The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, also known as the Alcázar of Córdoba, is a royal castle located in historic Córdoba next to the Guadalquivir River and near the Grand Mosque or Mezquita. Construction of the castle began in 1328 for the use of the Christian Kings when they stayed in Córdoba. The gardens were added when the Town Council purchased the property in the mid-1900s. The gardens are surrounded by the castle’s massive walls and can be viewed from its towers.
The design reflects the country’s Moorish traditions as well as the area’s climate. This is Andalusia, Spain’s southern province, and the summers here are hot and dry and winters mild. There is lots of sunshine. The aim is to have greenery in all four seasons and colour and fragrance during the growing season.
Moorish gardens do not attempt to imitate nature and are geometric in nature with water features at the center.
The garden is terraced and plants cascade over the retaining walls. An irrigation system runs down the various levels.
Water is a fundamental element in Moorish gardens and here long water pools with cascading jets of water unite the garden levels. Tall, vertical evergreens and fruit trees, clipped and aligned, border the sides of the pools and flowering plants soften the overall image.
Although the overall garden is open and spacious, intimate places have been achieved through landscaping and water features.
Cypresses are used to provide vertical interest and punctuation points. They also offer some relief from the sun and the wind.
The strong geometry of the garden layout is reinforced by low evergreen hedges that surround the flower beds
Some summer beds provide pockets of bright colour.
Some beds are more subdued.
There are wide paths throughout the garden. The path leading up to the statue of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel with Christopher Columbus is particularly broad, because it was in this castle that Columbus asked for their support for an expedition to the Americas.
It was also in this castle that the battle to take back Granada was planned. The castle did lose some of its charm when it became a seat for the Inquisition, a period of intolerance and repression in Spain, and later a prison.
Certain areas inside the Alcázar, such as the Moorish bathhouse, can be seen as part of the tour.
See also: Travel in southern Spain is surprisingly easy and so rewarding
By Sylvia Fanjoy
Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses™ 2015