palace gardens

The Alcazar Palace gardens in Seville are a true paradise within a bustling city. No wonder the Spanish royals still stay here when visiting! The gardens combine both Islamic elements (water fountains, rills, and geometric tile) and Renaissance elements (hedges and parterres). Although construction of the site began in 913 AD the gardens obviously date to a much more recent time.

With so many ‘garden rooms’ within, it was surprisingly easy to find a quiet space away from the hundreds (!) of strolling visitors and I was able to photograph some unobstructed views.

istanbul gardens

I recently returned from Istanbul, Turkey. It probably tops my list of favorite cities to visit considering all it has to offer; warm, sunny weather in October, lots of cultural sights, wonderfully exotic sounds and smells, and the beautiful Bosphorus.

From what I’ve read, Turkish gardens differ from Persian ones in that they usually do not include water (perhaps because water is less scarce here). Unfortunately, very few traditional Ottoman gardens remain in Turkey. The public gardens of Topkapi palace, Blue Mosque and Dolmabache palace we visited in Istanbul were all influenced by Roman (Western) gardens and included lots of water elements as in the examples below;

Topaki palace

dolmabahce palace
dolmabahce palace
blue mosque

secret garden

The most wonderful garden discoveries are usually the ones behind closed doors and gates. Inner courtyards are full of hidden treasures and I often find myself inside these private spaces and pretending not to understand any signs or symbols regarding entry. Here I came upon such a treasure in Genova, Italy (that’s me in the center with my two eldest sons), amazed how such an elaborate terraced garden is used as a parking area for the employees of the surrounding bank building.genova, Italy

villa monastero


villa Monastero, Varenna

villa Monastero, Varenna

The gardens of villa Monastero are a bit more lavish than those of villa Cipressi. This site dates back to 1200 a.d. when it was founded as a convent. The house which still stands (dated 1569 a.d.) is also open for visitors. However, with the breathtaking views of the lake, the palm plantings, fountains, tile porticos, etc, who would not want to spend every moment discovering more…

lake Como
tile mosaic in portico
aloe vera
monasterowisteria and palms