The real problem in Granada is that having a palace like the Alhambra, makes people pay little attention to the rest. If the Generalife could talk, it would complain about it, even though it is practically stuck to the famous Red Castle.
The reason for its name is still under discussion, and it will probably always be. It may have its origin from the name Yannat al-Arif, which would mean “architect’s garden” or perhaps “high paradise garden”. In any case, a garden.
As it happens, the Generalife is a villa flooded with gardens at the side of Cerro del Sol, where the Nasrid sultans lived the good life among ponds, flowers, orchards and birds. It seems that after the Christian conquest the place lost some of its brightness, but it remained so beautiful and evocative that the romantic traveller of the nineteenth century would come here to sigh deeply.
Some of them, like Victor Hugo y Chateaubriand, firmly believed the story of the Patio de los Cipreses, which along with the Acequia are the most emblematic sites of the town. We will tell you why:
In the fifteenth century, everywhere, men were looking for trouble. Granada was no exception, and here there was deep hate between members of two clans: the Zegries and the Abencerrajes. It turns out that one of the latter fell in love with Morayma, the wife of King Boabdil, and decided to put his life online seducing her and meeting her under a large cypress tree in the courtyard. Maybe they just held hands, or perhaps the thing got out of hand, but Boabdil took it very badly… so bad that he ended up slaughtering his wife, his wife’s lover and twenty-nine other Abencerrajes in the room of the Alhambra that bears that name.
That’s what the legend says, and that’s what the nineteenth-century romantics believed, and they began to take fragments of the old tree as a souvenir. It is known as the Sultana’s Cypress, and the poor tree, today presents a considerable hole thanks to it.
According to history, Morayma died of natural causes in 1493, in Laujar de Andarax. By then, Boabdil had already given Granada to the Catholic Monarchs, so it seems he did not touch his wife. Undoubtedly not because of lack of desire but for lack of time.
It is your decision to believe the version of the legend or the historical one since either of them is a hundred per cent clear.
While you do, in the middle of this beautiful gardens, you can stop for a while to reflect on the stories, legends, the cypresses around here and the bad habit of some tourists of taking pieces of its trunks to take home as souvenirs. Better and less destructive is to take a picture, isn’t it?