BLOSSOMING ALMOND TREE
by Vincent van Gogh
The Algarvian countryside clothed in white
Heralding the arrival of spring, almond blossoms bathe the Algarve in an unforgettable and dazzling show.
A delicate mantle of pink and white extends throughout the Barrocal lands on the orchards of inland Algarve, where many villages retain their Arabic names.
There, the special colour bestowed on the countryside by the luxuriant almond trees recalls the same flowers which, long ago, enchanted a certain Northern princess, as the Moorish Legend of the Almond Blossom tells us.
According to this delightful story, during the time when Al Garb still belonged to the Moors, there reigned a young Caliph in Silves called Ibn-Almundim, who fell in love and marriedGilda, the daughter of a great lord from the North, who had been defeated in battle by the Moorish king.
Their love was mutual, and the marriage was celebrated in grand style. However, the beautiful princess grew sadder day by day, with the Caliph unable to make her smile. They consulted magicians and wise men from all over the world, but none could find a cure for her sadness…
Until one day when an old Nordic man told the king that Gilda was longing for the white snow-covered fields of her homeland. Ibn-Almundim then ordered thousands of almond trees to be planted outside the windows of the palace, which, when they were in blossom, covered the land with white petals. The illusion took away her longing and she became joyful once more.
And this is why, since that spring so long ago, the Algarve relives each year the magic of the almond blossom.