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The Prince's Garden in the Casa de Jafar

Text, photographs and plans by Meye Maier

For the full article see The Mediterranean Garden No 42, October 2005.

The garden of Medina Azahara, built in 936 by Abd al-Rahman III, Caliph of Al Andalus, and situated in the foothills of the Cordoba mountain range, is the oldest Islamic garden in Spain.

Within this immense enclosure, there is a small garden called The Prince's Garden. It measures 20 by 19 metres, with pavilions to the East and West, a wall to the South, and to the North stairs that lead to an upper level. Its elements have been perfectly preserved: a fountain that filled a pool, and channels irrigating the flowerbeds. It is longer than it is wide and offers, from the covered areas, a view of the parterres which are sunken in relation to the paving to allow for better irrigation.

The water was piped in directly from the main line of the aqueduct which crossed the enclosure at a slant, filling the reservoir and gushing forth through the still existing outlets in the marble.
Based on Ibn Luyun's Treatise on Agriculture, written in 1348, in which he recommends plants to cultivate for decoration, to delight the senses of sight and smell, we may imagine the roses, white and yellow jasmine, yellow narcissi, musk roses, wallflowers, violets, oleanders, anemones and lilies in a profusion of hues that must have formed a carpet of colours to be seen from the floor above or simply to be enjoyed as one walked along the paths...

Indeed, this small garden suggests a basic design for creating a place in the Mediterranean climate that is intimate and delightful.
Summarised by the editor, Caroline Harbouri.

View south-east across the plain.

View south-west across the plain.

Ground plan of the Prince's Garden. Green denotes sunken beds,
yellow the paths and blue the cistern and canals.

West Pavillion viewed from the east.

Ground plan of the Prince's Garden
showing the pattern of the stone paving.

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