The palatial summer retreat of the Alhambra is one of the world’s great gardens and a fascinating window into the lives and loves of Granada’s Moorish rulers.
Palacio de Generalife was a royal summer retreat within the Alhambra, a magnificent fortress that housed the sultans who ruled Granada until 1492. This soothing sanctuary of pools, courtyards, flower borders, mazes, topiaries and walkways is considered one of the world’s great gardens and continues to influence garden design today.
The main building is a 14th-century palace where the sultans used to relax with their harems. Tour its rooms and courtyards and then step out into the palace’s main attraction, its gardens. Enjoy a stroll in the Patio de la Acequia (Water-Garden Courtyard) among myrtle bushes, cypresses and orange trees. The focal point is a long pool surrounded by water jets that make a series of arches over it.
Enter the Patio de los Cipreses (Court of the Cypresses) a walled garden where the Sultana Zoraya is believed to have met her lover. See the trunk of a 700-year-old cypress where they are said to have enjoyed their trysts. Delight in the sight and sounds of the ponds, pools and fountains and inhale the heady scents of hundreds of colorful plant species. Pass through archways that have been created from tall cypress hedges.
To reach the upper gardens walk up the stone steps of the Water Stairway. As you do so, look to your left and right to the place where handrails should be. You’ll see channels cut into the stone where water can flow. Amble along the Promenade of the Oleanders, a shaded pathway covered by oleanders that runs along the top of the wall dividing the gardens.
Although part of the Alhambra, the Palacio Generalife is separate from the main complex. It can be reached on foot from downtown Granada or by bus. For drivers thereis free parking. The attraction is open daily and several ticket options are available depending on whether you want to see all of the Alhambra or just the palace. Check out the Alhambra’s official website for details.