The Gardens

The Gardens

The grounds of Ennejma Ezzahra cover an area of approximately five hectares. The gardens are on three levels which necessitated a great deal of terracing and leveling work.

The gardens and terraces were laid out in the twenties, and even now their historic features are intact.

Certain areas had certain styles:  the Persian Garden, the Andalusian Garden, and the Path of Seville Orange Trees. Most of the greenery and vegetation in these three gardens are cypress, olive and seville orange trees, mountain laurels, and fiddlewood trees.  There are also bougainvillea, oleander, acacia, hibiscus and pittisporum hedges.

The uneven and steep terrain descending to the sea is full of plants typical to the Sidi-Bou Saïd area:  cypress, eucalyptus, agave, aloe, acacia, wild olives, prickly pears, etc. And throughout are several wooded paths.

The Andalusian garden

The Andalusian garden was established by the Baron on the upper level of the gardens surrounding the palace, opposite the Belvedere building (today hosting the National Sound Archive) and it is reminiscent of the famous garden of the summer palace of the Nasride princes in Granada, known as the Generalife.

It is arranged around a oblong pool of shallow water (2,5m x 45m) bordered on either side by three rows of cypress trees. The pool is slightly off centre with respect to the axis running between the Belvedere building and the minaret of the Sidi Bou Said mosque.

Rehabilitation and redevelopment work carried out in 2017 allowed for the installation of water jets (about 30 nozzles on each side of the pool), the restoration and commissioning of the fountain located in the pool axis, the development of an esplanade around the fountain and the required machine room.

At the western end of the Andalusian garden, against the palace’s surrounding wall, stands a small whitewashed mausoleum or tourba which served as the Baron d’Erlanger’s last resting place. When the Baron Rodolphe d’Erlanger died on 27 October 1932 he was first buried at Saint Monica’s (Carthage) and then transferred in accordance with his wishes to this "tourba" that resembles Moslem burials. He remained there until the end of the eighties when the family was about to leave Sidi Bou Said for good and they decided to transfer his remains to Switzerland.

The Persian garden

This is a small garden of graceful proportions planted with rose bushes, hibiscus, bougainvilleas and small trees (Seville orange trees) wedged between the white mass of the palace walls and a hedge of giant trees (Cypress) separating the garden from the steps leading from the intermediary level to the level on which the palace was built. With its kiosk faced with ceramic tiles and the elegant arrangement of the palace’s southern façade overlooking it, the garden evokes the delicate atmosphere of a miniature.

Taking inspiration from a Persian garden, the Baron replicated the division of space into four equal parts, not with channels forming a cross to symbolize the four rivers of paradise, as Persian tradition would have it, but with marble paving forming four small beds each planted with a Seville orange tree. In the centre, a white marble fountain adorns and refreshes the atmosphere during the hot Sidi bou Said afternoons. At the far end, a kiosk consisting of a green glazed tile canopy is flanked by two small closed spaces. The far end of this kiosk is covered with ceramic tiles of Ottoman inspiration.

The Seville orange tree Alley

Lying downhill from the palace, this small rectangular garden is laid out around a central alleyway paved with sandstone and flanked on either side by a row of Seville orange trees with oleanders in the forefront.

The northern most point of the garden is occupied by a resting area with a U-shaped bench and a white marble table; as for the southern tip, it is occupied by a large circular marble basin. The Pittosporum hedge bordering the garden shoreward opens onto a flight of 160 steps that used to lead down to the sea. From the central alley leading from the entrance porch to the palace, stairs climb down to a swimming pool built in the sixties and to a croquet pitch.

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