INTRODUCTION TO THE CATALOGUE OF
and Luis Ramón-Laca**
Almeria [Al-Mariya] 2
According to al-Udri’s account, the taifa king al-Mu’tasim built a
palace in the Alcazaba (see
table) to which he brought water through a canal and a well (Seco
de Lucena 1967). It had a great receptions hall to the north and to
the south a wide orchard in which were cultivated fruits of an
outstanding quality and that occupied a length similar to the wide of
the Alcazaba. In the 12th century the palace and the garden were
reorganized by the Almohades, when a mirador room has been added
inside a tower to the north, and again in Nasride times (14th-15th
century) (Arnold 2005). Al-Mu’tasim had other properties with gardens
outside the city that have not been located until now.
Hyeronimus Münzer, who travelled across Spain between 1494 and 1495,
recorded ‘a beautiful valley’ between the towns of Tabernas and
Almeria, ‘with riverbanks home to fields and orchards containing palms
and olive, fig and almond trees’. He also recorded an aqueduct that
brought water to Almeria from a spring about a mile away. As he
approached the city he was witness to ‘the most beautiful orchards
with walls, baths, towers and acequias built in the Moorish style’ (Münzer
According to Münzer, the Great Mosque Garden was a vast square garden
with lemon and other trees, paved with marble and with a fountain in
the middle (Münzer 1951: 29).
The monasteries founded by Ferdinand V of Aragon and Isabella I of
Castile probably all had orchards. The Monastery of Santo Domingo had
baths and an orchard with an area of 12 tahúllas (13.4 ha), the
Convent of La Trinidad was located in La Huerta del Rey [the King’s
Orchard], and that of Santa Clara occupied a number of existing
orchards and houses (Gil Albarracín 2005; Segura Graíño 1982: 78). In
the Monastery of Santo Domingo, Münzer recorded ‘beautiful and vast
orchards with many palm trees, once possessions of the richest Muslim
families’. He also saw the orchards of the Monastery of San Francisco
(Münzer 1951: 29). Part of the Santo Domingo orchards were buried by
the new wall erected in 1575. The remainder disappeared under new
neighbourhoods (García Guzmán 1982).
Cordoba [Qurtuba] 3
The Old Alcasar [Sp. El Alcázar Viejo] was built by the Ummayads, who
ruled Al-Andalus from 756 to 1031, and destroyed by the Berbers in
1013 during the sacking of Cordoba. It occupied the area between the
Mosque, the river Guadalquivir, the Moor’s Stream [El Arroyo del Moro]
and the Jewish quarter. According to Al-Maqqari (16th-17th c.), there
were actually several alcasars inside the Old Alcasar: Al-Qasr al-Hayr
[the Enclosing Alcasar], Al-Qasr al-Kamil [the Perfect Alcasar], Al-Qasr
al-Mudjaddad [the Renewed Alcasar], Al-Qasr al-Rawda [the Garden
Alcasar], Al-Qasr al-Zuhur [the Alcasar of the Flowers], Al-Qasr al-Ma‘shiq
[the Lovers’ Alcasar], Al-Qasr al-Mubarak [the Blessed Alcasar], Al-Qasr
al-Rustak [the Alcasar of Rustak], Al-Qasr al-Surur [the Joy Alcasar],
Al-Qasr al-Tadj [the Crown Alcasar], and Al-Qasr al-Badi‘ [the New
Alcasar]. Al-Maqqari informs us that water was channelled from the
mountains and spilled into pools of different shapes (made of gold,
silver and silvered copper), lakes, ponds and fountains (made of Roman
marble). He also mentions a beautiful water spout that shot water to a
considerable height (al-Maqqari 1840: 207-212). In the time of
Isabella the garden had pathways and a pavilion called El Çenadero de
la Reyna [the Queen’s Evening Dining Room], as well as orange trees,
vines, a water wheel and a pool used for irrigation. The gardeners
were still Moors at the end of the 15th century (Domínguez Casas 1993:
99). Large groves and several towers and buildings can still be seen,
although partly in ruins, in the superb drawing by Anton van den
Wyngaerde dated 1567 (Kagan 1986: 257-260).
The New Alcasar [Sp. El Alcázar Nuevo] (see
table) was built on the Old Alcasar plot during the reign of
Alphonse XI of Castile (1312-1350) (Dubourg-Noves 1971). The Morisco
Patio [Sp. El Patio Morisco] (see table), a cross-shaped garden with
marble pools and flowerbeds framed by acequias lined with blue and
green glazed tiles, was unearthed during excavations undertaken in the
1950s (Torres Balbás 1958: 183-186).
The olive trees, orange trees and palms may have been introduced to
the Great Mosque Patio (see
table) by Christians in the 13th century – hence the name still
used today: El Patio de los Naranjos [the Orange Trees Patio]. Torres
Balbás (1952: 22) indicated that mosque patios with trees were only
found in Al-Andalus, since mosques in other countries were never home
to vegetation. The mosque patios seen by Münzer in Almeria and Granada
a few years after the Christian conquest were all home to planted
Al-Munyat al-Rusafa [Sp. Arruzafa] was built in 756 by the Emir ‘Abd
al-Rahman I of Al-Andalus (born in Syria in 731, died in Cordoba in
788) and burnt in 1010 by the Berbers. Its only remaining trace is its
toponym in the Parador Nacional de la Arruzafa. This clearly makes
reference to an ancient Byzantine site in northern Syria, Sergiopolis,
that lay 40 km south of the river Euphrates. This was known to Muslims
as al-Rusafa, and was where ‘Abd al-Rahman I lived with his
grandfather the Caliph Hisham b. ‘Abd al-Malik (Damascus, 691-Al-Rusafa,
743). The Muslim chronicles say that ‘Abd al-Rahman I had a beautiful
palace there with a large garden for which he imported exotic plants
and beautiful trees from very many regions’ (García Gómez 1947: 274,
280-281; Torres Balbás 1950: 449-454; Samsó 1981-1982: 136-7).
Al-Munyat al-Na‘ura [the Water Wheel Orchard] was located southwest of
Cordoba, probably on the first meander of the Guadalquivir in a place
known as El Cortijo del Alcaide. According to Al-Maqqari, its orchards
were watered by a pipe which ended in a pool, over which there was a
lion covered in pure gold. The water entered through its hindquarters
and poured out through its mouth (al-Maqqari 1840: 241). A team led by
Félix Hernández excavated the area in 1957 and found a courtyard with
soil made of white marble, water pipes, a sewerage system and the
remains of rooms. The excavations plan were unfortunately lost (Castejón
El Cortijo Alamiriya is located 9 km west of Cordoba at the foot of
the mountains. The palace has been identified with Al-Munyat al-Rummaniyya
based on a Caliphal text recording that the slave Durri offered it as
a gift to Al-Hakam II (Arjona Castro 1982: 162). The pool, a
remarkable piece of Ummayad ashlar work with a capacity of 4000 m3,
was filled with water taken from the Guadarromán stream. Ricardo
Velázquez Bosco found the remains of a summer house, now disappeared,
that stood at the top of three terraces sloping downwards towards the
Guadalquivir (Velázquez Bosco 1912: 20-24). The upper terrace now has
orange trees while the two lower ones are used for grazing bulls.
The construction of Al-Madinat al-Zahra’ [Zahra’ Town, Sp. Medina
in 936 in the place called Al-Djabal al-‘Arus [the Bride’s Hill] on
the south slope of the Sierra, continued over the times of the Caliphs
of Al-Andalus ‘Abd al-Rahman III (†961) and his son Al-Hakam II
(†976). It was burnt in 1010 by the Berbers. The town was organised in
three terraces descending towards the river Guadalquivir and occupied
a surface of 115 ha, of which only 5% has been excavated. Although in
ruins, the terraces were still visible in the 12th century since al-Idrisi
(1901: 212) referred to gardens and orchards in the middle terrace. He
was probably talking about the Upper Garden, which was the ceremonial
garden where ambassadors were received, and the Lower Garden, most
likely the Caliph’s private garden. According to al-Maqqari (1840:
238), the Upper Garden pools, which may have held up 1000 m3 of water,
were used to raise fish.
Little is known about the other palaces mentioned in the Muslim
chronicles, such as Al-Munyat al-Nasr [Nasr’s estate], Al-Munyat ‘Abd
Allah, Al-Munyat ‘Adjab, Al-Munyat al-Mugira, Al-Munyat al-Mushafiyya,
Al-Munyat Zubayr, a palace called Dimashq [Damascus], and Al-Qasr
al-Farisi [the Persian Alcasar] (Lévi-Provençal 1932: 225).
Archaeological remains have been found at Quintos, including El
Cortijo de Rabanales, El Cortijo el Castillo and El Cortijo
Turruñuelos, where aerial pictures show a buried, cross-shaped
structure with dimensions of 500 m by 375 m. Over a period of just two
years (starting in 978), Al-Madinat al-Zahira [the Flourishing Town]
was built to emulate Al-Madinat al-Zahra’ by the Vizier Al-Mansur Ibn
Abi ‘Amir (†1002). However, it was burnt in 1009. Its location is
unclear, although according to Ibn Hazm (1971: 200), the route that
started at the Arroyo Pequeño to the east of Cordoba, ended in the
alley that led to the town. It has been suggested that El Cortijo del
Arenal in El Pago de Tejavana is the main centre of the town (Torres
Granada (Garnata) 4
The ruins of Al-Dar al-‘Arusa [the Bride’s House, Sp. Daralharoza] are
found at El Cerro del Sol [the Sun Hill], which looks over the
Alhambra. Due to the lack of springs in the area, it depended on water
brought from the river Darro by a complicated delivery system. An
acequia went straight into the Cerro del Sol and two inter-linked
water wheels raised the water it provided some 60 m to a great pool (albercón)
35 m long by 7 m wide by 2 m deep (nearly 500 m3). Water reached the
Daralharoza Palace with pressure through a siphon system crossing a
small valley. The palace was probably abandoned in the 15th century
since the Ambassador of Venice, Andrea Navagero, saw it in ruins in
about 1525 (Torres Balbás 1948). The area was excavated between 1933
and 1936 by Leopoldo Torres Balbás, who found the remains of a palace
organised around a patio with a pond in the middle. In the baths there
was a fountain (today kept at the Alhambra Museum) of white marble
decorated with glazed tiles.
Al-Dishar [Sp. Los Alijares] was located in the plot where the modern
cemetery of the town was built. Navagero (1983: 49), who saw the
palace in ruins with some myrtle hedges and ponds, recorded the beauty
of its views towards la vega. Based on a 16th century source, García
Gómez (1934) showed the word alijar to derive from the Arabic al-dishar.
In the cemetery, the pond that belonged to the palace can still be
The well known Al-Djannat al-‘Arif [Sp. El Generalife] (see
table) was built in the time of the King of Granada Muhammad II
(1273-1302), and later enlarged by Kings Muhammad III (1302-1309) and
Isma‘il I (1313-1325). Its construction was therefore begun before
that of the Alhambra. The original access route, contemplated for
approach by horse and today unfortunately closed, is a narrow and
sloping alley that begins in front of La Torre de los Picos [the Tower
of the Peaks]. The French writer Théophile Gautier saw this entrance
in use in the 19th century (Gautier 1920: 81-82). The end of the horse-accessible
route was marked by El Patio del Apeadero [the Dismounting Yard],
where the podiums used to help riders step down and the drinking
trough for the animals are still present. In El Patio de la Guardia [the
Guard Courtyard], a narrow staircase led to the Patio de la Acequia [the
Acequia Courtyard], which followed the same layout seen in other
patios of the Alhambra, although more elongated. According to Navagero
(1983: 47-48), the acequia was surrounded by myrtles and orange trees
and had a gallery with more myrtles below. These were six or eight
paces wide and reached up to the balconies. He saw rabbits below the
branches of these trees. According to Navagero, there was another
courtyard ‘surrounded by hedges with a large and beautiful fountain
that threw water more than ten fathoms into the air’. Casares Porcel,
Tito Rojo and Socorro Abreu (2003) recently performed a palynological
study of the patio. Crossing El Patio del Ciprés de la Sultana [the
Sultaness’ Cypress Patio], which was transformed in the Baroque era,
there still stands La Escalera del Agua [the Water Stairs], which
Navagero saw in use. Its Spanish name was documented in 1572, when
some reparations were made to them [las fuentes que dizen la escalera
del agua] (Vílchez 1991). The Generalife is more a country house than
a palace; its orchards (La Colorada, La Grande, La Fuentepeña or La
Mercería) are, in fact, still cultivated (Bermúdez Pareja 1968: 14).
The famous Al-Madinat al-Hamra’ [the Red Town, Sp. La Alhambra] was
built in the left side of the river Darro on a strategic spur of a
hill known as Sabika overlooking Granada. The lack of water on the
plot was solved with the construction of La Acequia Real [the Royal
Acequia] in the middle of the thirteenth century. As noted by Torres
Balbás, continuous irrigation over the centuries allowed this dry and
sterile hill to be transformed into the superb Alhambra groves and
Generalife orchards. The Alhambra began to be used as the courtyard
seat from the second quarter of the 13th century, although its palaces
were mainly renovated during the 14th century. In Muslim times there
were several palaces (cuartos): the Comares Palace built at the
initiative of Yusuf I (1333-1354), the Lions Palace built by Muhammad
V (1354-1359 and 1362-1391), El Partal (see
table) built by Muhammad III (1302-1309), and a palace (see
table) today in ruins built by Yusuf III (1408-1417). All these
palaces were independent of one another (indeed, the passage used
today between the Comares and Lions Palaces did not exist in the
Middle Ages), but all followed a similar layout based on a rectangular
patio with arcades along the smaller sides (Orihuela Uzal 1996: 228).
In an account dated 1362, the Vizier Ibn al-Jatib (1313-1374) tells us
that the entrance to the mašwar was through a courtyard (today known
as the Machuca Courtyard), which had a roofed gallery and a pavilion
that extended beyond it as if suspend over the town. From there, one
could hear the murmur of the water of the Alhambra’s pools and even
the sound of people coughing in the town. In the middle of the patio
the strangely shape pond described by the Vizier can still be seen. It
was originally flanked by two fonts one fathom in diameter, and by two
lions of gilded copper that spilled water through their mouths (García
Gómez 1988. López López and Orihuela Uzal 1990).
The Comares Palace was organised around a patio traditionally known as
El Patio de los Arrayanes [the Myrtles Patio] or El Patio de la
Alberca [the Pond Patio] (see
table). Navagero (1983: 46) records it as having slabs of very
white, fine marble, some of them huge. He also recorded a pond and
beside it two ‘beautiful hedges of myrtle and some orange trees’.
The name of the Lions Palace (see
table) derives from the twelve lions which support the Nassrid
fountain in the middle of the patio. There is evidence that it once
had vegetation, e.g., in 1502 Antoine de Lalaing recorded six orange
trees growing in the corners (Gachard 1876: 206), although this has
been a point of some controversy (Nuere 1986). From a windowed balcony
known as the ‘Ayn Dar ‘A’iša [the Eye of ‘A’iša’s House, Sp. El
Mirador de Lindaraja) one could contemplate the gardens below. An
inscription in the plaster identifies the window as a ‘joyful eye, the
pupil of Muhammad which opened to the garden’ (Lafuente y Alcántara
1859: 140). The existence of gardens in this area is confirmed since
gardeners were brought from Valencia after 1492 to repair the Alhambra
orchards, especially those below La Torre de Comares [the Comares
Tower] and those next to the baths (Domínguez Casas 1993: 454).
According to Herrera (1970 : 135), the myrtles of the Alhambra
and Generalife were pruned into the shape of chairs and other elegant
forms. In 1494 there was a purchase of 140 orange trees from Palma del
Río to plant in the orchards of the Alhambra (Domínguez Casas 1993:
100, note 493). In 1565 the Flemish botanist Charles de l’Écluse
recorded the same cultivar of myrtle (a Betic wide-leaved myrtle,
Myrtus bætica latifolia domestica) in other Moorish gardens of
Granada, always around the pools (L’Écluse 1601: 65. Ramón-Laca
Menéndez de Luarca 1999).
The palace built in the Alhambra by Yusuf III was transformed after
the conquest of Granada into the residence of the Count of Tendilla,
the first governor (alcaide) of the Alhambra, and then again in the
20th century by Torres Balbás (Ramón-Laca Menéndez de Luarca 2004).
According to Münzer (1951: 37, in Brothers 1994), the Count of
Tendilla lived in the Moorish style, for he bade Münzer be seated on
silk carpets, offering him preserves and other delicacies before
showing him the gardens with their lemon trees, myrtles, ponds and
In the Alhambra, there were also gardens, which were still visible in
18th century architectural plans, in the Abencerrajes Palace (see
table) and in the Convent of San Francisco (see
table) founded by Ferdinand and Isabella on a Nassrid palace which
included a patio similar to that of the Generalife (Orihuela Uzal
1996). There was also a garden in the mausoleum of the Nassrid Kings (rawda)
Navagero (1983: 49) recorded some myrtles and orange trees in the
garden of El Cuarto Real de Santo Domingo (see
table), which belonged in Muslim times to the Kings of Granada.
The excavation undertaken in the 1990s unearthed a garden formed by a
fountain, an octagonal pool and two symmetrical flowerbeds (Almagro
and Orihuela 1995. Orihuela Uzal 1996).
Al-Qasr al-Sayyid [Sp. El Alcázar Genil] (see
table) was built by the sayyid Ishaq b. Yusuf in 1218 and later
transformed in Nassrid times (Calero Secall and Martínez Enamorado
1995: 162). Navagero (1983: 49) saw its garden (known as the Queen’s
Orchard) in use. It had a large pond 121 m long and 28 m wide. In
1978, the first author of this work took pictures of the palace; the
myrtles could still be seen at that time. Unfortunately they have now
Navagero (1983: 409) entered Granada through the neighbourhood known
as El Albaicín, where he saw ‘a most beautiful mosque with a
delightful garden with lemon trees’. He makes reference to the former
Albaicín Mosque, whose patio has been preserved in the Saviour
Collegiate Church [La Colegiata del Salvador] (see
table). He records that in the courtyard of another mosque there
was an olive tree bigger than a holm-oak.
According to Ibn al-Jatib (Simonet 1872: 47, 53), in the 14th century
the orchards (sing. djanna, pl. djannat) in the environs of the
Alhambra numbered one hundred. There were also other vineyards (sing.
karm, pl. kurum) and gardens (sing. bustan, pl. basatin). Several
orchards belonging to the Moorish queens, such as the Ginajop, Ginin
Cidi Mocliz, Genin Cidi Hamet, Genin Cidi Ali, Alcázar Xenil, Genin
Alcadi, and Genin Alfacaz or Alfaraz orchards are mentioned in the
capitulatory document of 1493 (Caro Baroja 1985: 100). The gardens
received water from La Acequia Real in the case of the Alhambra and La
Fuente de Alfacar in the rest of the town (Orihuela Uzal and Vílchez
Vílchez 1991). According to Medina (1549: f. 142r), in the 16th
century there were some 800 orchards. According to Bermúdez de Pedraza
(1608: 22v-23r), most of the houses of Granada had orchards and
gardens with orange trees, lemon trees, citrons, laurels, myrtles,
fruit trees, herbs and flowers; indeed, the city was home to at least
four thousand flower and fruit gardens. All houses had a water supply
– the most important had three or more fountains – and all had at
least a piece of an orchard, an orange tree or a vine around the patio
and fountain. Others had gardens on their flat roofs, which were
covered by vines and embellished with flowerpots, orange trees, roses
and cypresses, as well as all sorts of herbs and carnations. After the
conquest of Granada, and especially after the expulsion of the
Moriscos, some noblemen managed to acquire very large plots where they
built (or in many cases probably rebuilt) houses surrounded by
orchards and gardens (Tito Rojo 1998. Tito Rojo 2000. Barrios Rozúa
2003). Large masses of trees, towers and enclosures are seen in the
several drawings of the town by Anton den Wyngaerde (Kagan 1986:
269-275). This type of semirural-urban property received the name of
carmen, from the Arabic karm, i.e. vineyard. Carmenes continued to be
built between the 16th and 19th centuries, giving the exotic image the
Albaicín enjoys today.
Malaga [Malaqa] 5
Al-Qasr al-Sayyid was founded in 1226 by the Caliph of Al-Andalus Al-Ma’mun
Abu l-‘Ala’ Idris b. Ya‘qub al-Mansur. It had an orchard, referred to
in the Muslim chronicles either as the djanna, munya, or riyad. In the
15th century it was known as La Huerta del Rey [the King’s Orchard] (Calero
Secall and Martínez Enamorado 1995). This orchard was perhaps that
seen in 1403 from the sea by the Ambassador of the King of Castile,
Ruy González de Clavijo, next to unas taraçanas [some shipyards] (González
de Clavijo, 1943: 6). The Ambassador recorded ‘many beautiful orchards
inside a wall, as well as towers’. No remains exist today, but it can
is still seen in the drawing by Anton van den Wyngaerde dated 1564 (Kagan
Al-Qasr Ibn Sa‘d, which Torres Balbás identified with El Castillejo de
table), was probably built between 1147 and 1165, i.e., during the
reign of Ibn Mardanish (1147-1172), and possibly destroyed by the
Almohades, who devastated the Murcian vega area (Navarro Palazón and
Jiménez Castillo 1995). The courtyard had a cross-shaped garden with
two square ponds at the ends of the main axis, first erroneously
identified as pavilions. The archaeological remains found by Navarro
Palazón and Jiménez Castillo –a vast pool of 161m by 136 m (and
mentioned in 1450 in Christian documents), irrigation acequias, an
enclosed orchard, an aqueduct, etc.– show that the palace was located
within an important estate. The remains of Al-Hisn al-Faradj [The
Castle of Larache] is located 500 m from El Castillejo.
The recent excavations carried out in the Convent of Santa Clara la
table) revealed a cross-shaped garden built in the times of the
Taifas formed by two wide paths with acequias and a pavilion in the
Al-Qasr al-Sagir [The Minor Palace, Sp. Alcacer Ceguir] was built
on the ruins of Al-Dar al-Sugrà and later transformed, probably in
1365. It followed the same layout as the Nassrid palaces, with two
opposing arcades on the shorter sides of a rectangular courtyard (Navarro
Seville [Isbiliya] 6
The Alcasar [Sp. El Acázar] is the result of the continuous
overlapping of different courtyards, palaces and gardens built both in
Muslim and Christian times, starting in the 8th century. Although it
was in the hands of the Castilian kings in the mid 13th century, the
labourers – especially the gardeners – continued to be Muslims until
the 16th century (Domínguez Casas 1993: 97-98). In the 11th century
the Taifas built the Blessed Alcasar [Al-Qasr al-Mubarak], the
residence of King Al-Mu‘tamid (born 1040, made prisoner by the
Almoravids in 1090) (Guerrero Lovillo 1974). This was built around the
original Umayyad core, the Al-Dar al-Imara [the House of Government].
Construction of the Gothic palace was begun in the times of Alphonse
X, its main remodelling being promoted by Alphonse XI and his son
Peter I, following the Moorish style. The courtyards and gardens were
later transformed according to the Renaissance style, although
probably maintaining their general Muslim organization, with myrtle
hedges and orange and lemon trees. The so-called Mercury Pool [El
Estanque de Mercurio], which holds some 670 m3, is probably the
original Muslim pool used to irrigate the gardens.
The excavations undertaken in 2002 and 2004 in the Maidens’ Patio [Sp.
El Patio de Doncellas] (see
table) brought to light a garden with a long pool and two
flowerbeds, built (but never in use) during the reign of Peter I of
Castile (1334-1369). This discovery has thrown light on other examples
of similar patios in the Alcasar, such as El Patio del Yeso (see
table) and El Patio de la Casa de Contratación (see
table), as well as in other places outside Seville, such as the
patio of the Convent of Santa Clara la Real in Tordesillas (Valladolid)
(Almagro Gorbea 2005a). The original 14th century garden was restored
by the first author with the collaboration of Antonio Orihuela Uzal.
El Crucero (see
table) owes its name to its cross shape. It was probably the most
important garden made by the Almohades. The original Muslim level of
the garden, which was completely surrounded by porticos, is 4 m deeper
than that of the current garden. The garden was greatly transformed by
King Alphonse X, who built two galleries in a cross-shape along the
axis of the garden (Almagro Gorbea, 1999).
Münzer (1951: 64) recorded the Alcoba Orchard [Sp. La Huerta de la
table) as containing between six and ten orchards of different
size, and which contained a great number of myrtles, citrons, lemon
trees and orange trees. He was surprised to find a pavilion in one of
the orange groves. He mentions the pavilion being rebuilt between 1543
and 1546 by Juan Fernandez, perhaps on the basis of a Muslim qubba.
This pavilion has a remarkable likeness to that recently discovered in
Rusafa, Syria, which was built between the 7th and the 8th centuries (Ulbert
1994). Navagero (1983: 35-36) confirms the impression of Münzer,
recording that in the Alcoba Orchard there were a great many citron,
lemon, lime and orange trees.
The Contracting House Patio [Sp. El Patio de la Casa de Contratación]
was segregated from the Alcasar in the 16th century to serve as the
contracting house for the Indies (Vigil Escalera 1992). Like the El
table) garden, its layout is a cross-shaped courtyard with a
fountain in the middle, four acequias, and four flowerbeds with
interlaced arches two meters below them. The palynological studies
performed during the excavations of the 1980’s showed remains of
citrus and palm trees. In the light of the recent findings made in the
Maidens’ Patio, this cross-shaped courtyard should perhaps be
reinterpreted as a non-Muslim creation. The patio was probably
renovated during the reign of Peter I, i.e., in the 14th century,
while the first structure (still visible) was built by the Almohades (Almagro
The name of the Al-Buhayra garden [Sp. La Huerta Dabenahofar or La
Huerta del Rey] (see
table) is taken from the Arabic for ‘lake’ (buhayra) – although
its once nearby namesake has long dried up. The enclosure covered an
area of 18 ha. It was built at the initiative of Abu Ya‘qub al-Mansur;
work began in 1171. According to Ibn Sahib al-Sala, it was located in
front of the Meat Gate (Bosch Vilá 1984: 281). The Muslim chronicles
mention the construction of a pavilion and the planting of the orchard
in the time of the Taifas. Probably starting around 1171, the
Almohades built a large pool at the foot of the pavilion which was
filled by a former Roman acequia coming from the surroundings of
Alcalá de Guadaira (Torres Balbás 1945). It was surrounded by a clay
wall which Abu l-Khayr refers to as Al-Ha’it al-Sultan (the King’s
Wall). Ten thousand olive, fig and other fruit trees, as well as vines,
were planted there up until 1195. Navagero (1983: 38) saw the pool (whose
sides measured 45 m) found in the excavation, as well as a palace and
orange trees. The garden was excavated in the1990s and a kind of
pavilion was discovered (Amores Carredano and Vera Reina 1992).
Little is known about the other palaces existing in the Taifa period,
such as the Al-Qasr al-Zahir (the Brilliant Alcasar) situated on the
right bank of the Guadalquivir and surrounded by poplar and olive
groves, or the Al-Qasr al-Zahi [the Prosperous Alcasar], a small
castle with a qubba known as Al-Sa‘d al-Su‘ud (Guerrero Lovillo 1974:
93-95). There were also some other gardens known as Al-Djannat
al-Musalla [the Chapel Gardens] south of the town, and a certain Al-Mardj
al-Fidda [the Silver Meadow] close to its walls (al-Himyari 1938: 27).
In the Middle Ages there were orchards around the walls, such as La
Huerta de los Corrales [the Corral Orchard] at the Carmona Gate, La
Huerta del Hoyo [the Pit Orchard] at the Sun Gate, La Huerta de Zulema
[the Zulema Orchard] at the Macarena Gate, and La Huerta del Mariscal
[the Field Marshal’s Orchard] between the Charthouse and Triana (Montes
Romero-Camacho 1985). The size of these orchards ranged form two to
five aranzadas (1-2 ha); they normally had a water wheel and a pool.
The most common trees cultivated were orange, lime, lemon, fig, quince,
plum, apple and myrtles trees, along with vines.
Toledo [Tulaytula] 7
Al-Hisn [The Castle, Sp. Alficén] was completely destroyed and its
plot occupied by the Alcasar, the Holy Cross Hospital [Hospital de
Santa Cruz] and the Convents of La Santa Fe and La Concepción
Francisca. Although it can be seen in a plan drawn in the 16th century
by El Greco (Theotocopuli, 1967), the scale is unfortunately too small
to tell much about it. A party held at the Castle of Toledo is
mentioned by Ibn Hayyan (Ibn Bassan 1979: 126-37. Delgado Valero 1987:
247, note 271), who records that there were two pools with some
extremely well-made gilded lion statues in the corners. The water
poured out through the lions’ mouths into the pools. At the end of the
pools there were two ‘strange and beautiful basins embellished with
animals, birds and trees and crowned by two trees of silver, all
The King’s Orchard [Al-Munyat
al-Na‘ura, Sp. La Huerta del Rey] is among the several orchards
around the walls of the city quoted from the Middle Ages until the
beginning of the 17th century. This is where King Al-Ma’mun ben Di l-Nun
(who reigned between 1043 and 1075) had his estate (Torres Balbás
1950: 454-463). Nowadays, it is usually known as El Palacio de Galiana
which beyond doubt corresponds to an old Muslim palace (Pérez Higuera
1991: 343-7). According to Ibn Sa‘id, ‘in this beautiful place there
was a luxurious vaulted pavilion built by the King of Toledo’ (Sobh
1986: 53-4). Other authors mention a pavilion of coloured glass
embellished with gold on an island a pool in the garden (al-Maqqari,
1840: 239-40. Pérès 1953: 150-1). In 1084, Alphonse VI of Castile
occupied the King’s Orchard and established himself in this Muslim
palace. In 1090 the Almoravids felled all the trees in the valley and
in 1110 devastated it and destroyed the palace. It was again sacked in
1196 by the Almohades at the command of the Sultan of Seville, Ya’qub
al- Mansur (Gómez Moreno 1916: 11-2. Torres Balbás 1950: 458).
Although the palace was restored in the 13th century (perhaps in
14th), Navagero (1983: 25-26), who saw the palace abandoned in 1525,
described the King’s Orchard as a plain irrigated by river water
wheels and full of trees and fruits, ‘with everything farmed and made
orchards. In the mid 16th century many orchards and groves were still
to be found in the Tagus valley, and there were two large, beautiful
woods plenty of refreshments and fruit-trees’ (Medina 1549: 87). Two
river water wheels are seen in the view of Toledo drawn in 1563 by
Anton Van den Wyngaerde (Kagan 1986: 132-134). One seems to be placed
exactly in front of the palace. At the end of the 17th century there
were still several water wheels in La Huerta del Rey: one called de
Raçaçu, another called de la Alberca, one known as de La Islilla,
those in the Palacio de Galiana, and one in the orchard of Laytique (Pisa
1695: 25). In the 19th century Gautier (1920: 230-1) recorded a animal-drawn
water wheel in a group of trees close to the Palacio de Galiana. The
palace was restored in the 1950s under the supervision of Fernando
Chueca Goitia and Manuel Gómez Moreno (Delgado Valero 1987: 317).
According to the Arabian traveller Al-Idrisi (12th c.), the Tagus
valley was home to orchards (basatin and djannat) irrigated by
acequias (saqiyat/sawaqi) and river water wheels (dawalib), as well as
numerous farms and castles (al-Himyari 1938: 132-133, 160). According
to Ibn Said, there was a grove of wild pomegranates outside the
Bisagra Gate (Ibn Bassal 1955: 33). In the 12th century there was a
certain Huerta del Qadi [the Qadi orchard] close to the church of San
Pedro (González Palencia 1930: 81-82). There was also La Huerta del
Ajuneyna [the Ajuneyna Orchard], La Huerta de los Frailes [the Friars’
Orchard], and another orchard belonging to a certain Alhanaxí.
Northwest from the town was La Huerta de la Alhofra [the Moat Orchard]
and south from the town, in the Iron Gate neighbourhood, lay the Al-Munya
al-Kudya [the Alcudia Orchard]. The latter can be seen at the south of
the town, between the walls and the river, in a view of Toledo by
Petrus de Nobdidus. This engraving, made in Rome and dated 1585, bears
the name Guerta de la Alcurnia. According to this engraving, it was a
charming enclosure with a small summer house surrounded by trees and
with a wall made of masonry – except along the riverside where there
was a hedge made of brambles (Martín Gamero 1857: 58). The continuous
flooding of the river destroyed the orchard. Today, its toponym Arenal
de la Alcurnia (Alcurnia Sandy Ground) is all that survives.
The Convent of Santa Clara (see
table) was installed in the palace built at the initiative of
Alphonse XI and Peter I. The buildings around the
Vergel are of the time of Peter I. According to Bujarrabal and
Sancho (1990), the old courtyard, which was completely rebuilt in the
17th and 18th centuries, had arches on all four sides, probably made
of brick. The Claustro del Vergel was excavated between 1988 and 1990,
revealing a square structure that leaned out towards the gardens. This
was interpreted as the foundations of a pavilion like that in the
Lions Courtyard of The Alhambra. However, they were probably ponds. It
is not clear whether the garden was divided into two or four
flowerbeds (Almagro 2005b. Ruiz Souza 1999).
Valencia [Balansiya] 8
Al-Munyat Ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [Ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s Almunia, Sp. La
Huerta Mayor o de Villanueva] was built during the reign of Al-Mansur
b. Abi ‘Amir (1021-1061). In the times of the Almoravids it had a vast
garden crossed by a acequia. In the middle there was the palace (Torres
Al-Rusafa [Sp. La Ruzafa] was located southeast of Valencia (Torres
Balbás 1950). See the drawing by Anton van den Wyngaerde, dated 1563 (Kagan
Zaragoza [Saraqusta] 9
The construction of Al-Dja‘fariyya [Sp. La Aljafería] (see
table) began in the times of Al-Muqtadir bi-llah b. Hud (c.
1065-1081) and Ahmad al-Musta‘in II (c. 1085-1109). The current Patio
de Santa Isabel is the result of several transformations carried out
between the Middle Ages and the 20th century, including the original
Muslim garden, which was built in times of the Taifas. It is even
possible that the garden were greatly transformed in the 14th century
in the time of Peter IV El Ceremonioso since its layout partly follows
that of El Patio de las Doncellas in the Alcazar of Seville (Sobradiel
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* Escuela de Estudios Árabes (CSIC), Cuesta del
Chapiz, 22, 18010 Granada, Spain. E-mail:
** E. T. S. de Arquitectura y Geodesia (Universidad
de Alcalá de Henares), c/ Santa Úrsula, 8, 28806 Alcalá de Henares,
 Most of the information contained in this catalogue is taken from
the PhD dissertation of the second author, which was presented at the
School of Architecture in Madrid in April 1998. The bibliography, both
in Arabic and Western tongues, has been updated with more recent works.
The drawings were made at the School of Arabic Studies in Granada (Escuela
de Estudios Árabes, CSIC) over the last fifteen years. We would like
to express our gratitude to Expiración García, for checking the
manuscript, and Adrian Burton for correcting the English version.
 Almeria was conquered by Ferdinand V of Aragon and Isabella I of
Castile in 1489.
 Conquered by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1236.
 Conquered by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.
 Conquered by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1487.
 Conquered by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1248.
 Conquered by Alphonse VI of Castile in 1085.
 Conquered by James I of Aragon in 1238.
 Conquered by Alphonse I “the Fighter” of Aragon, in 1118.