Hanging Gardens - Legends And Reality
Hanging Gardens - Legends And Reality

Video: Hanging Gardens - Legends And Reality

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Video: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: The Ancient World’s Missing Wonder 2023, February

The art of building gardens has been known to man since ancient times. Throughout all the epochs of civilizations, whatever the fashion and tastes of society dictated, the hands of creators-gardeners created gardens and parks, the fame of which has reached our time. One of the testimonies of this skill is the so-called "Hanging Gardens".

We owe this concept to the ancient Greek historians, because it was they who left us very contradictory descriptions of one of the seven wonders of the world, compiled, by the way, three centuries after the possible existence of the gardens.


The assumption that gardens actually existed is highly controversial. It is controversial, if only because even then Greek historians could not establish exactly who owned the gardens and how they looked.

It has now been clearly established that the Assyrian queen Shammuramat (she is Semiramis in translation from ancient Greek) had nothing to do with the gardens, because they (according to the excavations) appeared much later than her reign. The ancient Greeks were so delighted with the greatness of the queen that they attributed many deeds to her.

There was also a legend that the hanging gardens were created by order of Nebuchadnezzar II as a weddingt to his wife. His wife was from Media, a rather mountainous and green area, and the gardens were supposed to remind the Medes of her homeland.

In addition, now, after several millennia, modern researchers have doubts about the description of the technical device of the "hanging gardens". Construction in Babylon was carried out from raw bricks, and it is unlikely that such a complex structure with "mechanized" irrigation could have existed until the time it was described by Diodorus or Strabo. Most likely, historians saw the ruins of temples - ziggurats, which were built on the principle of a multi-stage pyramid, and since such building structures were unknown in ancient Greece, the descriptions of these structures were accompanied by beautiful legends.

Be that as it may, it was these descriptions that took on the form of a legend, which already in Ancient Greece was transformed into one of the cults of Adonis. As a result, it has become a tradition to decorate roofs with flowers and fruit trees. The closest to reality structure, decorated with artificially planted plants, was the mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, built in 28 BC.

A beautiful legend, a figment of the fantasy of ancient Greek historians, became widespread among various later civilizations and cultures. Descriptions of similar gardens, arranged on rooftops or elevations, existed in Byzantium, Ancient India and Persia.

One way or another, but it was with the arrival of the Baroque that gardens on terraces or roofs became ubiquitous. Since the middle of the 17th century, during the Renaissance, gardeners and architects have turned to the experience of their ancestors in their work. In the tendencies of gardening art of that era, the influence of the culture of the Ancient Roman Empire is clearly traced. "Hanging Gardens" appear in Italy as an element of heritage. The construction of such gardens required tremendous skill and a rather impressive investment. The Isola Bello island, which belonged to the noble and very wealthy Borromeo family, is the embodiment of the legend of the "Hanging Gardens". To this day, the garden island is the clearest example of the transformation of a fairy tale into reality.

The mention that the construction of "hanging gardens" requires huge funds is not in vain. In addition to the fact that the possibility of creating a "hanging garden" is, as it were, part of the legend about the untold riches of Semiramis, but in reality, maintaining such a garden in a blooming state requires a lot of money. Due to the absence of such, many of the "hanging gardens" of the Renaissance did not "survive" to this day.

Garden of Semiramis
Garden of Semiramis

The attitude towards this legend and its embodiment was completely different in Russia. The history of the construction of "hanging gardens" at palaces in Russia also dates back to the middle of the 17th century. But thanks to the practicality inherent in the Russian character, the "hanging gardens" began to bear a purely utilitarian character. The presence of a "hanging garden" in the mansions of the boyars not only demonstrated their proximity to the royal court, but also resolved much more pressing issues - the presence of fresh vegetables and fruits on the table. Perhaps this was due to the fact that severe winters in Russia did not allow growing exotic plants in the open field. But it seems much more probable that the notions of life inherent in a Russian person do not allow for the possibility of a garden without visible and tangible benefits.

In the history of Russia's development, everything is happening very rapidly. Those elements of Western European culture that have been forming over the centuries have gone through a very fast path of development and formation in Russia. And already in the middle of the 18th century, the Russian nobility began to think "in the Western" way, which was very significantly reflected in the appearance of the "Hanging Gardens". Under Catherine II, the "hanging garden" turned into a place of entertainment, relaxation or solitude. Quite remarkable is the fact that it was thanks to the generous "Russian" nature of Catherine II that quite a lot of "hanging gardens" were built in St. Petersburg, some of them have survived to this day. The widely known existing "hanging gardens" that have become the hallmark of our palaces fully embody the legend from a technical point of view. They rise above ground levelthe plants in them are planted directly into the ground, and the waterproofing of the lower rooms is solved at the level of the Sumerian kingdom.

By the end of the 18th century, several hanging gardens were known in the new capital. Two of them, unfortunately, did not survive, did not belong to members of the imperial family, and perhaps because of this they did not survive. One, earlier in time, existed from 1788 to 1830. This garden was located in the house of I.I. Betsky, an outstanding reformer of the education system, and was its main attraction. According to the testimony of some contemporaries, the doors of the owner's study went straight into a blooming garden filled with the hubbub of chickens artificially bred by Betsky himself. The newspapers of that time reported: "The running of the chicks around him served as entertainment for him and turned the old man's thoughts to other chicks …". It meant that I.I. Betskoy took care of the care of the Orphanage founded by him.The project of the hanging garden belonged to Bazhenov, like some others in Moscow mansions.

In 1830, the house was donated by Nicholas I to the family of princes of Oldenburg, and they immediately began to rebuild it. A dance hall appears on the site of the garden. Now, as you know, this building houses the Institute of Culture.

The second private hanging garden has an equally interesting fate. According to some reports, in 1799 Paul I decided to make a wedding gift to his favorite A.P. Lopukhina and ordered Quarenghi to rebuild the house on the Palace Embankment. The house was built in an unusually short time. Contemporaries wrote that the newly built house resembled a fashionable toy, which they drove to admire from all over the capital. In the house from the side of the yard, according to eyewitnesses, there was a graceful hanging garden. In 1809, a fire broke out in the house, as a result of which the mezzanine, the hanging garden and much more were lost. And in 1860, under the leadership of the architect L.F. The Fontana house is completely rebuilt. From the point of view of research into the history of the creation of hanging gardens, it seems funny that after many millennia the hanging garden is again presented as a wedding gift.

The history of the creation of "hanging gardens" keeps pace with progress. Because the appearance of materials such as reinforced concrete made it possible to simplify the design of "hanging gardens" and significantly reduce its cost. It should be noted that the legend of the gardens of Semiramis by this time has already been around for several millennia, but, nevertheless, it occupies the minds of many, many. The great Le Corbusier wrote: "Truly, this is contrary to logic, when an area equal to the whole city is not used, and the slate remains to admire the stars."

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