Tag Archives: landscape architecture

The Alhambra’s Gardens in Granada: The UpperTerraces

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.

The gardens of the Alhambra proper however,  while often overlooked, deserve a visit. They are laid out as a series of terraces starting at the lower terrace with a pavilion and large reflecting pond, and then arbored stairs leading to a series of terraces landscaped in a very Mediterranean style and reminiscent of some of the gardens found in Provence or Italy. I am featuring in this post the upper terraces.

Although some of the terraces feature borders formally edged in boxwood, the upper terraces have the feel of a much more intimate garden: paths and stone steps meander from terrace to terrace and along small ponds, designed for a casual promenade rather than for grand effect.

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Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla: Fountain of the Frogs and Island of the Birds

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 showcases the Fountain of the Frogs (34 on map) and the Island of the Birds (6, Island of the Ducks on the map).   The whimsical Fountain of the Frog has colorful Andalusian ceramic frogs surroundinga fountain, followed by a pond that leads the Garden of the Lions to the Isleta de los Patos, or Birds Island.  The island provides a sanctuary for the many birds inhabiting the park; its focal point is the Pavilion of King Alfonso XII, which dates back to the time it was part of the San Telmo Palace.

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Sevilla’s Jardines de Guadalquivir: A Modern Take on Moorish Gardens

Sevilla is a truly beautiful city, and one of my favorites in Spain. It is full of historic neigborhoods, stunning architecture and monuments, but its many plazas, squares, parks, green spaces, narrow streets, and pedestrian areas make it also  very charming and people friendly.  I was visiting Sevilla off season, but the warmer Mediterranean climate still had roses and bougainvilleas blooming in December. I first visited the Maria Luisa Park, designed by one of my favorite landscape architects Jean Claude Nicholas Forrestier, then the famous Alcazar Palace and its famous gardens.

Maybe I should have visited the Jardines de Guadalquivir and the Jardin Americano (the Botanical Garden next to it) first, because I must say they were a huge let down after seeing such world class gardens.

On the river that goes through Sevilla is an island, named Isla de La Catuja after the cloistered monastery (Cartuja) that is now the Contemporary Arts Center. The island was isolated and undeveloped until the 1992 World Expo, at which time  the monastwery was converted, bridges were added, A huge research and development complex was built, as well as university schools, a stadium, an auditorium, an amusement park, theaters and concert venues, and of course, the gardens.

Jardines de Guadalquivir seemed disappointing at first also because they seemed poorly maintained and most water features weren’t running. In all fairness, it was almost winter, and while the city maintains extremely well its most visited sights, this out of the way garden must be a prime candidate for budget cuts. It may get a big spring cleaning and look lovely in the summer, but felt completely abandoned when I was there. It was almost eerie actually visiting this garden full of the forgotten monuments of the big Expo (towers and stages are still there).

Yet, after walking around the park for a bit (and I had it just about to myself as I saw two other people the entire time),  I must say I don’t regret going to see it as it must have been quite beautiful in its hay day, and you can still see the “bones” of this garden. It is actually quite an interesting design in that it takes all the traditional features of the moorish influenced gardens of Andalusia, to create a very modern and updated version of it. As I walked through, I noticed the alleys dotted with fountains, the terraced canals, the maze, the sunken garden structures, but built using definitely modern materials and lines. If you ever visit his garden, don’t miss the lovely water garden near one of the gates.

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Sevilla’s Alcazar: Ladies Garden and Hydraulic Organ in the Mannierist Gardens

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.

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The formal, or mannierist gardens, are laid out at directly along the palace and bordered by the fantastic grotto gallery. They are made up of several smaller gardens and architectural elements. In this post I will concentrate mostly on the Ladies Garden, with the Fountain of Neptune, the Hydraulic Organ and the Lion Pavilion.

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Alcazar Gardens, Sevilla

Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla: the Glorieta de las Conchas and Arbors

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 first one showcases the northern section of the park. The Glorieta de las Conchas (8) features statues and planted borders arranged around a central fountain. Glorieta de Dona Sol (9) has a beautiful mosaic surrounded by hedges, and Glorieta de Ofelia Nieto (10_ is a meandering arbor covered in trumpet vines and bougainvilleas. At the end of the avenue is the Museum of Archeology (30), also built for the 1929 Exhibition.

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Leading towards the Fountain of the Lions is Gurugu Mountain (15 on the map), a small mad made “mount” with an observation point and gazebo up top. This is a perfect example of Forestier’s playfulness in garden design, interjecting surprises at every turn throughout his gardens.

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Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla: Water-lily Pool (Estanque de los Lotos)


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 last post features the Water-lily Pool (Estanque de los Lotos).

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On the way from de Island of the Birds to the Lily Pool is the Glorieta de Juana Reina, named after a famous Spanish actress born in Sevilla in 1929.

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Then at the western end of the Park, one reaches the Water-lily Pool (Estanque de los Lotos), a stunning pond bordered by arbors.

 

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To the side is another pond and statuary.

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Towards the exit gate are centennial trees.

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An alley with a series of fountains in the Moorish style to the southern gate.

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Cadiz’ Historic Parque Genoves: The Botanical Garden

The old city of Cadiz is a peninsula bordered on three sides by the ocean and on the land side by walls, with the modern Cadiz having expanded passed those fortifications. This charming walled city is a compact maze of narrow streets, mostly pedestrian, but dotted with squares, and plazas, and of course the beach and promenade give it a pleasant open feel as well. The main green area in Cadiz is Parque Genoves.

This historic park situated at the very end of the peninsula on the waterfront dates back to the end of the 18th century. It was enlarged in the 19th century and manymore trees were planted, at which time in became known as “Paseo de las Delicias”, garden of the delights. Then in the late 19th century, it bacame a botanical garden under the direction of Eduardo Genovés y Puig, a garden designer from Valencia.

There are really two main areas to the garden. One side feels more like w whimsical park, with a man made lake, a waterfall, a mountain with cave, dinosaurs in the water, duck houses and a beautiful kiosk. The other half has a formal promenade with topiaries and the botanical garden area with an extensive collection of trees and succulents. In this post I am showcasing botanical garden section of the park.

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