Generalife World Heritage Site: A Thousand and One Year Old Garden

by | Mar 16, 2016 | Alhambra Palace Generalife Gardens, Europe, Spain | 0 comments

After a busy few hours in the Alhambra Palaces, we were delighted with the tranquility of the magnificent gardens of Generalife. This stunning World Heritage Site is one of the last great surviving gardens from the Islamic era. Its roots are over 1000 years old! It was planted to feed the body and the soul with food, pleasure and contemplation. It is paradise on earth. Water is the fundamental unifying theme of this resplendent royal Islamic garden. Stunning flower beds are framed by still pools, dancing fountains and a water staircase. A 700 year old hydraulic system transports water through channels, pools and fountains. This  was an opulent display of technology, prosperity and luxury. The Moors capitalized on innovations in irrigation to revolutionize garden landscapes. I love gardens and I especially love water gardens.

A water garden was a symbol of economic, social and political power.

This marble basin sits at the intersection of four rectangular pools, representing the four rivers in paradise, filled with milk, honey, wine and water.
The views at either end of this long fountain are wonderful, but I wanted to capture the bougainvillea, one of my favourite flowering vines.
Gardens are transitory. Soil samples helped today’s gardeners determine what plants might have been grown in Generalife when it was created by the Moors. One area that has not changed since their time is the Water Staircase. The banisters are water conduits that take water from high in the Sierra Nevada mountains to the deep reservoirs in Generalife and into the Alhambra Palaces. I did not know this at the time of our visit. If I had, I would have stopped to take better pictures. This is the only one I took.

The gardens sit higher than the Alhambra, affording excellent views of the palaces and the city of Granada below.

Around the World in 80 Gardens

If you would like to know about the gardens of Alhambra, there is a wonderful BBC television series, Around the World in 80 Gardens

After four hours, we were ready for a cold drink and fresh tapas. We used every minute of our allotted time and still did not see everything. The spaces are vast and we did a lot of walking. We would have loved to have stopped for a break between our visit to the Palaces and Generalife, but we did not have any time to spare. We saw only one public bathroom, with a long lineup, so nature dictated that it was time to leave. We were lucky that we had ideal weather conditions for our visit. I talked to someone who had visited Alhambra in July when it was 40 degrees C (over 100 Fahrenheit). We would not have lasted four hours in that heat.
Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray

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