Moors' Art of
the time Middle Europe was still dismembered and the small feuds exhausted
their power through everyday discords, the Moors created a mighty kingdom
on the Iberian peninsula. They came there from their native sunny and sandy
deserts with the thirst for verdure and water. The Moors were incredibly
open-minded and perceptive. They had assimilated the Persian culture and
created their own art of gardening in Spain in which they interwove eastern
traditions with architectural forms of Greece and Rome and the colorful
richness of Byzantine.
The Moors found Spain as
bare as the Arabian subcontinent is today. But Moorish masters applied
the Roman building techniques and their water supplying facilities (aqueducts,
canals, reservoirs, etc.) in particular and thus succeeded in making use
of the snow water in the high mountains of Spain (Sierra Nevada). The country
soon turned to a flourishing garden thanks to this irrigation system. The
economic conditions improved as well, so the Arabian rulers began intensive
building…The Alhambra palace and gardens are considered the most remarkable
examples of that period.
A major characteristic feature
of the Moorish gardens in Spain was their strictly limited area. However,
this perfectly matched their purpose: not for official receptions, but
for relaxation and walks of the family members. That is why the composition
is developed on a “social” scale. More space meant only more small yards,
not larger constructions. Every yard was entered through a gate, which
was rarely placed in the axis of the garden composition.
This limited space was splendidly
planted with cypresses, trimmed box-shrubs, myrtles, eucalyptuses and magnolias.
Palms replaced the evergreen species. The vegetation was always fresh in
spite of the hot climate, which was due to the lavish irrigation provided
by the masterful watering facilities.
Water played an important
role in the decorative design as well. And yet the streams of the fountains
were perfectly sized so that almost every drop fell into special shallow
pools which transported water to the small cascades with a minimum lost.
The bottom and the rims of the pools and the canals were tiled with beautiful
enameled ceramics whose colors were amplified by the water.
The function of flowers was
less significant. Grass parterres lined with trimmed box-shrubs created
an austere harmony of green shades corresponding to the use of the garden
and its compositional simplicity. The colorful effect was achieved mostly
through numerous containers arranged around the pools and near the buildings.
Sculptural decoration and architectural details were also simplified to
an extreme extent. None of the separate elements in the garden had its
own value. The pool rims represented low walls of rough masonry. Simple
parapets of steel sticks fenced the staircases. Water streams glided down
on plain chute tiles, as if accompanying the footfalls of the visitors.
The Moors didn’t seek far
perspectives. The composition is perceived gradually through the small,
even not situated in their axis arcades. As a matter of fact, the real
charm of the Moorish gardens is believed to be hidden exactly in their