GARDENS OF SPAIN

The Creation began in the Garden of Eden.

Long ago, the Sumerians associated gardens with the stars, and the Greeks defined a garden as a kind of paradise. The earliest known gardens are the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Egyptian Gardens.

In Spain, the history of gardens goes back to Rome. The Roman garden was an enclosed site termed a peristyle, lined with columns and adorned with fountains, plants, sculptures, mosaics, and painted frescoes, where water flowed and man-dominated nature flourished.

In Muslim Spain the most beautiful gardens were created, surviving until this day: Granada’s Alhambra and Generalife.

The Nasrid monarchs harnessed the Darro River so that water would always be present in their gardens, as in the paradise described in the Koran.

The gardens of the Real Alcázar (Royal Palace) in Seville, created by Mudejar artists somewhat prior to Granada’s Courtyard of the Lions, are also imbued with this aesthetic.

Later, Philip II, influenced by Flemish gardens, created those of Aranjuez, full of lush tunnels and rose hedges.

His grandson, Philip IV, devised the gardens of the Buen Retiro in Madrid, which influenced King Louis XIV’s designs for his at Versailles.

With the arrival of Philip V and the influence of the Baroque style, a new garden concept emerged, now conceived of as a natural space dominated by man and reflecting the power of the monarch. In the gardens of La Granja one can observe this orderly, demarcated approach to nature.

At the end of the 18th century the English garden appeared, part of a search for a lost paradise, in contrast to French aesthetics.

An example is the Jardin del Capricho in Madrid, where a magical world full of canals, lakes, chapels, and dance halls was created for the nobles to play at being country folk.

At the end of the 19th century gardens were once again in vogue, with exhibitions of plants held at venues like the Glass Palace in Retiro Park. 

In the big cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona, palaces with their own gardens were created, and for the first time large country estates featuring spacious gardens were built, 

like Moratalla in Cordoba. 

Each region of Spain has had its own characteristic gardens:

pazos in Galicia, 

cigarrales in Toledo, 

quintas in Madrid, 

carmenes in Granada 

and masías in Catalonia.

The last great historical gardens to be built in Spain were the Parque Güell, created by Gaudí, in Barcelona, 

El Palmeral de Elche, in Alicante 

and the Parque María Luisa, in Seville.

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