Patio de la Acequia
Courtyard in Granada
The Patio de la Acequia or Patio of Water Channel is a patio in the Generalife in the Alhambra Complex, in Granada, Spain. It is probably the oldest garden in the West that has preserved that use since its origins.
What does the Patio de la Acequia look like now?
Carefully and wonderfully designed, the courtyard is a feast for the eyes despite having undergone many changes over the centuries. The Patio de la Acequia is a large rectangular courtyard, nearly 48.70m long by about 12m wide. There are porticoed pavilions at the north and south on the smaller sides, with houses with upper and lower floors, although on the eastern side, the buildings were greatly affected by the 1958 fire.
Water Channel of the Patio de la Acequia
Dominating the Patio de la Acequia is the water channel in the center that runs its length, they look like two long ponds with a fountain at each end. The channel is surrounded on each side with water jets and the channel is crossed at its center by a path, forming four flower beds. The patio completely closed and is an intimate space. Nowadays there are myrtle bushes, orange trees, cypresses and rosebushes. Although the fountain jets of water were installed in the 19th century, the archaeological excavation of 1958 has revealed twelve fountain pipes have been found from an earlier period.
In medieval times the garden was sunk 40 cm below the level of the walkways, with grassy areas and flower beds interspersed with trees. The myrtle would have been arranged as hedges flanking the acequia. The irrigation system of ceramic pipes would have been hidden by the myrtle hedges. Those strolling in the garden would be sprayed by the water , as described by the Venetian ambassador Andrea Navagero in 1526.
Towards the end of the 16th century the patio was filled with earth, losing its character of a sunken garden. Also at this time the garden was planted with new flower species from the Americas, far east and South Africa. On the archway to the viewpoint you can see on the jambs of its arches are painted the symbols of the Catholic Monarchs, the yoke and the arrows, and the words “mount so much”.
As you enter at the opposite end of the water channel is the North pavilion. This pavilion was intended for the King’s chambers. The Pavilion, is painted white and has two floors, and includes the Ismail Tower and the Royal Chamber. It has a more traditional layout, with a portico with five arches, in which the one in the center is much wider than the sides, giving entrance to a triple-arched entrance that precedes the Royal Chamber. In the box of the three arches there is an inscription that tell us it was constructed year 1319, by the Sultan Ismail I.
It was possibly the area of the palace destined for the wives and family of te sultan to live. It has undergone a number of modifications since it was originally built. In its portico, the original plaster arches were replaced by brick ones. The views that we can contemplate from its upper viewpoint are unique.
West Porticoed Pavilions
All this side was originally closed by means of a high wall with a continuous overhang in the Nasrid period. In the center there was an arch that leads to a viewpoint with three windows on the sides. The central viewpoint must have been the only original opening of the Patio to the outside. It preserves inside a rich decoration of plaster-work from the time of the Sultan Ismail I ( 1314 – 1325 ), part of which was dismantled, showing that they were superimposed on others from the time of Muhammad III ( 1302 – 1309 ).
The low windows of the viewpoint are characteristic of Nasrid architecture as it allows those who are sitting on the ground, with their arm resting on the windowsill, to be able to contemplate and see the landscape around the Palace with the orchards, next to the perspective of the hill of the Alhambra and the lower city of Granada in the background.
In the year 1670 the thick wall was opened up with 18 arches. The viewpoint was turned into a Christian chapel and the plaster-work was hidden and the windows blocked off.
It was also open to the landscape, like a belvedere, radically changing the intimate character to that of a viewpoint; To this end, a narrow corridor was added to the entire length of the Patio, open to it by means of arches on the inside of which are painted the shields of the Catholic Monarchs with the yoke, arrows and the famous motto “Tanto Monta”.
The viewpoint was opened up in 1922 and reverted to its function as a viewpoint.
A small arch on the far right, from where you enter, of the west pavilions leads to a staircase leading to the undergrounds and lower gardens.
The East Wing
The construction of the east wing is new, since a fire almost completely destroyed it around 1958. Similar to the west pavilions there is an archway at the far end which which leads to the high gardens.
The Names of the Patio de la Acequia
The Patio de la Acequia has difficulty in being translated elegantly into English, the Patio of the Irrigation Ditch doesn’t quite match the beauty of the courtyard. More suitable would be the Court of the River, Patio of Water Channel.
Visiting Patio de la Acequia
For opening times of the Patio de la Acequia in Generalife see Alhambra Opening Times.
The Patio de la Acequia is part of the Generalife of the Alhambra Complex and access it you need to purchase Alhambra Tickets or a Alhambra Guided Tour.