There is a secret oasis, just across the road from the mighty Alhambra. The Carmen de los Mártires gardens.
Carmen de los Mártires has been home to dungeons, a place of torture, a place of worship, and a palace, depending on which century you look at. But don’t let the doom and gloom fool you, the gardens are stunning and give away nothing of their darker past.
The Carmen sits atop of the mighty Sabika Hill, a beautifully paved and decorated, yet somewhat challenging walk just off of Plaza Nueva.
Niall always expresses his desire to dip his face into the fountains on the way up this hill. You will understand why once you walk it yourself (You can take a look at all the best ways to reach the top of Sabika hill in our Alhambra post)
5 Things not to miss in the Carmen de los Mártires gardens
The French Gardens are full of magnolias and urns. Neptune occupies the centre of the pond and he is surrounded by statues featuring depictions of the elements and other mythological gods.
#2 Palm Trees
The Garden of Palms, was originally known as the English Garden due to its windy little paths through small flower beds and shrubs, which contrasts with the traditional large landscaped gardens of Spain. They are now full of palm trees, it’s a lovely, cool place to sit away from the heat.
#3 Giant Squirrels!
The forest-labyrinth Gardens are home to red squirrels, horse chestnut trees, and banana trees. The red squirrels here are the biggest I have ever seen! Though that’s probably due to the amount of horse chestnuts and bananas they squirrel away...I would love to share a picture of them with you but sadly my phone recently gained a mind of its own and took a dive into some water.
#4 An Ancient Aqueduct
The landscape gardens with their lake and San Juan aqueduct have been part of the Carmen since the 16th century. This was our favourite bit about the gardens (apart from the squirrels!) A mock medieval ruin sits in the centre of the lake.
From the tower you have a fantastic alternative view out over Granada from a new angle.
The lake is allegedly home to elusive black swans, but if you aren’t lucky enough to spot them you will find plenty of ducks who are friendly and full of character (we named the one on the island Doug, he was the best).
The Nasrid courtyard strikes a very similar tone of architecture to parts of the beautiful Alhambra Palaces. With this in mind it will come as no surprise that it is home to a very particular type of royalty. Royal Turkeys! The direct translation of the Spanish word for peacock means royal turkey. We think this name is absolutely brilliant (although I’m not sure I would fancy one for Christmas dinner), and the peacocks really do swagger about regally, as if the Carmen was built for them alone.
It is free to enter the gardens, but make sure you take note of the changing opening times.
Click here for their main site (don’t worry it uses Google Translate)
Were it not for the incredible Alhambra Palaces just next door we’re sure this place would be far higher on everyone’s must see list. But it’s hidden gems like these which make Granada so special.