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2 December, 2019 History


Granada y sus cármenes

Imagen: Nelebka’s Room

“All over Granada, among the many gardens, both on the flats and on the slopes, we can find, although obscured by trees, so many Moorish houses scattered about, and if they could be brought together they would form another city no smaller than Granada. And although it is true that the majority are small, they all have their own water, their fountains, their roses, musk roses and myrtles, and graceful charm”. (Andrea Navaggiero)

Today we are going to speak about a typical Granada building, the carmen. It originates from the Arab-Iberian term “Karm”, the translation of which means “vine”. Its origins can be found in the Nasrid occupation, during which the tradition of a rustic garden appeared, dedicated to the cultivation of vines, and recreation.

On this occasion we shall recall a series of documents from the Albaicín Foundation Municipal Board. Of these documents we particularly recommend “Cármenes de Granada” by Luis Seco de Lucena Paredes.

The special feature of the carmen is that it is part vegetable garden and part ornamental garden, while not being fully either one or the other. It is important to recall that a carmen is a private property, a walled green area linked to a residence, which remains an urban property, but which enjoys privileged views due to its location on the slopes.

In Granada the carmenes became the true lungs of the city, in which, in the words of Seco de Lucena, “In the carmen the flowers entwine with the vegetables in endearing fusion. The adorning trees do not only perform an ornamental function. They decorate, provide shade and freshness; and at the same time, produce super fruit. In the carmen one breathes the penetrating scent of lilies, roses, jasmine, carnations, tuberose, stocks, honeysuckle, night-blooming jasmine; and at the same time one picks grenadines and chard, apricots and lettuce, plums and broad beans, peaches and spinach, pears and thistles, apples and strawberries, and the harvest provides sufficient for the consumption of a family”.


Some of the most popular carmenes in Granada are the Campo de los Mártires and the Aljibe del Rey.
The first, called “Campo de Ahabul” by the Muslims, and Campo de los Cautivos by the Christians, is the place from which Boabdil handed over the city to the Catholic Monarchs.
It is an enclave covering over seven hectares, and has been classified as a Building of Cultural Interest since 1943. There we can find a mansion surrounded by vegetable plots, English, French and Spanish gardens, patios, the Island in the lake, and a splendid Nasrid courtyard.
One of the ways into this carmen, and to the Alhambra woods, the Puerta de las Granadas, is located a few steps from Hammam Al Ándalus Granada.

The second, located in the Albaicín neighbourhood, comprises of a large main building, surrounded by vegetable plots, gardens, and other outbuildings, and covers almost two thousand square metres. One of the main distinguishing features of the place is the interior courtyard located over its reservoir, the best in the area, with a capacity of three hundred cubic metres. The building is currently used for cultural activities.

Without doubt, when enjoying Granada, apart from the obligatory visit to Hammam Al Ándalus, the carmenes are also a must see, as unique environments that we hope will not disappear from the urban landscape of the city.

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