The Generalife is an attraction that tourists won't want to miss while spending time in Granada. Originally built in the thirteenth century by the Nasrid emirs (Muslim royalty of Granada), this palace retreat offers plenty for visitors to admire. The main highlights are the magnificent courtyards and beautiful gardens. The views also deserve special mention—the Generalife Palace overlooks the nearby Alhambra from its position on the Cerro del Sol (Hill of the Sun).
The Palacio de Generalife, as it is known in Spanish, was once a rural villa, and the surrounding grounds originally featured pastures and orchards. As is true with so many historic compounds, it has been redecorated and altered over the years. Many of the alterations were made in an attempt to salvage deteriorating sections, and they were mainly carried out after Christian Spain conquered Granada.
Originally, the retreat that was the original Generalife was intended to be a place where the city's sultans could truly escape from all things relating to the "real world." This included the opulence of the spectacular Alhambra. One of the most interesting things that Generalife visitors might take note of is the general lack of opulence when it comes to the palace itself.
Generalife tours can easily be combined with tours of the nearby Alhambra, especially since it is possible to purchase a ticket that allows for admission to both. Most Generalife tours understandably revolve around the palace's courtyards and gardens. Among the lovely courtyards is the Patio de Polo, which formerly served as a welcoming point for guests arriving on horseback. As for the Generalife gardens, they are the absolute main highlight, with the "Escalera del Agua" being one of the most notable features. This "Water Staircase" has water tricking down the tops of its side walls, which reflects the fondness that the former Arab rulers of Spain had for water features in general.