In this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars; and by planting what was called a pensile paradise, and replenishing it with all sorts of trees, he rendered the prospect an exact resemblance of a mountainous country. This he did to gratify his queen, because she had been brought up in Media, and was fond of a mountainous situation.
The above words – admittedly quoted almost 300 years after they were said to have been written – are the earliest mention of the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Hellenic culture, the gardens were said to have been constructed close to the city of Babylon and alongside the grand palace built by the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II (642-562 BCE). As the quote from Berossus notes, they were said to have been a remarkable feat of engineering; an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and vines resembling a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks, which he ordered built in order to help his queen, Amytis of Media to overcome her homesickness for her native lands.
Whether or not Berossus was writing literally or figuratively is unclear: a lot is known about Nebuchadnezzar II’s reign and works – and there is no mention of fabulous gardens built for Amytis (or any of his other queens) isn’t listed amongst them, nor do any other ancient Babylonian texts from the times around the period in which the Gardens were said to have existed make any mention of them; further, of all the ancient Seven Wonders, the Hanging Gardens alone are the one for which the location has not been definitively established.
This has led some scholars to believe that the texts quoting descriptions of the Hanging Gardens are actually describing palace gardens that were known to exist, such those that Assyrian King Sennacherib (704–681 BCE) had built in his capital city of Nineveh (close to the modern city of Mosul in Iraq), and Berossus attributed them to Nebuchadnezzar for purely romantic / political reasons; others lean more the the belief the Hanging Gardens were simply the result of romantic imaginings.
However, whether real or not, the legend has given rise the many descriptions of the Hanging Gardens, together with a plethora of illustrations and paintings, such that it is possible to (re)create how they may have appeared through 3D modelling – or to use the basic descriptions to offer an interpretation of how the Hanging Gardens may have appeared, complete with personal expressions and twists.
This is precisely what Patch Thibaud has done within Second Life, with his utterly fabulous Hanging Garden of Babylon, a Full region design (utilising the private Full region land capacity bonus), and which is currently highlighted in the Destination Guide. Patch is a long-time Second life resident who has, down the years created some outstanding builds in-world. In fact, I recently wrote (in part) about one of his most famous – The Cathedral – which has become both an outstanding statement of art in its own right and a venue in which art can be presented, courtesy of it being located within Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat arts estate (see: A Cathedral and Silent Beauties in Second Life).
With this build, Patch (with the assistance of Cristabella Loon and Lιlly Hawk (NatalieRives)) brings together a genuinely stunning interpretation of the Hanging Gardens that mixes into it elements that are not from the period in which the Gardens were said to exist but also from periods a lot more recent, including touches that might be seen has echoing the Greco-Romano period in which the legends of the Hanging Gardens began to gain wider circulation within the (then) Known World.
The centrepiece of the design is the great “mountain” of the gardens, here presented as a towering palace, tiered without and with multiple levels within, the structure rises from the waters and surrounding gardens to offer a place of rooms, stairs, walkways, rooms, outlying tiers where trees and shrubs grow as per the classic descriptions of the Gardens. Routes window up through the interior of the building and via outside stairways and ramps connect the various levels and eventually reach the “rooftop” gardens.
The latter is a formal garden, richly laid out around a water feature, and of a kind that would look at home in the gardens of any grand European home or palace of the 18th or 19th centuries. Surrounded by building elements with the Greco-Roman lean, this “rooftop” garden also sits within rooms that have a distinctly Renaissance styling. Taken on its own, this rooftop area, complete with terraces and infinity pool, would be eye-catching enough, but it is just the jewel in a stunning crown of the design.
However, I’m not going to ramble on about the build here – I hope the photos I’m including here will encourage you to visit – what I will say is that this a genuinely engaging build, from the outlying gardens through the lower levels of the palace to the rooftop gardens. Throughout all there are numerous places to sit, paths to explore and – obviously – multiple opportunities for photography, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is one of the Seven Wonders of our Digital World. And don’t miss the boat ride around and under the palace!
- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (Antiquorum, rated Moderate)