Take the old road from the coast towards Granada that snakes through dramatic landscapes and one will discover the picturesque Lecrín Valley.
Vélez de Benaudalla is an ancient village that dates back to the Islamic empire of Al-Andalus, when Arabs were attracted to the area by its rich abundance of fresh water, springing up from the ground having been filtered for years as it ran down from the snow-peaked mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Here, hidden away down a narrow street there is a remarkable place; the ‘Jardín Nazarí’, created by the famous Nazari dynasty.
The intimate space is being painstakingly restored and gives an intriguing and inspiring insight to the sophisticated lifestyle of the era. . It is so good to see it returning slowly to its former glory, and later it is hoped work will progress with the restoration of the Casa Nazari, which has been left to crumble for centuries.
Referred to as ‘The Garden of the Senses’, its design embraced five fundamentals that reflected both the human senses but also the culture of the time:
Spiritual – for Arabs, the garden represents heaven on earth
Aesthetic – a garden to stimulate the senses and inspire creativity
Psychological – a peaceful environment to encourage meditation, relaxation and contemplation
Botanical & scientific – for experimentation in plant development for health and food
Food production – a garden that is also a market garden, where aromatic plants for cooking and healing are grown, together with fruits and vegetables
Each aspect of the space is designed to reflect spiritual and aesthetic values, creating a garden that stimulated the senses, inspired creativity and was also a place for medication and relaxation. The garden was also profoundly practical too, with healing herbs and a market garden.
Throughout the garden the primordial element of water is everywhere, fountains, waterfalls, even grottos with mirror like pools.
This small terraced garden is recognised as one of the finest examples of Hispanic-Muslim gardens in Spain.