Granada’s Romantic Alhambra: The Generalife Gardens

After exploring the ornate elegance of the Nasrid Palaces, the walls of the old Alcazaba fort, and the modern Renaissance features of Charles V’s palace, make the short trek uphill to the sprawling Generalife Gardens- the sultan’s summer garden retreat and orchards. Planted over 600 years ago, the re-created “Arabian” Generalife garden is considered the closest thing on earth to the Quran’s description of heaven.

The one-way path first leads you past a sleek, outdoor theatre built in the 1950s which continues to serve as a concert venue for Granada, especially during the city’s International Festival of Music and Dance. Manicured hedges, ponds, and burbling fountains escort you the rest of the way until you come upon a small palace, the sultan’s cool, quiet summer escape.

After the crushing crowds of tour groups in Nasrid’s Palaces earlier in the day, it was nice to enjoy the early evening serenity (and people-free photo ops!) of the pleasantly empty Generalife Gardens. Not to mention the sweeping views of the rest of the Alhambra across the gorge and the whitewashed buildings of the winding, historic Albayzin Moorish quarter below.

Meandering through the calm, ornately decorated Generalife Gardens is a perfect way to end a visit to the Alhambra. Even better though? A refreshing pitcher of sangria at one of the outdoor cafes along the Paseo de los Tristes after making the downhill trek along the lavender-scented, cobble-stoned pathway of Cuesta de los Chinos below the sunset-glowing Alhambra ramparts.

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