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Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba

Gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba

With the garden ticket you can visit all areas of the Monumental Complex open to the public, except the Nasrid Palaces.

The Nasrid Alhambra was a courtly city, conceived and built to serve the royal court. The urban layout was clearly organized during the two and a half centuries of its development, with the logical transformations brought about by the successive architectural styles.

It includes:

  • Promenade of the Cypress Trees, Secano (“Dryland”), Gardens of the Monastery of San Francisco.
  • Alcazaba: Garden of the Adarves.
  • Partal: Gallery, gardens and paths of the Palace, Rauda, Palace of Jusuf III, Promenade of the Towers
  • Palacio del Generalife: Lower Gardens and High Gardens (The Court of the Main Canal, The Sultana’s Court and Water Stairway)

The visit includes:

01 – Promenade of the Cypress Trees, Secano (“Dryland”), Gardens of the Monastery of San Francisco.

Access to the Alhambra is through the medina artisanal industry quarter, traditionally known as Secano or Dryland. The trajectory includes an archaeological tour of the Royal Canal’s start at the Aqueduct, the remains of shops with kilns, tanneries, and houses, as well as the inner wall, with its turrets that were partially destroyed when Napoleon’s troops abandoned the premises in 1812.

On this archaeological tour of the Upper Alhambra the visitor will see from outside the wall one of four gates, the main one, known as the Gate of the Seven Floors.

The Upper Alhambra offers a panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada mountain range towering above it, and the Cerro del Sol mountain, a natural rearguard defence fortress.

A stroll through this area will take the visitor past a wood of cypress trees trimmed in the 1930s in the shape of arches, and gardens nearby from the same era.

Among the cypress tree arches, on the right is a partial view of the Monastery of San Francisco, built in the 16th century over a small Muslim palace, which today is a Parador Nacional, or state-owned hotel.

A bit lower, on the left, are the remains of various Nasrid houses, which were discovered in the 1930s by the architect Leopoldo Torres Balbás.

02 – Alcazaba – La Qasba –

Its location, in the highest part of the hill, makes it a privileged place for observation and surveillance of the city, the vega and their access.
From the 13th century onwards, the Nasrid people gave the Alcazaba its present appearance, adding great towers: the Tower of the Candle (Torre de la Vela) in the west and the Tower of Homage (Torre del Homenaje), the Broken Tower (Torre Quebrada) and Adarguero in the east. It is accessed from the Gate of Arms.
It is one of the oldest parts of the Alhambra; in this military area you can visit the following spaces: the Terrace of the Tower of the Cube, the Adarve of the North Wall, the Military District, the Gate of the Arms, The Tower of the Candle (Torre de la Vela) and the Garden of the Adarves.

03 – Partal

After walking up a narrow landscaped path with a view of Sacromonte, on our left appear the north wall of the Alhambra and the remains of walls and some pavement that mark the location of what is currently called the Court of the Fig Tree.

A small pergola leads to a wide esplanade corresponding to the lower terrace of the Partal. To the left is the architectural structure for which the location is named: the Partal Palace portico.As is customary in these buildings, it is situated, like the Palace of Comares, on the premises wall. The portico, with its five arches, overlooks a large pool in the centre of the garden. Behind the portico is the main room, located inside the tower known as Las Damas.

One of the reasons why the Palace of the Partal stands out from its neighbouring Comares and the Lions, which have maintained their overall structure since the days of the Nasrid, is that the Partal was only included in the Alhambra a little more than a century ago.

Coming away from the lovely intricacy of the Partal Gardens, the narrow way that connects the two palaces of the Alhambra leads to a snug platform with a handrail extending along the foot of the wall that encloses the Palace of Yusuf III (1408-1417).

Outstanding is the long pool in the central courtyard with a lush garden, on the sides of which are the ruins of some rooms marking the site of a large building, structurally resembling the Palace of Comares .

04 – Generalife

It includes the Lower Gardens, the Palace of the Generalife and the High Gardens.

Outside the walls of the Alhambra, to the east, on the slope of Cerro del Sol, is the Generalife, a recreational estate of the Nasrid sultans, also used for agricultural exploitation, with a residential building core and a vast extension of cultivated land and grass, compartmentalized in parades or terraces through four large orchards, taking advantage of their orographic profiles.

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.”

After the conquest in 1492, the Catholic Monarchs assigned a keeper to watch over the area and make improvements. In 1631 the keeper’s charge was given to the Granada-Venegas family, until 1921, when the state, after a long drawn out legal battle, was finally awarded custody of the premises.

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.

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.  Following the Promenade of the Oleander, the Promenade of the Cypress Trees, built at the beginning of the XX century, takes the visitor to the place of exit.

Approximate time of the visit 2 hours

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The visit includes:

01 – Promenade of the Cypress Trees, Secano (“Dryland”), Gardens of the Monastery of San Francisco

02 – Alcazaba

03 – Partal

04 – 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 office. This last procedure can cause an unnecessary wait.
  • If your ticket have been purchased through “print at home” you should consider:
    • All visitors must carry their ticket, printed on A4 paper, obverse and reverse and keep it until the end of the visit.
    • The print must be of good quality. Partially printed, stained, damaged or illegible tickets will not be accepted.
      IF NOT, IT WILL BE CONSIDERED NULL
    • To check the good quality of the print, make sure the information written on the ticket, as well as the QR code are legible.
  • 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.

IMPORTANT: the date and the time of access to the Nasrid Palaces, is expressly written on the ticket. The visit to these spaces must be done within the specific time slot indicated on the admission ticket.

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?

With the ticket of gardens you can visit all the spaces of the Alhambra except the Nasrid Palaces.

In addition it will be possible to visit, the place that has been designated “space of the month”, only if it is placed in the itinerary of this type of ticket.

Access to the Palace of Carlos V, the Museum of the Alhambra and the Bath of the Mosque, is free.

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

  • Visiting hours
    • 15 October – 31 March
      Mondays to Sundays: 8.30 h. – 18.00 h
    • 1 April – 14 October
      Mondays to Sundays: 8.30 h. – 20.00 h.
    • With the exception of the 25 of December and 1 of January
  • Opening hours of the Ticket office
    • 15 October – 31 March:
      8.00 h. – 18.00 h.
    • 1 April – 14 October:
      8.00 h. – 20.00 h
    • Mondays to Sundays.
    • 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:

  • EU citizenship over 65
  • European Youth Card holders
  • People with a disability equal or greater than 33%

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.