The Gardens of the Alhambra and Generalife, Granada, Spain – Part two Partal and Generalife

Part two. After leaving The Nasrid Palaces in part one on a timed visit we walked through the Partal gardens, Upper Alhambra gardens and headed towards the Generalife. In the Nasrid period there would of been streets and houses here occupied by wealthy people – high ranking court officials, religious and administrative buildings and several small palaces and gardens.

Partal Gardens

One of the series of gardens within the Alhambra complex near to the Palace of the Partal

After Granada was captured in 1492 the houses fell to ruin, some were destroyed or built over and the occupants were forced to move away to the outlying Albaycin area. In the 1930’s a new style of landscaping began here as a part of the re-discovery of Alhambra.

We walked in any shade we could find through the Partal gardens along the route which passed the Tower of the Princesses, named after Washington Irvin’s tale, towards the area known as the New Generalife gardens.

Tower of the Princesses seen from the new Generalife gardens

Tower of the Princesses seen from the new Generalife gardens

The New Gardens occupy a part of the old Orchards of the medieval almunia (a kind of agricultural settlement in Hispano-Islamic times).

New Gardens

Water Pool in New Gardens

The architect Leopoldo Torres Balbas created these gardens between 1931-32. There were signs for visitors explaining that the health and appearance of the Cypress Trees had been adversely affected by the unsuitable planting and growing conditions. Hence the Cypress walls in the new gardens are also undergoing restoration, which will last several years.

Welcome seating along the central pool

Welcome seating along the central pool with some of the walls of Cypress

The gardens in place, were lush and filled with wild loose planting, Roses and Orange trees, which must provide inspiration to garden designers the world over.

New Garden loose planting

New Garden loose planting

Just before the entrance to the Generalife Palace Gardens there is another more formal area with seating, wonderful Orange trees, more roses and pools of refreshing water, if we had not been so eager to see the Palace gardens we would of lingered longer.


Garden by the Palace entrance

We walked through the modest public entrance, where a guide electronically notes your ticket number, there is only one visit allowed into the two Palace Gardens. We walked through another courtyard once used as the Stable yard and now lined with Orange trees and through to the Patio of the Irrigation Ditch. A fourfold garden divided by a water rill and backed by high walls.

The Patio of the Irrigation Ditch

The Patio of the Irrigation Ditch with the viewing Pavilion above

The water pool is 48.70 metres long by 12.80 wide. The small trees are Pomegranates, one on each side of the central axis. The 18 arches seen on the left hand side of this photo were added in 1670 when this area was altered to a Christian chamber and two further rooms were added. The restoration in 1926 removed these additional rooms and restored the patio to its original appearance.


Pomegranate Trees and water spouts in the Patio of the Irrigation

Although, the water spouts were a 19th century addition as were the raising of the beds which were originally 50 cms below the paths. Leading through the decorated arches at the far end we walked on to the Patio of the Cypresses.

Patio of the Cypresses

Patio of the Cypresses

The pool is surrounded by Myrtle Hedges and planted with roses. We read that the old cypresses on the verandas give the patio its name. The most famous is the Cypress of the Sultana in which according to legend, Boabdil’s wife used to meet another man. This led to the death of the people of the man’s tribe, their throats were slit.

Orange Tree in the Patio of the Cypresses

Orange Tree in the Patio of the Cypresses

Stairs lead out of the palace gardens to the higher level where there are more gardens to walk in, to one side is the staircase archaeologists believe to have been in Granada before the Nasrid rulers, we walked back through the avenue of Cypress tress, some are hundreds of years old, we read that some specimens are over 1,000 years old.  We felt privileged to visit.

(I gave details of buying tickets in my first post, its best to book in advance, we were advised that tickets are released 6 weeks before and sell out very quickly, so for a June 1st visit they were released on April 20th. There are lots of options including guided tours on the Alhambra official website and bookings were through ticket master).

Recommended reading ‘The Alhambra’ by Robert Irwin – very readable book explaining the history of the Alhambra.

40 thoughts on “The Gardens of the Alhambra and Generalife, Granada, Spain – Part two Partal and Generalife

  1. What a lovely garden. I pinned it onto my list of Gardens I want to see and touch : ) Thank you for sharing!

    • I have one of those lists Laurin, its getting longer by the year, I can relate to see and touch too, I have looked at lots of photos of these gardens and felt very lucky to have finally visited.

  2. I am dying to see this garden – I would so love to visit when the orange or pomegranate trees are blooming. I love the use of water, the architecture and history here … some day we will get there.

    • I loved the history side – really fascinating, so many changes over the centuries. On the Alhambra web site there is a detailed list called ‘plant of the month’ which would give you a good idea of what is in flower when. Coming from the UK, the Orange trees were especially wonderful to see.

    • I wish we had made more time to sit down and let the world go by as we came back feeling quite tired and in need of another break! There was so much to see we packed a lot into each day, very glad we went of course.

    • There were lots and lots of Roses and Orange Trees, I am so used to the supermarket stuff that seeing oranges on beautiful trees was quite thrilling. Frances from Island Threads has been telling me of some beautiful walking places in the Sierra Nevada, we hope to go again and combine both.

  3. What a beautiful place to visit. I wonder, do they harvest the oranges/pomegranates or any other fruit that’s grown?

    I smiled when you talked about trying to find shade–I would imagine that Spain was a bit hot for you?

    • Folk from the UK do not cope well with any extreme of temperature! We grind to a halt with a little snow and train tracks and roads melt if the thermometer hits 30 (86f). I read on the Alhambra site that the Pomegranates in the Partal gardens were the pleniflora cultivar colourful flowers and no fruits. However the Oranges were so plentiful in Granada, we had juice every day at breakfast that was so delicious and fresh. As we flew in there were field upon field of Olive trees and we visited a market where there were lots of local lemons.

  4. Another lovely post – I’m so enjoying this virtual tour! My husband worked in Cadiz over the winter and I think I had phantasies that I might visit the Alhambra for the first time this spring/summer. I can still do it thanks to your posts … those cypresses spires around the Tower of the Princesses are amazing, glad they are looking into saving the plantings.

    • I found the continued development of the new gardens really interesting and loved the thought they too will be historic gardens in time. Hope you do get to visit Cathy.

  5. Hello Julie,
    A fantastic record of what look stunning and extensive gardens, and really impressive for you to get people free images of them. I really liked all the use of water, but also the loose new look garden design … a little reminiscent of some of the effects in parts of Monet’s garden, though more relaxed plant choices. I wonder having seen this garden if Veddw was inspired by this garden(?type) with the use of hedge enclosed spaces, and water, though I know that there are many British gardens which also use such devices.
    Best wishes

    • I felt lots of people must be inspired by a visit here. I did not show the wonderful historic paths of cobbles laid in beautiful shapes, I had seen that before on show gardens and finally when we saw it here, I knew what had inspired people to do the same. No need to go Chelsea again, just come here!

    • I struggled with putting the Alhambra into context as its so much more than the original buildings and gardens and there has been many changes. Irvin’s book was very helpful. The new gardens are evolving, I wasn’t able to find a guide book specifically on this area to research before we visited but found the audio guides most useful when we were there.

  6. the gardens are lovely Julie, my reasons for choosing to visit Spain in spring and autumn were because I knew I’d never cope with summer temperatures, you are brave, beautiful photos, I didn’t remember just how old some of the Cypress trees are, thank you, I feel something spiritual when touching or being near something so old, especially trees,
    the first time I saw oranges on trees was in Ronda, we were told the oranges on trees in the streets, even in Seville, are unpalatable, they taste horrid, this is intentional as other wise people would be stripping the trees and the planners want them there for ornament, makes sense,
    enjoy planning your next visit but if you are going to walk I suggest another time of year, when it is a little cooler, spring is nice with the spring flowers, Frances

    • I can really relate to your spiritual feeling, I like the connectedness (is that a word) of laying a hand on an old tree. And so thats why the oranges were still on the trees, that does make sense, we had wondered! I will take your advice too, our next visit will be in Spring. Thanks again Frances for your suggestions.

  7. Such a beautiful garden – I really love the cypress trees, water features and the formal box parterres – it is so indicative of this style of garden, and then when you add some beautiful citrus into the mix – then these walled gardens are very close to paradise

    • I loved all of those things too Matt, I have pared it down for my posts, there is so much to see but the Orange Trees were particularly wonderful. Frances from Island Threads tell me the oranges are seville and bitter to stop folk helping themselves!

    • Me too Maureen, I am told those oranges were deliberately grown as Seville and bitter to stop folk helping themselves! But any tree being fruit in a garden is a really wonderful sight. 🙂

  8. Thank you for the two posts, descriptions and photos of these gardens. I didn’t know anything about them until reading your blog, Julie. Isn’t it the beauty of the blogging world that we can share each others experiences like this.

  9. Pingback: The Gardens of the Alhambra and Generalife, Granada, Spain – Part one The Nasrid Palaces | Gardening Jules

  10. Pingback: Rousham – A Winter’s Visit | Gardening Jules

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