The spiral minaret of Abbasid Samarra

This picture is from the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This spiral minaret was built out of mud brick in the 9th century, when Samarra was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. It is in Iraq, 125 kms north of Baghdad. The minaret is part of the Abbasid palace complex, which is still has over 80% of the structure to be excavated. The site is on the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger list.

Persian Gardens

Earlier this year UNESCO added nine places to the World Heritage list from Iran. These had already been added to the Iranian National Heritage list, but now got World protection. These Palaces were saved specifically for their gardens, as formal gardens have been in Persia for the last two millennia.
The influence of Zoroastrianism in the 7th century C.E. meant that trees became sacred in gardens, as well as life-giving water. The gardens are walled and inward looking, a retreat from the outside world. The Mongol invasion of Persia in the 13th century brought the idea of structural and ornate design to the Persian garden, creating a very formal style. The Gardens are split into four parts, to represent the world while also being a retreat from it. The Persian word for such gardens is “pairi-daeza” which was transliterated into Paradise in English. The designs are classical, formal or casual, public or private. The Mongols took the design and idea of Persian gardens back throughout their Empire, which in turn influenced many gardens in India, with the Taj Mahal the most well known example. These Gardens are known literally as paradise on earth, which brings a new meaning to this flask. The influence can be seen as far away as the Al-Andalus, such as the Huerta de la Alcurnia and the Alhambra. Please see the previous post The Alhambra for more details and a visual tour.
Bibliography
History of Persian Garden Design on The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies.
Persian Gardens by Firouzeh Mirrazavi. On Iran Review.
The Persian Garden by K. Kianush. On Iransaga.
The Mughal Garden: Gateway to Paradise by James Dickie (Yaqub Zaki). JStor article.
A History of the Sanctuary Garden by Mac Griswold. JStor article.
The Hispano-Arab Garden: Its Philosophy and Function by James Dickie. JStor article.
A Sasanian Garden Palace by Arthur Upham Pope. JStor article.
The Islamic Garden in Oman: Sanctuary and Paradise by John Alexander Smith. JStor article.
Garden Agon by Susan Stewart. JStor article.
A Persian Garden Carpet by Martin Conway. JStor article.

The Alhambra

This is only a quick post about the great palace of the Alhambra, as it can be studied over a lifetime and still have more to study.There is a virtual walking tour of the Alhambra available called A Virtual Walking Tour: The Alhambra done through Saudi Aramco World. There is also another virtual tour through Columbia University. Tour the Alhambra requires Quicktime & Flash plugins.

Bibliography
The Alhambra by Robert Irwin. A Scribd document.
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada on UNESCO.
If you are interested in any article on the topic of the Alhambra, Medievalists.net has many articles available here.

Bahla Fort, Oman

Made of unbaked mud brick (just like the city of Shibam) but built in the 13th century by the Banu Nebhan tribe. They ruled this area in Oman for around 300 years but there is little information on them. It is a fortified oasis, where the theology of Ibadism was centered and controlled from. Much of the 12kms of wall had fallen down and been washed away before it was placed on the UNESCO Endangered Places list. The Omani government spent $9 million to upgrade the fort between 1993-1999. It has since been taken off the Endangered list but is still Heritage listed.This is a YouTube clip showing a tour of the Bahla Fort. However, the Government of Oman also has a Virtual Bahla tour.
Bibliography
Restoration of the Bahla Fort- Oman Information Centre.
The history of Mohammedanism and its sects by William Cooke Taylor. Free book on Google Books.

The Walled City of Shibam

The walled city of Shibam is in Yemen. Known to have been inhabited since the third century CE, it is also known as the “Manhattan of the Desert”. It was the capital of the Hadhramaut empire.
The buildings seen today date from the 16th century, built out of unbaked mud bricks. There had been a flood in the 16th century and the city had been extensively rebuilt. Around 500 buildings are tower high-risers, from five to eleven floors. This was done to help defend the city from Bedouin attacks.
This YouTube clip was done by UNESCO, as the walled city is on their heritage list. It has a tour through the city.

Bibliography
Contested Townscapes: The Walled City as World Heritage by Oliver Creighton.

Ottoman gardens


The most famous of these gardens are in the Topkapi Serai. The Palace had been built on an olive grove. Suleiman the Magnificent was said to have planted over 1000 trees to improve the garden.

The above picture is a 16th century miniature of a garden party. These garden parties would have entertainers of all sorts, musicians, dancers, acrobats and poets, wandering around to entertain. The gardens would contain cypress trees and a fountain of at least one spout. The main focus of the garden, public or private, would be the pavilion. This would be situated for the best view.

The picture is of Suleiman with his son Mustafa resting in the garden pavilion (or Kiosk) listening to music. In the late period Ottoman empire, there were flower beds installed. Mainly to display tulips.

In 2006, an Ottoman garden was opened in St. Louis, Missouri. In the Missouri Botanical Garden it had been created by the Bakewell Family Trust. Photos are available to view on Flickr.
Bibliography
Gardenvisit.com- Topkapi Sarai.
Jrank- Early Ottoman Gardens.
Turkish Cultural Foundation- Turkish gardens during the Ottoman times.
Turkish Cultural Foundation- ‘Ottoman Garden’ in the US.
Saudi Aramco- An Ottoman Garden in St. Louis.
Cornucopia Issue 29 Book review for “A Garden For the Sultan”.
Middle East garden traditions by By Michel Conan, Dumbarton Oaks. Google books so only a preview.
History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Vol 1 by By Stanford J. Shaw. Google Books so only a preview.
Turkey by By Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls. Google Books so only a preview.