"Your brother was murdered and you sit here in the Water Gardens staring at the sky and doing nothing."
―Ellaria Sand to Doran Martell
The Water Gardens is a palace in Dorne that serves as a private residence to House Martell of Sunspear, the rulers of Dorne. It is located on the coast a short distance down the road from Sunspear itself.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Water Gardens are located on a beach next to the Summer Sea, three leagues to the west of Sunspear on a coastal road (about nine miles). They were raised by Prince Maron Martell as a gift for his new bride, Princess Daenerys Targaryen to mark the union of Dorne to the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. Pale pink marble paves the gardens and courtyard. Terraces overlooking the numerous pools and fountains of the Water Gardens, shaded by blood orange trees, can be reached via a fluted pillar gallery leading to a triple archway.
The Water Gardens are pleasant in autumn: hot days, cool nights, the salt breeze blowing in from the sea, and fountains and pools to admire and play in. It is one of the few places, if not the only one, in the Seven Kingdoms where highborn and lowborn children can play as equals. One day when the sun was hot, Princess Daenerys took pity on the children of the servants and guards and allowed them to play in the pools with the highborn children, starting a tradition that is still kept in Dorne to this day.
In the books, Prince Doran Martell is known to have taken residency at the Water Gardens for some time, and is known to enjoy taking his mind off his troubles by watching the children playing in the pools.
A Feast for Crows
Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne, resides at the tranquil Water Gardens, having moved there from Sunspear in 298 AC. The prince watches generations of children play there as he relaxes and thinks. He is protected by thirty guards and their captain, Areo Hotah. In Doran's absence, Sunspear is administered by Ser Manfrey Martell, Ricasso, Alyse Ladybright, Maester Myles, and the prince's brother, Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper. Oberyn visits Doran at the Water Gardens twice a fortnight.
After the death of Oberyn fighting Ser Gregor Clegane, his eldest daughter, Obara Sand, pressures Doran to seek vengeance. The gout-ridden prince reluctantly leaves the Water Gardens to return to the Old Palace of Sunspear. Doran later tells Ser Arys Oakheart that he intends to return to the Gardens with Princess Myrcella Baratheon. Doran's daughter, Princess Arianne Martell, takes Myrcella away from Sunspear in a failed attempt to crown her, however.
After Cedra sneaks a message from Arianne, who is imprisoned in Sunspear, Doran has the servant reassigned to the Water Gardens. Doran tells Arianne that Ellaria Sand and her daughters are ensconced at the Water Gardens.
A Dance with Dragons
Prince Quentyn Martell recalls that while visiting his father, Doran, at the Water Gardens, Doran explained his plan to wed Quentyn to Daenerys Targaryen.
After a feast welcoming Ser Balon Swann to Sunspear, Prince Doran intends to bring him to the Water Gardens where he will hear the story of the wounded Myrcella.
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