Generalife

Generalife was the summer palace and country estate of the Nasrid rulers of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus. 

Located on the slopes of the Hill, overlooking the valleys of the rivers Genil, Darro and Granada city, Generalife brought life to Alhambra.

Believed to originate from the Arabic name Yanat-al-Arif, it symbolically means the Garden of the Architect.

Muhammad II designed it as a recreational place for Muslim royalty, with residential buildings and land for grazing and cultivation.

This small place has lush gardens and fruit orchards, with Huerta Colora being the only orchard that has remained untouched for centuries.

Its rushing water and gardens make it the most beautiful section of the Alhambra Palace.

In 1984, UNESCO declared Alhambra a World Heritage Site for its essential contribution to Spain’s Moorish architectural and design heritage.

Snapshot

Day Hours: 8.30 am

Closing time: 6 pm (15 October to 31 March); 8 pm (1 April to 14 October)

Night Hours: 10 pm to 11:30 pm

Last Entry: One hour before the closing time.

Closed: 25 December and 1 January

Time Needed: 45 minutes 

Best Time to Visit: When it opens at 8:30 am.

Address: C. Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009 Granada, Spain Get Directions

Ticket Price: From €16

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What Lies Inside Generalife Gardens?

The Generalife was designed as a summer retreat for the Nasrid rulers, a peaceful place away from their busy daily lives.

It was characterized by Islamic architecture, palaces, pavilions, courtyards, and patios surrounded by greenery. 

You can stroll through its beautiful courtyards with stone fountains, orange trees, myrtle hedges, and water channels.

Generalife Gardens has three sections: the Palace of Generalife and the Low and High Gardens.

Section What to expect?
Palace of GeneralifeTwo buildings are connected by the irrigation patio, and there are galleries with arches connecting to the royal chamber
Lower GardensGardens and orchards with trees and plants like cypresses, myrtles, roses, vines, etc.
Patio of the Irrigation DitchCourtyard with an irrigation ditch to water the gardens
Court of the Sultana’s Cypress TreeThe Empress’ court with water fountains and trees
Water StairwaysThe oldest construction features hand railings through which water flows
Upper GardensGardens situated at a height resembling Granadian Carmens
Generalife TheaterAn open-air amphitheater that hosts the Granada Music & Dance Festival

Palace of Generalife 

Built in the 13th Century, the Palace of Generalife comprises two buildings connected by the Irrigation Ditch Patio (Patio de la Acequia). 

You can access the Generalife gardens through a small gate covered with undergrowths, a marble arch and a tiled lintel.

Once you go inside, a narrow staircase leads to different rooms and living areas, including the Patio de la Acequia.

This patio has a gallery with five arches and several bedrooms and connects to the Royal Chamber.

Jardines Nuevos (Lower Gardens)

The Lower Gardens, or Jardines Nuevos, provides a passageway to link Generalife to the rest of Alhambra.

The garden features plants like cypresses, myrtles, roses, and vines.

Patio of the Irrigation Ditch

It’s named after the irrigation ditch running through it, which brings water from the Alhambra.

It has a beautiful garden area, which is a significant part of the Generalife.

You can explore the upper and lower gardens from here, too.

Patio del Cipres de la Sultana

The Court of the Sultana’s Cypress Tree is an open corridor that leads to inner courtyards and gardens. 

A U-shaped water pool adorns the garden’s center and creates a refreshing environment.

It was originally the site of the now disappeared Palace Bath and is named after imaginary love legends. 

Escalera del Agua (Water Stairway)

It is a staircase with water railings protected by a canopy of laurel trees. 

Its handrails consist of three flights, each with a fountain and water channels for railings.

It is considered one of the oldest staircases in Generalife, dating back to the Muslim period.

Upper Gardens

The High Gardens offer a beautiful view of the entire surroundings, resembling Granadian Carmens.

The gardens have tiny fountains, magnolia trees, and other plants, and they protect against cold winds. 

Generalife Theatre

As you enter the Generalife, you can see an open-air amphitheater at the palace entrance.

Built-in 1952, based on the Nasrid riad layout, this theatre hosts the Granada Music and Dance Festival.

This horseshoe-shaped outdoor theater expands to the gardens southward, with cypress trees as a natural backdrop to the stage.

It has undergone many renovations to accommodate complex shows and improved acoustics. 

Which Tickets to Book?

Choosing the perfect one for you can be overwhelming with so many ticket options, tours, and night visits. That’s what we are here for!

Here are some top picks for tickets to Alhambra and Generalife:

Ticket typeAdult ticket (18+ years) priceUnique offering
Entry ticket€16Fast track admission
Ticket with Audio Guide€50Audio guide
Alhambra and Generalife Guided Tour€49Live guide, tour in 5 languages, headset to hear the guide better, option for private or small group 
Private tour€200 each for a group of twoSkip the line access, live guide, small closed group tour

Opening hours

From Tuesday to Saturday, Generalife Gardens follow these times:

MonthsGardens HoursTicket Office
1 April to 31 May10 pm to 11.30 pm9 pm to 10.45 pm
1 September to 14 October10 pm to 11.30 pm9 pm to 10.45 pm
15 October to 14 November8 pm to 9.30 pm7 pm to 8.45 pm

Note: Gardens are not open for night visits from 1 June to 31 August and from 15 November to 31 March.

How much time is needed to explore Generalife?

It typically takes around one to two hours to explore Generalife Gardens thoroughly. 

However, the time it takes to explore them depends on your pace, interest in the garden’s details, and the crowd level. 

We recommend you plan accordingly and allocate enough time to enjoy the beauty of the gardens.

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FAQs

  1. When was Generalife built?

    Generalife’s construction goes back to the early 13th century, during the reign of Muhammad III. King Abu I-Walid Isma’il redecorated it as explained in an inscription dated 1319 and is older than the Comares Palace of the Nasrids.

  2. What was Generalife for the Nasrids?

    The summer retreat and palace of the Nasrid royals, surrounded by gardens, orchards, agricultural farms, and ponds, symbolized life and rejuvenation. The royal Sultans retreated here to relax away from the official affairs of the state.

  3. Where is Generalife located?

    The gardens are located in the Northeastern corner of the Alhambra complex, on the slopes of the Hill of the Sun. They are independent of the main complex and offer a beautiful view of the Darro and Genil river valleys and Granada city.

  4. Is there a wheelchair-accessible entry to the Generalife?

    It offers wheelchair-friendly routes with ramps and pathways so that people with limited mobility can visit the different parts. 

  5. What do you see inside the gardens?

    The Generalife has peaceful gardens with beautiful flowers, plants, orchards, trees and fountains all across. It also houses the open-air Generalife Theater, which hosts the Granada Music and Dance Festival.

  6. When are the gardens open?

    The gardens are open from 8.30 am every day and close at 8 pm from 1 April to 14 October and at 6 pm from 15 October to 31 March.

    For night visits, the garden is open from 

    1 April to 31 May and 1 September to 14 October (Tuesdays to Saturdays) – 10 pm to 11.30 pm.
    15 October to 14 November (Fridays and Saturdays) – 10 pm to 11.30 pm.

Harshita
About the author

Harshitha’s heart lies where greeny mountains meet stretches of beach. She believes getting lost is the best way to explore

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