Gardens Of the Architect

“THE greatest piece of gardening in the world is a little staircase in the Generalife,” Russell Page

The gardens of the Generalife Spain in Arabic are ‘Jinnah al-Arif’ which means ‘Gardens of the Architect’. The gardens are situated on a high area above the main Palaces of the Alhambra in Granada. The gardens and the Alhambra Palaces have been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1984. Generalife’s stunning gardens were built in the 14th century during the reign of Muhammad III as a royal summer retreat.When we visited the Generalife Gardens they were called by our guide simply         ‘The Summer House’

Walking from the Alhambra Palaces towards the Summer House the Medieval Moorish formal style of the Palaces give way to a small botanical European style garden.   The view ahead is breathtaking and marked by a massive stone wall high on the hill fringed by cypress trees.

As you walk up the hill the stone wall aids in just giving you a hint in your vision of what is ahead. Through the gate you are suddenly in a beautiful European garden that is absolutely stunning. Water features, divine deep green hedges, nooks and crannies of massive walls of green and exciting views with masses of huge roses.

Continuing up the steps there is a space that is full of enchanting elements straight from a storybook. The handrails become a space for water channels that were constructed by the Sultan to allow ablution rituals before prayers. At the top of the hill is a romantic Neo Gothic style lookout with gorgeous views of the estate and surrounding gardens and hills.

The garden is filled with fountains, courtyards and ancient irrigation channels with masses of fragrant roses and other flowers reminiscent of the old tales of Arabian Nights from childhood stories.

Cypress pines hugging at the end of the beautiful water channel lined with roses.

The garden takes your breath away with delightful niches, viewpoints and secluded spots to sit and enjoy.

“That’s all there is, just the sound of the water, this very simple staircase, and the dappled light coming through the green bay trees, and it’s the best thing in gardening that I know anywhere in the world.” Russell Page

Travels abroad become more vivid as you reflect on experiences once home and you wish you just go back and see again the uniqueness of a place. The Summer House is one such place. Fortunately I was able to visit for several hours but it was far too brief and The Summer House Garden and Alhambra Palaces demand extensive time to fully appreciate the magnitude of the beauty and uniqueness of the history.

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