When you think of Spain, some of the images that come to mind are the Spanish Colonial architecture with the classic white stucco walls and small courtyards set against lovely palettes of earthy colors. That is indeed a common theme that you can often witness due to the Colonial Revival of the 1900s.
However, Spain has some rather interesting styles in its history, and one unique example can be found close to the 14th-century Alhambra Palace in Granada. The gardens here are a striking example of the traditional Islamic style, mostly comprising rectangular beds of flowers and plants arranged in geometric patterns.
It’s a fascinating garden with an interesting history, so sit down with some freshly brewed tea, and let’s learn all about it.
A Tale As Old As Time
Gardens have always been a respite for the nobility and the ruling class. They allowed people to relax and socialize with trusted loved ones after dealing with the stress of their royal responsibilities.
The Gardens by the Alhambra Palace are no different. They acted as a sort of oasis to deal with the hot Spanish summers and were frequented by the elites of the Nasrid dynasty.
They may not have been aware of it, but these last Muslim rulers of the Iberian peninsula managed to create what is now one of the most iconic attractions in all of southern Spain.
Built with strikingly beautiful fountains, waterways, and enchanting greenery, the Generalife Gardens should be on the bucket list of anyone visiting this part of Spain. Of course, the name “Generalife” is the Hispanicized version of the original Arabic “Jannat al-‘Arīf,” which translates to “Garden of the Architect.”
A Stunning Variety of Flowers
The number of diverse species of flora that can be found in the Generalife Garden is breathtaking. You can find the lovely Blue Throatwort here, a flowering plant that is an eye-catching, umbrella-shaped species that typically grows among rocky areas and around cliffs. Though having the color “blue” in its name, this flower has a more lavender hue.
You can also find Bride’s crown (also known as Spiraea), which is a common species found in many gardens around Granada. You can also find it in great numbers at the Generalife garden during the month of April, which is the time that it usually blooms a lot.
Other beautiful varieties found here include Scarlet Sage, Cockscomb, and Wisteria.
If you are particularly taken with some of these flowers, you can grow them at home, provided you can give them the right environment. Blue Throatwort, for example, can be grown in a sturdy planter that is suitably big enough for its 0.5 – 1.0 meter height and its approximate spread of 0.1 – 0.5 meters.
Crescent Garden is one brand that offers a variety of planters that, in all seriousness, possibly rivals the number of plant species that can be found at Generalife. Their offerings are suitable for those looking to decorate their homes with minimalistic and elegant-looking planters.
Started in 1999 by Paula Douer and Harry Tchira, Crescent Gardens has been operating for over two decades now and has secured a spot for itself as a place for all your upscale planter requirements.
Information for Tourists and Visitors
The south of Spain can be hot and sunny, with temperatures easily reaching above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) in the summer. Thus, you want to ensure that you pack enough sunscreen, appropriate clothes, and a pair of sunglasses to protect yourself.
You also want to be prepared for a bit of a walk. Some areas leading up to the gardens can be at an incline, which might be a little tough in case you are bringing along elderly friends or family members.
The Generalife Garden is a popular attraction, meaning you ought to be prepared for a crowd. Try to arrive in advance of your planned itinerary, as entry to the garden requires a ticket to be purchased.
You might also benefit from hiring a tour guide who can provide context and background for the different areas that you explore.
For instance, one particular area of the Garden, the Jardin de la Sultana, is said to be a spot where the wife of Bombadil, the last ruler of Nasrid, had an affair with a Knight of the Abencerrajes family. (How scandalous!)
There are tons of such small interesting pieces of history that you might miss without a proper guide.
Of course, you can also do a good bit of research yourself before arriving, but that sort of takes the fun out of experiencing the Garden “in the moment!”