Who is up for a few beautiful moments of armchair travel? Ever since we visited the Generalife Gardens at the Alhambra, I have been dying to take you there! This was by far the highlight of our trip to Granada last month.
We were disappointed to learn that we needed to buy tickets in advance for the Alhambra, and we were unable to get them, even trying a week before our visit. So that is a tip to keep in your pocket for your trip to Granada– buy your Alhambra tickets early!
That said, getting into the garden was no problem, and honestly, there was so much to see there that I was glad it was all we had on our agenda for that half of the day.
First, a quick little history lesson…
The Palacio de Generalife (Architect’s Garden) was built in the early 1300’s, as the summer palace and country estate of the Moorish kings of Granada in Al-Andalus (now Andalucia).
The Generalife Gardens include the Patio de la Acequia (Court of the Water Channel or Water-Garden Courtyard), which has a long pool framed by flowerbeds, fountains, colonnades and pavilions, and the Jardín de la Sultana (Sultana’s Garden or Courtyard of the Cypress). The former is thought to best preserve the style of the medieval Persian garden in Al-Andalus.
Originally the palace was linked to the Alhambra by a covered walkway across the ravine that now divides them. The Generalife is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens.
Some changes have been made to the gardens since their Moorish occupation. The gardens now growing were started in 1931 and completed by Francisco Prieto Moreno in 1951. The walkways have been paved in traditional Granadian style with a mosaic of pebbles from nearby rivers. No one really knows what the Generalife originally looked like, because it has been altered and rebuilt numerous times throughout the Christian period. These changes were at first necessary because of deterioration and neglect that was the result of the late Muslim period and later on they changed its layout and revamped many of its features. The Generalife is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Granada, along with the Alhambra palace and gardens, and the Albayzín district in which they reside.
And now, on with the tour!
First of all, the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens are high up in the hills, overlooking the city of Granada. It’s a great place to just walk around and enjoy the views. The outer parts of the gardens include fruit trees (figs, pomegranates, walnuts, and more) along with a vegetable garden (I saw lots of eggplant!). The higher level also had a vineyard. You also get to enjoy views of the much more elaborate Alhambra grounds from the Generalife Gardens. (Dying to get there next time!)The lower gardens are filled with sculpted cyprus trees, roses, and fountains. I love the walkways that are so beautifully decorated with rocks. This area was designed as a public park. In the 1950s, an ampitheater was also added, which hosts the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance each year. Wouldn’t it be amazing to attend that? There are flower beds throughout that are a lovely jumble of trees and flowers, that fondly remind me of English gardens. But with orange trees! I have a real soft spot in my heart for Spain’s orange trees, and seeing them here made me smile. We climbed some stairs from the lower gardens to enter the Patio de la Acequia, which means the Water Canal Courtyard. This courtyard is completely closed in with walls lined with gorgeous archways, and has a very long fountain down the center. So lovely.What I loved the most was the intricate carvings and gorgeous shapes of the archways. And the way they framed the gardens outside, and even views of Granada was just beautiful and perfect. And it was also the perfect spot for Amelia and me to pose for the camera. And to enjoy even more views of Granada– such a beautiful city! From here, we climbed some stairs to a really wonderful lookout point. Yep, more arch-framed views of Granada.Something interesting about these buildings is that they look quite plain/rural on the outside, but the inside is such a lovely surprise.
See?After this, we passed through another courtyard full of fountains, flowers, and citrus trees. This took us almost to the exit, but before that we climbed some more stairs to this “romantic observation point.” I wish I could have gone inside, but it was pretty just to look at, and I imagined the view over all of the gardens, down to the valley below.The exit out of the gardens was also dreamy, first with a staircase that had a little water channel running down it, and then a wide walkway with archways of pomegranates covering the pebble mosaic sidewalk. (I didn’t get any great pictures, it was so shady.) Then we walked through a little bit of forest, until we reached the gates where we had entered the Generalife Gardens. It was so beautiful!
Thank you for coming along with us– knowing that I would be sharing it all with you later really made me enjoy it that much more!