As everywhere else, the palaces are a preserved but dead testimony of an ancient culture and artists' skills.
The gardens are a living element, that adds harmony to the whole, and helps to fade that sensation of absence and emptiness in the palace.
Generally, Muslim gardens are always part of the best in their palaces.
El Generalife gardens are the image of a Muslim paradise: cool, shady and tranquil with abundant running water. That's what the architects wanted for the Nasrid Sultan in the 13th century, to complement his summer residence, since Granada is ferociously hot and dry in summer. Trees, hedges, bushes, plants and flowers were planted on the Alhambra hill and the river Darro was diverted upstream to provide a constant source of water to the complex. It's still the sort of place where you can spend a relaxing day, appreciating the patios, enclosed gardens, walkways, fountains and pools as well as the views over the Albayzín
In the rush to see the wonders of the Nasrid Palaces it is easy to overlook the graceful beauty of the Generalife Gardens of the Alhambra. The gardens are on a hill called Cerro del Sol and have some great views of the palaces as well as the City. We found them to be a most relaxing place to walk around, sit on a bench and just enjoy before our time stamped visit to the Nasrid Palaces.
While one web site is certain that the term Generalife translates into "Garden of the Architect," others have called it the, "Governor's Garden," and the "Vegetable Garden." It was built during the 13th century but substantially reconstructed in the early 14th century by King Abu I-Walid Isma'il .
The Generalife Gardens basically comprise two sets of buildings and are connected by the lovely name, "Patio of the Irrigation Ditches." This of course is because there are several small ditches that run through the gardens supplying water.
Compared to the intricate buildings of the Nasrid Palaces, the buildings and the fountains in Generalife are very simple. There are only some special designs on the fountains and plasterwork that attest to the craftsmanship of the time.
TIP: Unless you are late for your assigned time at the Nasrid Palaces, I recommend making the gardens your first stop when you visit the Alhambra.
In 1964 I took a tour of the Alhambra. One of the things we were told was that the fountains made the air cooler. Later when I was working on heat stress problems, I found that this was indeed true. A water curtain with a fan blowing through it makes the air cooler. I was particularly impressed with the fountains and flowers of the Court of la Acequia (water garden courtyard), but I also took photos of the clipped hedges of cedar which were like walls, and a photo of an orange tree.
This was the Summer Palace, so heat was a concern. The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammad III (1302–1309) and redecorated shortly after. The Generalife is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens
Generalife - has been translated "garden of paradise" "garden of feasts" "house of delights" and "garden of the architect"
"Generalife garden that had no match"
"the noblest and most exalted of all gardens"
...Who could disagree?
beautiful gardens with beautiful flowers and with the beautiful use of water... they are wow!
"the waters speak, and they weep beneath the white oleanders; beneath the rose oleanders, the waters weep, and they sing, for the myrtle in bloom, above the opaque waters. Madness of singing and crying of the souls, of the tears!"
The Alhambra complex includes:
1. Generalife gardens with all the waterfalls, buildings, plantations, etc
2. The Carlos V Palace (a modern, though incomplete addition)
3. The Alcazar (fort & gunnery)
4. Nasrid Palaces
The Gardens are huge and beautifully laid out. Each corner has a story behind it, just listen to the multimedia kit!
Our first stop before entering Alhambra was at the beautiful Generalife gardens. These gardens surround a country house used by the Arab sovereigns of Granada, on the Hill of the Sun, which was a strategically placed vantage-point.
These gardens are so beautiful, with cypress-trees and hedges of laurel, myrtle and orange-bushes and wonderful fountains. These gardens were built around the 13th century.
From Generalife gardesn you have a wonderful view of Alhambra and Granada.
All over you will notice the aquaducts.
After visiting the gardesn you enter the Generalife palace, The Pool Court "Pateo de la Acequia" and the pavilions. It is lovely, with a pool stretching along the center with fountains on each side and with stone basins with fountains at each end, just lovely.
The pavilions are beautifully adorned.
The name Generalife derives from the Arabic Gennat-Alarif, meaning Gardens fo the Master-Builder - and they sure live up to that name with their poetic elegance and beauty.
This little palace with huge gardens, a little apart from the main castles of the Alhambra, were the recreation buildings for the sultans living in the Alhambra. There are many gardens with fountains, green laberynths, walking paths and nice views of the Alhambra, as it's situated in a nearby hill.
The entrance is included in the general Alhambra Ticket. To get there, turn right as soon as you enter the Alhambra from the ticket office. Just a 5 minutes walk from the main gate.
The gardens of the Generalife are on a hillside overlooking the rest of the Alhambra Palace, and shouldn't be overlooked.
There are elaborate well-manicured gardens divided up by trimmed hedgerows, colourful displays of flowers, enormous vegetable patches, quaint walled gardens, a palace, and fountains galore, signifying cleanliness and fertility.
Even as we walked around with the rest of the crowds, there was an overwhelming feeling of peacefulness and serenity.
It also affords great views back to the Alhambra and the old town of Granada.
Entry to the Alhambra includes entry to the Generalife Gardens.
At the end of the Promenade of the Oleanders is the Promenade of the Cypress Trees (Patio de los Cipreses) which takes you to the exit of the Generalife. The walk of course is lined with old Cypress Trees. One of the most famous of these trees is the Cypress of the Sultana. It became a secret meeting place for the wife of Sultan Abu Hasan and her lover who was the Chief of the Abencarrajes. In the centre is a pond within a pond.
The Generalife gardens were first started during the 13th century as orchards and pastures but over the years, changed considerably with the various occupants. An Italian influence is displayed in the formal patterns and hedges. Water features strongly which brings out the Islamic influence.
The lower gardens are close to the Theatre of the Generalife and connects to the Alhambra. There are three areas of new gardens. The are beautiful rose gardens and arched cypress trees which have been established close to the buildings. This area has also incorporated a Muslim-style garden which has water channels.
In 1952 an Amphitheatre was created in the Generalife for the International Festival of Music and Dance. The event has been held there every year since. In comparison the area is quite modern but also very fitting.
The Generalife part of the Alhambra was deemed the area of pleasure and relaxation for the Kings of Granada. It was a respite from the official life and affairs of the palace. The gardens were established on the slopes of the Cerro del Sol.