Moorish Gardens

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In Spain in VIII - XIV c. A.D., after its conquest by the Arabs (the Moors), appears the special form of garden called the patio. This is a closed type of garden, in which the ancient traditions and Persian gardens merged during its development. The oldest of the still existing, preserved Moorish gardens is the patio of the palace ensemble in Grenada. The garden is isolated on the terraces, it is limited by the colonnades of towers, palaces and walls. The patio's purpose is to provide a place for relaxation, meditation and contemplation; therefore the presence of ponds, fountains, tile mosaics and concise gardening is characteristic of it.

The nature of the Moorish garden - is the simplicity of planning and the uniqueness of the solution. Water is the primary motif of the garden. In the regular planning style a courtyard - patio is always present. Specific points are arranged and arcades take shape. The plants are exotic and correspond to the climatic conditions: mandarins, cypresses, oranges and oleanders. They are planted freely and trimming, for the most part, did not adapt. Lawns were not used because of the hot climate and the territory took shape through decorative paving - this is one of the key elements of Moorish garden. Cultural bloom at this time was observed, many cities from India to Spain were proud of their gardens. In order to give the gardens a certain charm irrigation systems built by Romans were used. But, in spite of all of the aqueous splendour vertical fountains were nevertheless built in the style of delicate modesty, as in the court of channels in the mixed gardens of Granada, for example.

It is not so complicated to understand why the nomads valued water so highly. This cultural basis brings together the creations of the Arab masters of landscape with the Chinese and Japanese, where the garden was created as place for the meditation and "personal luxury", but not as public property, which was characteristic of the Greeks and Romans.

In the Moorish gardens and fountains it is possible to isolate two main features. First of all the fountains never contained the imprint of the human essence, the artists ideas were never combined with man or his humanly form since the Koran forbids the depiction of the exposed body. Furthermore, designers were more restrained in the estimation of a quantity of utilized water (if we do not consider some Turkish gardens), although this restraint was always found in balance with a feeling of aesthetical "completeness", self-sufficiency of a garden.

They connected channels (originally used for irrigation), pools and fountains which created freshness mixed with the finest aromas. The small drinking fountains, where the water jet hardly rises above the surface, represents the best example of this fantastic use of subtlety.  The pools of fountains were designed to always be full to the brim with water. This allowed them to develop a complex system of channels for the water to flow into. Ponds were usually decorated with patterns in the form of a lotus, which visually enlarged their volume. Fountains in the Islamic gardens were almost always located low on the ground, sometimes even hardly rising above the level of the surrounding view. They had to cool the atmosphere around themselves with the aid of the evaporated moisture, and this sufficiently ordinary feature combined wonderfully with its religious purpose.

The adepts of Moorish style also actively used water in other elements of the garden, for example, accurately directing invigorating moisture along the channels purely for irrigating purposes, when its decoration potential was exhausted. This characteristic and stylistic feature was unfortunately absent in Italy's epoch of Revival and somewhat later, where the water which flows to the feet of hills was used wastefully.