Of all the treasures that the Alhambra complex holds within its vast stone and green boarders, the Generalife gardens are without a doubt my favourite gem. Set apart, across a ravine which was once linked via a covered walkway to the Nasrid palace, the Generalife was once the summer palace of the Nasrid Emirs of the Emirate of Granada. Today it is preserved as a garden paradise which seems a world apart from the ancient and modern sprawling city which spreads out across the Andalucian planes all around it.
With a multiply arched white palace at its heart, the likes of which appears to have informed all of the most typical Andalucian buildings which have developed in its likeness, as well as a long narrow pool over which arched fountains meet like lovers reaching across a mountain spring, the gardens of the Generalife are the most romantic place of natural contemplation imaginable.
Strolling between trimmed boxed hedges and flowerbeds abundant with fragrant roses and vivid bourganvilla, a walk around the Generalife is like being lost in the gardens of the Queen of Hearts in Alice’s wonderland. There, the many examples of arabic craftsmanship carved deep into the palace walls are overshadowed by the work of tended nature manifest in the multiply-layered gardens. And even on the hottest of days, there is a cool calm which reflects off the surface of mountain-fed water springs which make a visit to the gardens the most pleasant of contemplative activities.
This was my second visit to the Generalife palace and gardens, and the place is as much of a paradise as I remember. Perambulating through the verdant passages during a late afternoon, when the sun over the Albayzín was turning a caramelised yellow, proved to be the most perfect time to enjoy this reflective space. Not even my photos are able to capture the utmost tranquility of those all too brief moments in paradise. But they surely go someway in reflecting the mood of soulful restfulness which the atmosphere of the Generalife creates.
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