Posts Tagged ‘alhambra’

SI Research Notes: Gardens of the Alhambra in Washington, DC

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Linda Stevens is Field Notes Coordinator for Smithsonian Journeys. Combing the Institution for interesting projects happening around the world, she prepares these research notes especially for travelers. Learn more about Linda here. Click here to see more research notes.

A view through the Smithsonian Fountain Garden through April's blooming Magnolia trees to the Enid A Haupt Garden. Photo: Betsy Brand

A view of the Smithsonian’s Fountain and Enid A. Haupt gardens through April’s blooming Magnolia trees. Photo: Betsy Brand

The Smithsonian Institution includes a number of outdoor museums. These alternative centers for learning are the colorful and attractive gardens that surround the Smithsonian museums along the National Mall. The Horticulture Services Division was established in 1972 to manage the grounds of the Institution museums in Washington, DC, and to develop specific interior and exterior spaces as horticulture exhibitions. In addition, a research and educational program promotes the ongoing development of collections of living plants, horticultural artifacts, and garden documentation.

The Enid A. Haupt Garden is located on the National Mall above the underground Sackler Gallery, the Ripley Center, and the National Museum of African Art. The Haupt Garden, which opened to the public in 1987 when these Smithsonian museums were inaugurated, includes three distinct areasthe Asian-influenced Moongate Garden, the central 19th-century-style parterre, and a Moorish-style Fountain Garden. This garden is geometrically symmetrical and includes a central fountain and water channels. The Fountain Garden is modeled after the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra, a 13th, 14th, and 15th century Moorish palace and fortress in Granada, Spain, now included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The legendary Court features a chahar bogh a Persian term meaning “four gardens”pattern of four quadrants formed by water channels that meet at a central fountain. (more…)

La Alhambra – One Great Reason to Visit Granada

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
The interior of the Hall of the Abencerrajes of Granada's La Alhambra utilizes Mocárabe design, showing the deep impact of Islamic architecture throughout the Moorish world.

The interior of the Hall of the Abencerrajes of Granada's La Alhambra utilizes Mocárabe design, showing the deep impact of Islamic architecture throughout the Moorish world.

The original Alhambra was a primitive red stone castle used by Arabs for shelter from battle during the rule of Abdullah ibn Muhammad (r. 888-912). The tiny castle didn’t prove much of a shelter and fell to ruin. During the Nasrid Dynasty, the last Arab Muslim Dynasty in Spain, interest in the site was rekindled and a palace complex was completed there during the 13th and 14th centuries. Muslim rulers lost Granada and the Alhambra in 1492, when King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella conquered the surrounding region.

The Hall of the Abencerrajes, so named for knights that may have been beheaded there, is topped with a Mocárabe dome. Mocárabe, also known as honeycomb or stalactite work, may be representative of the cave where Muhammad received the Koran. The following inscription is written in the hall: “There is no other help than the help that comes from God, the clement and merciful One.”

La Alhambra was famously the childhood home of Katharine of Aragon, the first of Henry VIII’s six wives. Today, La Alhambra is Spain’s most famous example of Islamic architecture; additions and alterations have been made to the site by Spain’s Catholic rulers since the 16th century.

Click here to learn more about Spain and how you can visit the Alhambra yourself.