Posted by: Emma Plunkett. Artist.
Velez de Benaudalla Nazari Vertical Gardens. The first time I went to the gardens, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. They seemed hard to find, even though there are lots of sign posts. Actually, if you park by the church and walk, all roads lead there within 2 or 3 minutes. I enjoyed walking around the formal gardens but I couldn’t understand why all my mates were raving on about it. Once I got to the furthest corner however, and was just about to turn back, I noticed some rickety old stone stairs leading downwards.
The whole vertical gardens are adorned with beautiful surfaces of delicate limestone formations
That’s where the real fun begins. There is a solid hand rail but you need to be able bodied to make it all the way down and back up again! Cave upon cave of beautiful limestone caverns present themselves, along walk ways lined with plants. Dare to discover each nook and cranny and go down the steps further until you almost reach the road below. There is one large cavity big enough for groups to enjoy together with a pool and it’s all lit up. There are several smaller chambers where you can just sit and look in awe, some hollows go deeper the more you look around. The whole vertical gardens are adorned with beautiful surfaces of delicate limestone formations, which when you look at the details, are like intricate filigree. For me, when you glance up, the caves actually mirror the ceiling of the Nazari Palace of the Alhambra, except it has been sculpted by nature.
Water constantly runs down the rock, making huge over hangs, tunnels and grottos, all of which are constantly growing. I sit in the caves and contemplate life, loosing myself in there. You can climb and explore freely and it’s also a good place to go and escape the heat of the summer, I take all my visitors. Thankfully there are some well placed seats for a rest, on the way back up. The formal gardens are authentic original Moorish, adhering to the design of having something for all the senses.
There is a jasmine dome for shade, paths along scented herb beds, seasonal vegetables, flowers, shrubs and a large variety of well established fruit trees. There are numerous water fountains, channels and there is a waterfall by the old mill, all these make fantastic photo opportunities. If you are lucky, you might also catch one of the open air flamenco concerts during the warm summer evenings.