In modern times, living green walls are springing up in bustling metropolises around the globe. Each new green wall project seems to outdo the last as architects continue to imagine new possibilities for green design. While today’s walls of green are mighty impressive, none of them live up to history’s most famous (and possibly fictional) vertical garden – the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
In my youth, I went through a stage in middle school where I obsessed over the “7 Wonder of the Ancient World.” The sprawling seaside sculpture, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Giant Pyramid of Giza and all the other ancient wonders fascinated me greatly but Babylon’s Hanging Gardens was always my favorite. As the story goes, King Nebakanezer II, the king of Babylon, constructed the Hanging Gardens outside modern-day Baghdad along the great Euphrates River.
It is said that the king built the multi-terraced gardens to please his homesick wife, Amytis, who longed for the mountainous terrain of her native land. Ancient historians described the gardens as having a complex irrigation system of water pumps that was manually operated by slaves. The garden was said to feature plant species from around the world. A true dream job for the horticulturists of 600 B.C.!
While a plethora of research has been conducted into finding evidence of the Hanging Gardens, no definitive proof has been found of the ancient wonder. This has led some historians to believe that the Hanging Gardens were merely a figment of old tales and never really existed. Evidence aside, I for one will always hold Queen Amytis’ gardens in the highest regard. For even if the gardens only exist in our imagination, there is no denying the fact that they continue to inspire the vertical gardens of today.
Read the History of a Green Thumb feature about Frederick Law Olmsted: the man behind the landscape design of Central Park and the Columbia Exposition.
Do you think the Hanging Gardens of Babylon really existed? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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