Generalife: Patio de la Sultana – Cypress Tree of the Abencerrajes’ Legend

Cypress tree of the Abencerrajes' legend in the Patio de la Sultana of the Generalife Palace in Granada, Spain

Cypress tree of the Abencerrajes’ legend in the Patio de la Sultana

Cypress tree of the Abencerrajes’ Legend
The dried-up trunk of a cypress tree is in the eastern part of the Patio de la Sultana (Sultana’s Courtyard), a beautiful courtyard with a pond.

Experts believe that the cypress tree was planted during the Nasrid period and lived for 600 years. The Spanish text on the plaque next to the tree trunk refers to a story central to the Legend of the Abencerrajes. Here is what the plaque says: “Legend has it that this Cypress Tree of the Sultana was a witness to the love affair of an Abencerraje knight and Boabdil’s wife.”

According to the legend, Morayma (Maryam bint Ibrahim al-’Attarthe), the wife of Muhammad XII (known as Boabdil, the last Sultan of Granada), had an affair with a knight belonging to the Abencerrajes, a warrior clan fiercely loyal to the Nasrids. The lovers used to meet underneath the shade of this cypress tree in the moonlight.

A courtier eventually discovered their secret and revealed it to the Nasrids. Enraged by the affair, Boabdil ordered the killing of the members of the Abencerrajes clan. He invited them for a meeting at his palace. The unsuspecting members accepted the invitation and gathered in a hall. While they were waiting for the king, his guards closed the doors of the hall and assassinated as many as 30 of them.

Although there is no historical or archaeological evidence to prove that this event ever took place, the fascinating story of romance and the palace intrigue has caught the imagination of people and helped to keep the mystique of the Alhambra alive.

The hall where the alleged killings took place became known as Sala de los Abencerrajes (Hall of the Abencerrajes), which is a part of the Palace of Lions in the Nasrid Palaces located in the Alhambra.

Related Images
Patio de la Sultana – A view of the Sultana’s Court from the south side
Pond with a fountain located in the middle of the Patio de la Sultana
Plaque describing the Abencerrajes’ Legend in the Patio de la Sultana
Sala de los Abencerrajes (Hall of the Abencerrajes) – A hall belonging to the Nasrid Palaces in the Alhambra
Palacio de los Abencerrajes – Abencerrajes Palace in the Medina

Related Pages
Generalife – Heavenly Gardens of the Nasrids
Palacios Nazaríes – Nasrid Palaces – A Shining Example of Moorish Art and Architecture
Los Jardines del Partal – The Gardens of the Partal
Alcazaba – A Formidable Fortress of the Nasrids
Medina, the Bustling City
Alhambra – Christian-Era Monuments
Alhambra – Outer Monuments

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