A legacy of the Moorish talent for landscaping and irrigation, the Jardins d’Alfàbia were probably designed by Benhabet, a 13th-century Muslim governor of Inca. The pleasures of the gardens are made possible by a spring that always flows, even in the driest of summers in this very arid land. As well as providing a fabulous oasis for visitors, Alfàbia is also a working farm.
A broad ramp leads past a moss-covered fountain to a Baroque façade, which is set off with palm trees, scrolling arabesque curves and a pair of windows called ojo de buey (ox-eye).
To the left of the gatehouse façade is a stepped, terraced cascade. Watercourses, called alfagras (little irrigation channels), serve both a practical and a decorative purpose here and in other Moorish-style gardens.
An open-ended cistern frames a mirror-like pool, called the “queen’s bath”, which is the source of all the water in the gardens. Beyond it is an indescribably lush garden scene.
From an eight-sided pergola, a paved walkway is lined with ancient amphorae shooting out jets of water. Between column pairs four and five, don’t miss greeting the black Mallorcan pig.
These were created in the 19th century and feature bougainvillea, vines, box hedges, scarlet dahlias and a lily pond. Farm products are sold at a snack bar.
An extraordinary range of trees flourishes in the gardens, including white fir, maple, cedar of Lebanon, Monterey cypress, poplar, date palm, holm oak, carob, lemon, magnolia, walnut, eucalyptus and acacia.
These magical areas are given over to dense plantings in which you can lose yourself, with the refreshing sound of running water always playing in your ears. Hidden pools and ancient walls are among the discoveries to be made.
After exploring the gardens, make your way up the hill to the wisteria-covered, L-shaped hacienda with Doric columns. Inside, traditional llengues (flame) fabrics, old prints, instruments and a guitar-shaped grandfather clock are among the exhibits.
Also in the hacienda is one of the oldest and oddest pieces of furniture on the island. This 15th-century oak chair has been known, among other things, as the Moorish King’s Chair, but the imagery on it has now been identified as the story of Tristan and Isolde. See if you can spot the king’s head.
The courtyard features a huge, 100-year-old plane tree and a moss-covered fountain. From here, you can visit some of the other rooms, then exit through a pair of vast, bronze-covered hobnailed doors, which were originally those of the Palace of the Inquisition in Palma.