Maria Luisa to the city in 1893 to be used as public gardens. The palace , a magnificent example of Spanish baroque architecture was rehabilitated and converted in the 1990s into the seat of the autonomous government of Andalusia. It stands today just outside Maria Luisa Park.

French urban planner and landscape designer Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, who also created the Bagatelle Rose Garden and the Laribal Gardens in Barcelona, started work on the park in 1911. Also in preparation of the 1929 World’s Fair, architect Anibal Gonzales began work on the Plaza de Espana building and some of the pavilions.

Under Forestier, who had been heavily influenced by the gardens of Andalusia and Morocco, the Park became a Moorish inspired extravaganza of tiled fountains, ponds, arbors, pavillions and other structures, planted in a lush Mediterranean style with vines, bougainvilleas, roses, palms orange trees and flower beds.

I discovered Forestier’s work when in Barcelona, visiting the stunning terraced Laribal Gardens on the hill of Montjuic.  These gardens lead from fountains to gazebos to arbors to rose gardens to the top of the hill where you discover the sweeping views down the hill with water stairs inspired by the Alhambra leading back down. This element of surprise and wonder is one I have found in all of Forestier’s gardens, whether in Paris at Bagatelle, Morocco at the Jardins d’Essais or here.

This park being such an expansive and complex creation, I am featuring it through several posts.This one one showcases the Plaza de Espana. Although not strictly a garden of course, the Plaza de Espana is not only emblematic of the city of Seville, but also the focal point of the park around which much of the gardens are laid out.

It was designed for the World Fair of 1929 and is now used for central government offices. It is a masterpiece of Renaissance Revival architecture, designed by Aníbal González. It features a series of tiled alcoves representing the provinces of Spain.

 

Plaza de Espana is laid out in a half moon, with the building curving around a monumental plaza with canals and tiled bridges. The square is tiled in the peble style so often found around Andalusian patios and squares.

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Sevilla’s Alcazar: The Courtyard of the Maidens

The Alcazar of Sevilla is an outstanding example of Mudejar architecture and one of the most beautiful palaces of Andalusia. Originally built by the Almohades dynasty, it was expanded upon by later rulers through the Middle Ages until the Reconquista by the Catholica rulers, who subsequently added to the palace as well until the 19th century. The Alcazar remains to this day the official residence of the King of Spain in Sevilla.

The gardens were developed in the Moorish style as an integral part of the palace design, with extensive patios, fruit orchards, produce gardens and landscaped grounds, to produce food for the palace as well as aesthetic pleasure. As with all moorish gardens, water features are everywhere.

This post concentrates on the  Patio de las Doncellas. According to wikipedia :

“The name, meaning “The Courtyard of the Maidens”, refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia.

The lower level of the Patio was built for King Peter I and includes inscriptions describing Peter as a “sultan”. Various lavish reception rooms are located on the sides of the Patio. In the center is a large, rectangular reflecting pool with sunken gardens on either side. For many years, the courtyard was entirely paved in marble with a fountain in the center. However, historical evidence showed the gardens and the reflecting pool were the original design and this arrangement was restored. However, soon after this restoration, the courtyard was temporarily paved with marble once again at the request of movie director Ridley Scott. Scott used the paved courtyard as the set for the court of the King of Jerusalem in his movie Kingdom of Heaven. The courtyard arrangement was converted once more after the movie’s production.

The upper story of the Patio was an addition made by Charles V. The addition was designed by Luis de Vega in the style of the Italian Renaissance although he did include both Renaissance and mudéjar plaster work in the decorations. Construction of the addition began in 1540 and ended in 1572.”

More so probably than any other part of the Alcazar, the Courtyard of the Doncellas and surrounding rooms in the distinctly ornate Moorish style are reminiscent of the grandeur of the Alhambra in Granada and its patios.

Alcazar Palace and Gardens, Courtyard of the Maidens, Sevilla

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Alhambra’s Patio de Lindaraja: Courtyards in Granada, Spain

Granada, in southern Spain,  is of course most famous for the Alhambra and Generalife gardens.  The patios of the Alhambra are iconic images of Granada.  While not as famous as the Patio de los Leones, the Patio de Lindaraja is the most garden-like of the patios and a green oasis in this stunning palace. It is enclosed by arched columns and ornate galleries above, from which a sweeping view of the city below can be seen. From the garden below, the effect is almost monastic.

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Alhambra’s Iconic Patios & Courtyards in Granada, Spain

Granada, in southern Spain,  is of course most famous for the Alhambra and Generalife gardens.  The patios of the Alhambra are iconic images of Granada.  Best known are the Patio the los Mirtos and the Patio de los Leones.

According to Wikipedia, “The Court of the Myrtles (Patio de los Arrayanes) is part of the palace and fortress complexe of the Alhambra. It is located east of the “Guilded Room” (Cuarto Dorado) and west of the “Patio of the Lions” and the Baths. Its current name is due to the myrtle bushes that surround the central pond and the bright green colour of which contrasts with the white marble of the patio. It was also called the Patio of the Pondor or the Reservoir (Patio del Estanque o de la Alberca) because of the central pond, which is 34 metres long and 7,10 meters wide.[1] The patio is divided in two sides by the pond, which receives its water from two fountains. The espace has chambers and porticoes around it. These porticoes rest on columns with cubic capitals, which have seven semicircular arches decorated with fretwork rhombuses and inscriptions praising God. The central arch is greater than the other six and has solid scallops decorated with stylised vegetal forms and capitals of mocarabes.”

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Also in Wikepedia, “The Courtyard of the Lions is an oblong courtyard, 35 m in length and 20 m in width, surrounded by a low gallery supported on 124 white marble columns. A pavilion projects into the courtyard at each extremity, with filigree walls and light domed roof, elaborately ornamented. The square is paved with coloured tiles, and the colonnade with white marble; while the walls are covered 1.5 m up from the ground with blue and yellow tiles, with a border above and below enamelled blue and gold. The columns supporting the roof and gallery are irregularly placed, with a view to artistic effect; and the general form of the piers, arches and pillars is most graceful. They are adorned by varieties of foliage, etc.; above each arch there is a large square of arabesques; and over the pillars is another square of filigree work. In the center of the courtyard is the celebrated Fountain of Lions, a magnificent alabaster basin supported by the figures of twelve lions in white marble. ”

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Casa del Patio in Cordoba: Vertical & Container Gardening Ideas

Nothing distinguishes the Casa del Patio from any of the other houses tucked away in a quiet side street of this old Cordoba neighborhood.  It is only when stepping inside that one is transported to this unexpected green oasis. The building itself is only a series of meandering little cottages, quite modest on their own, but the residents, many of them artists and craftsmen have transformed them into a wild and lush haven of greenery.

Cordoba is famed for, and prides itself in, its patios and courtyards. It hold a Fiesta de los Patios once a year in May, during which prizes are awarded for the best patios, and many private buildings open their doors for visits once a year on that occasion. Case del Patio is one such venue, and never fails to garner top rankings in the Festival.

The residents rival in ingenuity to create the most creative visual displays in container gardening and vertical gardening, with mass groupings of containers hanging from every wall and filling every patio with bougainvilleas and other climber, perennials, flowering plants, cacti, succulents and even palms.

In this second post on the Casa del Patio, I am featuring more great vertical and container ideas.

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Cordoba Botanical Gardens: The Andalusian Patio

The Botanical Gardens in Cordoba, Spain opened in 1887 and were designed for primarily educational and scientific purposes. They are laid out along a wide central alley leading on one side to the Collections, species native to Spain arranged in borders edges by low growing rosemary or hackberry, and on the other side the Agricultural School with a large collection of citrus trees as well as an extensive vegetable garden. In the center are greenhouses dedicated to species from the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Andalusia, as well as a lovely area featured here, dedicated to the Andalusian patio.

The patio is emblematic of Cordoba, where the Festival of the Patios has been taking place every year in May since 1933. Its origins go back many centuries to the Moorish rule in Andalusia. In this are of the garden is nor a literal rendition of the Cordoban patio architecturally speaking, but rather a display of the many varieties of plants found in them, as many as 300 here, and many suitable to container gardening.

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Cordoba Botanical Gardens: the Scientific Garden

The Botanical Gardens in Cordoba, Spain opened in 1887 and were designed for primarily educational and scientific purposes. They are laid out along a wide central alley leading on one side to the Collections, featured in this post, species native to Spain arranged in borders edges by low growing rosemary or hackberry, and on the other side the Agricultural School with a large collection of citrus trees as well as an extensive vegetable garden. In the center are greenhouses dedicated to species from the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Andalusia, as well as a lovely area dedicated to the Andalusian patio.

he Collections are arranged scientifically along a central alley, by species and variety. All the plants included in the collections are autochtone to Spain.

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The Alcazaba Gardens: Alhambra’s Fortress in Granada, Spain

Granada, in southern Spain,  is of course most famous for the Alhambra and Generalife gardens.  The Alcazaba was built as a fortress and is the oldest part of the Alhambra. The gardens of the Alcazaba are small but offer sweeping views of the city, as well as fountains and other features typically found in Moorish style gardens.

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View from the Alcazaba
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The gate
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The ornate fountain outside the walls
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On the hill going up to the gate
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Building foundations remaining in the Alcazaba

DSC00428The garden proper is called Jardin de los Adarves. It is a long and narrow garden on the side of the Alcazaba overlooking the city.

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Pebble Designs & Patio Flooring Ideas from the Courtyards of Spain

Beautiful patios can be found throughout Andalusia, influenced bytthe Moors that ruled in Southern Spain until a final defeat in 1492. Cordoba embraced this heritage in its patio tradition perhaps more than any other Spanish city and has been celebrating with its famous Patio Festival in May since 1933.

Found throughout the south of Spain is the use of intricate pebble designs not only in the patios and courtyards, but also in many public areas and city squares. I am featuring here some of the many designs I came across in particular in Granada , Cordoba and Sevilla.

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