The Council of the Alhambra and the Generalife presents today the archaeological discovery found during the restoration works of the pavement of the Promenade of the Cypress Trees (Paseo de los cipreses)
The Director of the Council of the Alhambra and the Generalife, Mrs María del Mar Villafranca Jiménez, has presented this morning the archaeological discovery found during the restoration works of the pavement of the Promenade of the Cypress Trees (Paseo de los cipreses) that started on January 29th . It consists of a section of the Royal Canal (Acequia Real) 1.5m deep confined by two parallel mortar walls that allowed water to flow through.
The Royal Canal (Acequia Real) was the main water supply system in the Alhambra. The water was taken from the Darro river, located 6 km away and distributed in the vegetable gardens of the Generalife. Muhammad I, the first Nasrid sultan who began the construction of the Alhambra in the 13th century, commanded the construction of the canal as he was aware of the importance of having a permanent water supply system.
From that moment, the Canal became the structural axis around which human settlement in the Alhambra took place. In the Nasrid period, the Canal split into two branches before entering the Generalife: the One-Third Canal (Canal del Tercio) that ran higher, and the Royal Canal (Acequia Real) or Two-Third Canal (Canal de los Dos Tercios) which ran lower. The names of these canals are related to the amount of water flowing through them.
The Royal Canal (Acequia Real) supplied water first to the Generalife and its vegetable gardens, and then to the palaces, baths, mosques, houses, fountains, cisterns, and flower and vegetable gardens.
The Christians maintained the Moorish hydraulic system, preserving its medieval use that ensured the correct operation of the system. In fact today we can observe in the Alhambra and a great part of the old Al-Andalus territory many of these medieval water canals still in perfect working conditions.
The archaeological excavations performed on the Walk of the Walnuts (Paseo de los Nogales) by the Conservation Department of the Council of the Alhambra and the Generalife enable a better understanding of the Royal Canal and its evolution from its construction in the medieval times to the present day. The final section of the Canal runs through the Generalife, before entering the Alhambra over the moat, today Cuesta de los Chinos, and the wall through an aqueduct that has recently been rebuilt.
After the Christian Conquer the Moorish canal was replaced by another canal dug underground whose bed and sides were reinforced with stones. During the Modern period, the sediments transported by the water caused the water level to rise up to 0.5m from ground level. The construction of the Promenade during the first third of the 20th century forced the construction of a brick cover of the canal to preserve the hydraulic system.
This paramount finding has been essential to know the exact structure of the water supply system in the palatine city and its relationship with the water distribution system in the area.
The Department of Conservation and Maintenance of the Council of the Alhambra has split the restoration works of the pavement of the Walk of the Walnuts (Paseo de los Nogales) into two phases with a total budget of 755,852.38 € and an execution time of 12 months. The first phase started on January 29th and covers from the Entrance Pavilion to the Promenade of the Cypress Trees (Paseo de los cipreses); the second phase covers from the crossing to the end of the parallel walk to the Generalife Theatre and ends up in a small square, formerly called the Walk of the Walnuts (Paseo de los Nogales). Architect Victoria Mir de Miguel is the works manager and Mr Manuel Pérez Asensio is in charge of the archaeological works.
The Council of the Alhambra and the Generalife has decided to start up these paving works to improve the access to the Monumental Complex. Therefore, works will consist in the execution of a new pavement similar to the existing one with a nonslip finish to make walking more comfortable. In addition, it is expected that this new infrastructure is equipped with new underground canalizations that will allow a better service of the existing facilities.
Although the intervention action has not finished yet, temporarily and on the occasion of the International Music and Dance Festival of Granada, the Promenade of the Cypress Trees (Paseo de los Cipreses) is open to the general public from 12.00am. The archaeological remains of the Royal Canal (Acequia Real) will be included in the visit to the Monumental Complex.