If you are on a tour of Spain and are looking for an out-of-the-box experience, Granada is the perfect destination for you. Located close to the borders of Morocco, this quaint city was once the seat of the last Islamic rulers of Western Europe, and their unique culture still lives on at Granada’s Alhambra. One of the most renowned attractions of Spain, Alhambra is known as the last surviving remnant of a royal culture that cannot be encountered anywhere else in Spain. The Alhambra Generalife Gardens are among the best highlights of the ancient royal complex and had once been the leisure area for rulers when they needed a break from their royal duties. Constructed in the thirteenth century and remodelled several times over the centuries, Alhambra Generalife Gardens are made up of three main sections, namely the Lower Garden, the Generalife Palace, and the Upper Garden. The Patio de la Acequia connects the two sets of structures found in the complex and supplies water for the plants in the terraced gardens. The prominent structures visitors can witness within the Generalife range from the Generalife Palace and its environs, Jardin de la Sultana, Escalera del Agua.
The Court of Dismount, also known as the Patio del Descabalgamiento, is the main entrance to the Alhambra Generalife Gardens today. The entrance was named so due to the presence of several footrests that were constructed to help riders dismount from their horses. Visitors also get to witness two buildings on the side, which are believed to have been used by stable workers.
After walking through the Court of the Dismount, a narrow staircase would lead you to the Pabellon Norte, or simply the North Pavilion. The Pavilion has a five-arched portico and a larger central arch, which are beautifully adorned with motifs, stucco decorations, and calligraphic inscriptions. The arches are followed by an octagonal wooden-roofed gallery, which leads to the Royal Chambers.
The most stunning part of the Alhambra Generalife Palace is the Sala Regia or the Royal Chambers, which can be accessed after crossing through the Court of the Dismount and the North Pavilion. The bedchambers are lined with arches, while the magnificent architectural details include stunning plasterwork, enchanting stalactite capitals, and fine niches.
Time travel to the mediaeval ages when the last Islamic Sultans of Western Europe flourished in Spain during your tour of Alhambra Generalife Gardens. Admire the remnants of Nasrid art and architecture as you explore the sprawling terraced gardens filled with plants and beautiful blossoms. Walk through enchanting, tree-lined paths as you witness water rushing through mediaeval channels and spouting from stone fountains. The crowning jewel of Generalife is the traces of Islamic architecture that abound in the pathways and courtyards.
A must-visit feature of Alhambra, Alhambra Generalife Palace and its surrounding gardens are remnants of a culture you won’t come across anywhere else in Spain. Nestled on the hilltop that overlooks the city of Granada, the gardens have seen numerous modifications over the centuries, but have retained their original Islamic layout and certain cultivation patterns. Prepare to be mesmerised by the sheer variety of plants that serve purposes ranging from medicinal to ornamental as they fill the atmosphere with their bewitching scent. Listen to the calming sounds of flowing water as you take a break from the bustling city life at this summer retreat of Alhambra royals. From mediaeval-era palaces and enthralling courtyards to impressive stone pavilions and splendid patios, Alhambra Generalife Gardens promise a remarkably memorable experience in the lap of nature.
Alhambra Generalife Gardens have retained much of the original Islamic layout and architectural features like fountains, water channels, and ornamental structures. Among the most popular of Alhambra Gardens, Generalife oozes a peaceful and serene atmosphere and was designed as a summer retreat for the royals of Alhambra. Much of the architecture has been designed out of stone and sports minimal yet exquisite adornments like plasterwork and decorative motifs. The sprawling garden has three parts, the Lower Garden, the Generalife Palace, and the Upper Garden. The two groups of structures found in Generalife are connected by the Patio de la Acequia, which supplied water to the garden and is among the most stunning surviving structures of Generalife.
The Upper Garden of Generalife can be reached by the Escalera del Agua, an innovative ‘water stairway’ that has three flights of stairs and functional water channels in place of traditional handrails. As you climb up the mesmerising stone structure surrounded by laurel trees, you come across the Pabellon Romantico, a quaint pavilion from the nineteenth century. The Jardines Altos, or the Upper Gardens, are next to the Escalera del Agua and have been arranged in a terraced pattern up the hillside. Towards the southeast end is the Paseo de las Adelfas or the Walk of the Oleanders, a canopy of trees which leads to the exit gate of Alhambra Generalife Gardens.
The Lower Garden of Generalife sprawls over three vast hillside terraces, all of which have equal dimensions at 250 metres long and 35 metres wide, a classic example of Islamic fascination with symmetry. On the southwest side are the two lower terraces, which function as a market garden and an orchard since the fourteenth century. The topmost terrace has a number of gardens designed in the 20th century, known as Jardines Nuevos, which form the entrance of the palatial interiors of Generalife. Decorative plants like cypress and water structures like pools abound in this part of Generalife, and the open-air Generalife Theatre can also be spotted here.
Among the most important segments of Alhambra Generalife is the Patio de la Acequia or the Patio of the Irrigation Ditch. A mesmerising combination of Spanish and Islamic architectural styles, the Patio is an ornamental conduit that transfers water from Alhambra’s main canal to Generalife. Witness the lavish gardens from the tall pavilion of the Patio, which connects the upper garden with the lower garden. Planned as an interior garden space, the Patio de la Acequia has a western lookout point that had strategic purposes back in the day.
A small door welcomes to the Alhambra Palace of Generalife, a hidden architectural marvel of the ancient gardens. Adorned with fine marble, tiled lintels, and arch-key markings, the Palace is today masked by dense undergrowth. Follow the narrow staircase that leads you to the premises from the entrance as you admire the palatial residences and rooms of the structure. The Palace links with the Patio de la Acequia, which further connects it with an arcaded gallery and the Royal Chamber.
Historical rumours have it that Jardin de la Sultana’s courtyard was once the place of a forbidden romantic affair between the wife of the last Nasrid ruler and a knight, and today stands as one of the most enchanting places in Alhambra Gardens. The arcaded pavilion can be dated back to the sixteenth century and has stone fountains surrounded by cypress trees and myrtle hedges. The south end of the courtyard opens on the Patio de la Acequia and connects the Jardin de la Sultana with the rest of Alhambra Generalife Gardens.
If you are aiming to reach the highest point of Alhambra Gardens, Escalera del Agua is here to help your ascent. Among the greatest innovative features of Generalife, the ‘water stairway’ has three flights of stairs, and the handrails have been replaced by functional water channels. Constructed during the Islamic period, Escara del Agua has been built out of stone and is safe for visitors to walk upon despite being several centuries old. Surrounded by laurel trees, the stairway is one of the most enchanting visuals of Generalife Gardens.
One of the most recent additions to the ancient Alhambra Palace Generalife is the modern Generalife Theatre. Rather than adding the new structure to the garden premises, it was constructed by extending Generalife southwards. The outdoor theatre is stunningly symmetrical and is believed to have been inspired by the western design of theatres. Explore the centralised seating spaces and boxes that have been placed on both sides as you witness this modern touch that beautifully blends in with the old-world charm of Generalife Gardens.
1. Opening Hours:
Alhambra Generalife Gardens are open on all days of the year, except on 25th December and 1st January. The timings from 1st April to 14th October are as follows:
2. Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Alhambra Gardens is in the early mornings when the crowds are less and you can enjoy the guided tour of the gardens at leisure. It is recommended that you visit during the spring months for the best experience as the plants and flowers are in full bloom in this period.
Alhambra Generalife Gardens date back to the thirteenth century and are a stunning example of Islamic-style garden areas with their water channels and layout. While bougainvillaea and pomegranate trees abound in the garden, visitors can also find medicinal plants, ornamental plants, and aromatic plants. Medicinal plants like iris, ivy, laurel, lavender, thyme, rosemary and sage have been cultivated at Alhambra Gardens for centuries. The ornamental plants, which were introduced at different periods throughout the centuries, include magnolia, cypress, oleander, wisteria, trumpet creeper, and roses. Among the key highlights are the aromatic plants like jasmine and Seville oranges, which uplifted spirits and also had medicinal purposes.
Ticket prices for Alhambra vary according to the experience you wish to indulge in, which can include guided tours and skip-the-line priority access to the attractions. A tour of the Alhambra Generalife Gardens is included in the Alhambra tickets, which also provide access to all the attractions within the ancient complex. It is recommended that you purchase your Alhambra tickets online to avoid long queues at the walk-in counters and get the best discounts and combo packages.
Alhambra Gardens are spread throughout the ancient complex, the most renowned of which is the Generalife Gardens. The gardens in the complex include Generalife Gardens, the Partal, Alhambra Woods, and the Vegetable Garden. The gardens have been modified over the centuries and showcase the cultural influences of different occupants of the Alhambra.
The Generalife Gardens are not located inside the Alhambra, but adjacent to its perimeter. Modern-day tourists can visit the gardens during the Alhambra tour, but the original concept was that the Generalife Palace and Gardens were separate entities from the Alhambra complex.
Alhambra Generalife is believed to have been a derivation from the Arabic phrase, Jannat-al-Arif, which closely translates to ‘Garden of the Architect’ or ‘Garden of the Artist’. One of the last surviving examples of Nasrid influence, the garden was once the leisure place of rulers when they needed a break from their official duties.