Generalife Granada Gardens and Palace - What to see in Granada

When one takes the time to walk through the Alhambra complex, the variety of its visual treasures comes to the fore. After the Alcazaba and the Alhambra, the Generalife is the next place you need to visit. It was the summer residence of the Nasrid dynasty. The palace sits across a ravine to the east of the Alhambra. Gardens were an integral part of Moorish palaces. One can only wonder how much the fact of growing up in deserts made you yearn for green lands. Pools, pavilions, oranges were major characteristics of Moorish gardens. The Generalife fulfils all of these and more.

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The elaborate and colourful decoration of the Alhambra will not be found in the Generalife. Everything is simple and carefree. The Moorish rulers came here to get away from the tediousness of rule. The Generalife was the idea of Mohammed III, who ruled between 1302 and 1309. He was also the one who built the baths and mosque in the Alhambra. He had a covered walkway built to link the two complexes across the present ravine, but this no longer exists.

One of the many pools in the garden

The modern name has two meanings from its original Arabic one, Jannat al-Arif, which means Garden of the Architect or Garden of the High Paradise. The principal elements are the Patio de la Acequia or Court of the Water Channel, while the second has two names: the Patio de los Cipres or Jardin de la Sultana, which mean Court of the Cypress or Sultana's Garden. We would recommend visiting each one slowly so as to fully appreciate their beauty and purpose.

The green covered walkways in Generalife would have bewen the perfect setting to get away from it all by the rulers centuries ago Water abounds in the Generalife. It is hard not to find it. The dense green colour of the gardens is its testament. The benefit of pools and courtyards was that they produced a cooling effect on the house. Each garden is in four sections representing the four Rivers of Life as per Moorish beliefs. The cypress and orange tress produced a lovely and welcoming smell to the resident and visitor. The grottos and hedges provide plenty of places to sit and relax. Romantic legend is written that the wife of the last Moorish rule of Granada, Boabdil, used the gardens to secretly meet her lover.

The walkway and entrance lead to the Patio de la Acequia. A long pool holds your attention when entering it. Flowerbeds, galleries and pavilions surround it. There are two pavilions, each with a pathway. If you go through the north portico called the Mirador with its 8 arches, you will enter the Patio de los Cipres with its series of ponds and landings forming a set of waterfalls. The stage is where the International Festival of Music and Dance is held.

Aficionados believe that the Patio de la Acequia is the best example of the Moorish-styled garden in Spain. They are the oldest Moorish gardens in existence. They had to be partly restored after Granada fell to the Christians in 1492 due to lack of upkeep. The Venegas family was granted ownership of the Generalife after 1492 until it was incorporated into the national heritage in 1912. Modifications were made in the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries. Beginning in 1931, modern designers made some more. Look out for the Granadian walkways with black pebbles the River Genil and white ones from the River Darro. The Generalife is one of the most popular attractions in Granada, so it is regularly packed with visitors. Be prepared!

Patio de la Acequia in Generlife is a good, if not the best, example of Moorish Gardens

If you have an hour to spare it will not be wasted with a tour of Generalife in Granada. While looking through all of the what to see in Granada books and website like this one you will be able to get a good idea and when you see it in real life, you will not be disappointed.

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