It is 20 years since I visited Cordoba in Spain, though I have been a regular visitor to Andalusia and Extremadura since on bird watching trips. My good friend and colleague recently visited the Grand Mosque and noticed these excellent examples of rain gardens built over 1000 years ago.
The Muslim world understood the importance of water. The green roofs at the Alhambra are shining examples of how water can be used and can be dealt in terms of sustainable urban drainage. These small rain gardens in the plaza outside the Grand Mosque house Orange Trees, bearing fruit but were also places for worshippers to wash their feet.
They arealso rain gardens conceived in medieval times. Just shows we have a lot to learn from the past and in these times of ‘conflict’ the Muslim world. When the rain comes each circle collects rain and filters it through the sand. ONce the circle reaches capacity it flows onto the next circle and so on. Only when all are full does the rain water enter the modern drainage system. Simple effective and a classic example of ecosystem services. Multi-beneficial – reduction of flash floods, a religious purpose and the production of food.
These are no different to the current modern version, exemplified by the City of Portland, in Oregon.