The palace gardens of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba, Spain

The gardens of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, in Cordoba, Spain – set within the medieval walls and towers of a palace that the Catholic monarch Alfonso XI built in the 15th century upon the site of Visigoth and Moorish forts – have that ‘Cordoba quality’ I mentioned in an earlier post: a sense of peace, of warmth, of open skies, an easy and comfortable humanity. The gardens may not be as grand as those of the Alhambra, in Granada, but they welcome you in.

Mind you, you are met at the entrance to the palace by a rather formidable gentleman, with his bible and sword (the sword being more prominent) before you descend into the garden itself.

From the entrance you walk down wide stone steps to blue-green pools dappled with fish; there are more pools below, and formal gardens, a lushness and ornamentation that is always absorbing, but never overpowers.

Speaking of formidable gentlemen, though, one of those you will find in the gardens, standing before the king and his queen, is the stony figure (yes, this is a play on words, but it is also a comment on what is a pretty humourless and po-faced trio) of Christopher Columbus.

When you are done, there is one more thing you should do, and that is climb to the top of the towers, and look out over the gardens, and the town, with its silvery green palm trees and look to your right: there you will see the steeple of La Mezquita – the topic of my next blog.