Illustrations:Pauline Dupont Lhotelain, Camille Rupin and Zeineb Sellami,
Master students at Ecole Nationale d’Architecture de Versailles
“The word paradise comes from ‘pairidaeza’, an old Persian word. ‘Pairi’ means ‘around’ and ‘daeza’ means ‘wall’, suggesting an area isolated from its surroundings, enclosed by walls. Mention of a paradise garden for the gods dates back to the first writings known to man, scripted in the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia circa 4000 BC. These accounts describe the large enclosed parks of the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians flourishing with exotic plants and animals, hinting at an early understanding of landscape.
Historical accounts tell us about the importance of gardens in Ottoman culture. According to texts written by foreign visitors to Constantinople, the Sultans received their guests for official meetings in the palace’s gardens. Foreign visitors named the Ottoman authorities as the ‘Gate of Felicity’, referring to the door of the Topkapı Palace giving access to the third courtyard, famous for its cypress trees, where the most important ceremonies were held”.