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Night visit to Gardens and Generalife

01 – Generalife

The provenance of the term Generalife has long been disputed. Some say it derives from “Jardin” (Garden), or “Huerta del Zambrero” (Zambrero’s Vegetable Garden); also “el más elevado de los jardines” (the highest garden); “casa de artificio y recreo” (house of guile and recreation); “Mansión de placer o recreación grande” (Mansion of pleasure and great recreation); and “Jardín del citarista” (Zither player’s Garden); the most commonly accepted being “Jardin or Jardines del Alarife”, in other words, “The builder or architect’s Garden.”

The visit to this sector starts at the New Gardens of the Generalife.

The Generalife and the Alhambra were connected through gardens that successfully integrated the buildings with nature.

The zone was simultaneously divided into the three parts that constitute the New Garden (Jardines Nuevos) today. In 1931 a section resembling a labyrinth garden, with arched rose gardens and cypress trees, was finished near the building; in 1951 the section was extended in accordance with the architect Prieto Moreno’s design for a Muslim-style garden, with an irrigation channel crossing, streets, cypress lined walls, a pergola and a view of both the Alhambra and the city.

Finally, in 1952, the outdoor amphitheatre was built for the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance, which as been held there ever since.

The theatre and the adjacent gardens pertain to the same project and building operation. The retaining walls are perceived as a further fragment of the whole and the different parades and flowerbeds serve as support for vegetable accompaniment, of great importance in the installation. The stage is configured with natural screens of cypresses, offering a permanent and characteristic background, unique in the contemporary scenery.

The Generalife was built between the 12th and 14th Century. The palace was used by the Muslim royalty as a place of rest. It was designed as a rural villa in the vicinity of the Alhambra, with decorative garden, fruit and vegetable patches, courts and other structures.

The Royal Canal (Acequia Real), the principal hydraulic source for the entire historical-artistic monument complex. The court channel was originally in the shape of a crossing, like the one in the Court of the Lions (Patio de los Leones), supplying water to four oblique parterres.

The entrance to the Generalife is interesting for two reasons. On the one hand, its exterior part is rural, befitting a country house more than a palace, following the description of the hispanic-muslim almunia in Ibn Luyun’s Agriculture Treaty. On the other hand, various courts had to be traversed at different levels in order to reach the interior of the Alhambra palace itself.

The first court, denominated Court of the Dismount, presents two side buildings which were probably used by stable hands.

The second court, which underwent changes, is located at the top and surrounded by arched galleries, except for in the front, where access to the interior of the palace is gained.

02 – Palace of the Generalife

Entrance to the palace itself is through a tiny door, today partially hidden by undergrowth and embedded in traces of marble, with a tiled lintel and the ever present arch-key marking. From there, a steep narrow stairway leads to a residence, connected to the Court of the Main Canal (Patio de la Acequia), called the North Pavilion (Pabellón Norte), which in turn leads to an arcaded gallery, with five arches and bedchambers, and on to the Royal Chamber (Sala Regia) and the observation point of Ismail I.

The Royal Chamber (Sala Regia) is noted for its plasterwork, niches and lovely stalactite capitals. The often repeated interior layout includes bedchambers framed by arches. Of particular note is the stalactite outset cornice supporting the ceiling.

Crossing the side bedroom of the Royal Chamber (Sala Regia) you ascend to an open corridor called the Court of the Sultana’s Cypress Tree (Patio del Ciprés de la Sultana).

The arcaded structure dates back to 1584. In front of it is an intimate court and a garden with a baroque flare to it.

The arcaded structure dates back to 1584. In front of it is an intimate court and a garden with a baroque flare to it. The area was originally the site of the now disappeared Palace Bath. Water from the irrigation canal, which at one time probably filled it while flowing to the adjacent courtyard, can still be seen pouring through a gap in the side wall.

In the centre is a U-shaped pool of water, in the middle of which in the 19th century there used to be a smaller pool, with a stone fountain.

To reach the highest part of the Generalife you take the Water Stairway (Escalera del Agua), leftover—if substantially altered—from an earlier site, famous for its water, which flowed from the Sultan’s Canal through pipes in the walls.

Water once flowed into three circular basins from as many pipes, now lost; however, water from the Royal Canal (Acequia Real) continues to flow down inverted pan tiles along the stairway parapets.

At the end of the Water Stairway is the highest point in the Generalife. From this vantage point Jaime Traverso, the admistrator of the site, built in 1836 the Romantic Observation Point in neo-Gothic style, which was the fashion at the time, and noticeably contrasted with the rest of the site.(This space opens once a year during a month, withing the programme “space of the month”.)

The visit continues through the Promenade of the Oleanders, a long path that crosses the upper wall that separates the vegetable gardens, covered with oleander.

This promenade was built in the middle of the XIX century as a romantic access to the Palace of the Generalife.

Approximate time of the visit 1 hour

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The visit includes:

01 – Gardens of the Generalife

02 – Palace of the Generalife

(*) MINORS MUST HAVE THEIR CORRESPONDING TICKETS TO ACCESS THE SPACES.
If you are going to make your visit with children under 12 years of age, you should know that they need their corresponding free child ticket, which CANNOT BE PROVIDED at the ticket office, except for babies under 2 years of age.
As established in Art. 2.3 “Cases out of capacity control” of the Resolution of September 26th, 2016, of the Board of the Alhambra and Generalife, about the rules of visit, commercialization and other public uses of the Monumental Complex of the Alhambra and Generalife and their assigned assets.

This channel is for private tourism and therefore is directed exclusively for the sale of tickets to individuals, in accordance with section 4.3 B) of the Resolution of September 26th, 2016, of the Board of the Alhambra and Generalife, for which the rules of visit, commercialization and other public uses of the Monumental Complex of the Alhambra and the Generalife and its attached assets are.
The Board of the Alhambra and Generalife reserves the right to VOID those tickets that have been acquired for a purpose other than the channel for which they are intended.

  • Booking and purchase of tickets are done online in the system of management and sales of tickets of the Council of the Alhambra, by telephone or on TVRs.
  • These tickets can be purchased through “print at home”, on the TVRs or at ticket offices. This last procedure can cause an unnecessary wait.
  • If your ticket have been purchased through “print at home” you should consider:
    • That all visitors must carry their ticket, printed on A4 paper, obverse and reverse and keep it until the end of the visit.
    • Print must be of good quality. Partially printed, stained, damaged or illegible tickets will not be accepted.
      IF NOT, IT WILL BE CONSIDERED NULL.
    • The print must be of good quality. Partially printed, stained, damaged or illegible tickets will not be accepted.
  • Each visitor independent of his age, must carry his own ticket, which may be issued individually and he is obliged to keep it until the exit of the monument visited, he must present it, with a personal identification document issued by the Ministry of the Interior or homologous organization of his country, at the request of any employee, either his own personnel or the security services, as well as the State Security Forces and Bodies, in this case.
    • If the holder of the ticket is different from the person who is to carry out the visit, it must include the name and surname of the visitor in the “ticket” before printing.

IN THE EVENT OF NOT OBSERVING SOME OF THE RULES SPECIFIED ABOVE THE TICKET WILL BE CONSIDERED NULL.

  • Please note that this ticket is valid for the same day of the visit to the Alhambra.
  • Children under 12 have free admission but it must be reserved at the time of purchase and managed with the rest of the adult tickets.

The Council of the Alhambra and Generalife will limit to ten the number of tickets that a private individual can acquire in a month, in order to make a better distribution of unorganized individual tourism tickets.

Did you know?

The Night Visit to Generalife, don’t allow access to the Nasrid Palaces since there is a specific nocturnal visit to get to know this illuminated area and it has the same visit hours.

All the temporary exhibitions, that the Council of the Alhambra and the Generalife organize inside the monumental enclosure, are free.

  • Visit hours 
    • 1 April – 31 May
      22.00 h. – 23.30 h. Tuesdays to Saturdays
    • 1 September – 14 October
      22.00 h. -23.30 h. Tuesdays to Saturdays
    • 15 October – 14 November
      20.00 h – 21.30 Fridays and Saturdays
    • With the exception of the 25 of December and 1 of January
  • Opening hours for ticket office 
    • 1 April – 31 March
      21.00h. – 22.45 h. Tuesdays to Saturdays
    • 1 September – 14 October
      21.00 h. – 22.45 h. Tuesdays to Saturdays
    • 15 October – 14 November
      19.00 – 20.45 h. Fridays and Saturdays
    • This type of visit is not available from 15 November to 31 March
    • With the exception of the 25 of December and 1 of January

Discounts (*)
The following groups are entitled to a reduction in the ticket price:

  • European Youth Card holders

Gratuity (*)

  • • Children under 12
    • ICOMOS members
    • ICOM members

(*) The beneficiaries of gratuitousness or reduction in the price of the ticket must present at the box office the official, valid and updated proofs of belonging to the collective object of gratuity or reduction (retirees, holders of the young card, people with disabilities …) on the days of the collection of the ticket and the day of the visit.
Otherwise, you must pay the full price corresponding to your ticket type