Tag Archives: spain

The Alcazar Gardens in Cordoba, Spain

The Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos (Alcazar of the Christian Kings) blends the formality of royal palace gardens with the strong Moorish influence often found throughout Andalusian Spain’s gardens.

The gardens are laid out as terraces, with the top one collecting water from the mountains and irrigated the lower terraces. This top terrace features two large pools, and steps lead to the lower terrace which features three large ponds. A middle terrace is located at the southern end.

The gardens are planted with tall cypress edges, while boxwood in a grid pattern edges rose gardens. The water features are the focal point of these gardens, and the entire perspective follows the large pools framed in by the plantings.

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More Patios and Courtyards of Cordoba, 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. Here are a few of the many patios to be found throughout Cordoba’s old town, showcasing the use of fountains and water features, pebble patio designs typical of the region, and of course great container gardening ideas..

A craftsman’s workshop

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Private residences:

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A convent courtyard:

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Cordoba bus station:

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Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla: the Garden of the Lions

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 Garden of the Lions (11) and the Fountain of the Alvarez Quintero Brothers (14) just behind it. Both are stunning in very different ways. The Fountain of the Lions features large fountains surrounded with sculptures and geometrical borders with a clear Moorish influence. The Quintero fountain is a masterpiece of tile work that ties in with the incredibly detailed allover moasaics of the Plaza de Espana at the other end of the park.




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A Stunning Andalusian Patio at Sevilla’s Alfonso XIII

Hotel Alfonso XIII, or the Alfonso as it is often referred to, is a historic landmark building in old Seville, near the Cathedral and the Alcazar. Inaugurated in 1929, the year of the World Fair that was instrumental in bringing to Seville the Plaza de Espana and Maria Luisa Park, it is a materpiece of neo-mudejar, or neo-moorish style, architecture, with arches, tile murals and water features.  The patio is truly the heart of the hotel, with reception rooms, lounges, and the restaurant all laid out around it, and it is indeed a treat to spend a leisurely hour there having drinks or coffee there. The grounds outside are also landcaped in a distinctly Andalusian style.


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And of course, the stunning reception rooms around the courtyard.


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Montjuic’s Greek Theater Gardens in Barcelona, Spain

The Greek Theater Garden started out as a rose garden, the second in Barcelona, and was created in 1929, like many of the gardens in the Montjuic area, for the International Exhibition.

You may think the greek theater itself is older, but it is a replica, also built in 1929. The Epiduro Theater in Athens, Greece, was used as the inspiration, which may be why it looks so authentic. The theater is used for cultural events, first and foremost the Greek Festival, during which many plays and performances take place there.

This lovely garden is adjacent to the Laribal Gardens, and starts with a larger terrace at top with a formal layout of rose borders and trees overlooking the greek theater, then a long pergola allows for sitting and enjoying the view over the rest of the mountain.  Click here for an excellent article on these gardens.


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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.


More 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.