Patio de Cipres in Granada Courtyard of the Sultana

The attractions of Andalucia and Granada can quite literally be encyclopedic in detail and length. We wont go all the way but we will go somewhere close and hope you enjoy our look at the Cypress Courtyard in Generalife Granada.

The space between the Patio de la Acequia and Patio del Cipres used to be open and green, as it was filled with trees, plants and flowers, but galleries, walls and small structures were added during the XVIth and XIXth Centuries. It is not considered Nasrid in design and its history is a little unclear.

Patio del Cipres means Cypress Courtyard, yet there are no cypress trees here. The most prominent structure is the gallery of arches built on two floors; the arches on the ground floor are almost twice as high as those on the upper floor. The whole patio is enclosed in a wall. A stairway leads to the Upper Gardens.

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Legend of Patio del Cipres

This Patio has another name, that being the Courtyard of the Sultana. A legend of romance and tragedy surrounds this splendid place. The wife of the last sultan of Granada was a beautiful woman who was treasured by her husband. There can a time in their relationship when she became enamoured with a member of another local and powerful family, called the Abencerrages family. This turned into an affair as time after time and she secretly met him here. Unfortunately, the sultan found out and in his wild rage of jealousy, had all the men of the Abencerrages family murdered in a room in the Leones Palace. The place where this happened is called the Hall of the Abencerrages.

Ponds and Waterfalls

Two ponds monopolize the patio’s space; the smaller one is in a square hedge box with a fountain in the middle, while the larger one shaped in a U surrounds it. Such a shape is not a Moorish design. Water is visible everywhere. Delicate and soft would have been how water sounded as it flowed through the canals and waterfalls during Nasrid times, but each pond now has jets of water to replicate the sound of rain falling.

Picture of the fountain in the Cypress Patio in Granada

Picture of the gateway to the upper gardens in the Cypress Pation

Upper Gardens

Walk up the small stairway that leads up to the Upper Gardens. Just before the pathway leading up the hill, you will come across a circle of 4 hedges with bright colours surrounding a fountain. These gardens are laid out in three sections, each one separated by a low wall. As you climb, a sense of symmetry becomes noticeable despite the size of each section shrinking, because two small clusters of trees, flowers and hedges populate them. You will be sure to find places to sit and enjoy a few moments of tranquility.

The true treat of the Upper Gardens is the Water Stairway, a beautiful relic of Nasrid design. Thankfully, no one has had the temerity to remove it as it has mesmerized visitors for centuries. The stairway’s handrail has water flowing in it. The act was deliberate as the stairway was part of the palace’s watercourse called the Royal Waterway, which started in the hills around the Alhambra, through the Secano and under the Calle Real to the Alcazaba. As you walk up, you can not fail to notice small waterfalls that can be opened or closed to control the flow of water.

The stairway would have led to a place of prayer, but a mirador now stands in its place, which has been heavily criticized as lacking in grace and style in comparison to the main pavilions on the lower grounds, but not everyone can be perfect.

Why come to see Generalife?

Generalife, like the Alhambra, contains many architectural styles that do not necessarily blend perfectly together, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thus it is really up to you to come, see and make you own mind up. I would not ask you to make a decision as to whether or not this place is beautiful, not on your life. Much more, I would like to ask, exactly how beautiful do you think it is? From me it gets a 10 out of 10 worth a day or two and definitely worth seeing more than once in a lifetime.

Photograph of the walls ponds and arches of the Cypress Patio