Founded in 1755 by King Ferdinand IV, the Royal Botanic Gardens of Madrid is the first of its kind in Spain. The garden was designed as a place to study and understand plants just as much as admire them, and the garden is arranged in three distinct areas: medicinal, ornamental and aromatic varieties of plant. The herbarium, the oldest in Spain, contains around a million different herbs, with some dating back to the 18th century.
A superb example of the legacy of the Arab conquerors who lived in Spain for over six centuries in some places, the Generalife was the summer residence of the Nasrid rulers of the Emirate of Granada. The palace, along with its gardens, were designed in the 13th century and boast beautiful courtyards with impressive water features and a great respect for symmetry and geometric forms.
With a name meaning ‘park of the pleasant retreat’, it’s easy to see understand why this park is so beloved by Madrid’s residents. Owned by the royal family until the 19th century, the park was designed in the 17th century when it was conceived as a garden to the royal palace. Tree-lined avenues, water fountains and follies all add to the charm of this popular green space located not far from the famous Prado art museum.
The most famous park in Barcelona, the Park Güell was actually intended to be a luxury housing estate, but plans were abandoned and the park was opened to the public in 1926 – the year Antoni Gaudí, the park’s main architect, passed away. If the park is so popular today, it is undoubtedly because of Gaudí’s incredible designs, which include beautiful mosaic works and a marketplace held up with leaning columns and walkways which blend in with the surrounding palm trees.
The Palacio de Viana is a 14th-century palace located in the southern Spanish town of Córdoba. The palace, now open to the public as a museum, boasts some 12 beautiful outdoor patios designed in typical Córdoba style with shaded arched walkways and overflowing with colourful flowers and beautiful potted plants. Not your typical verdant park or garden, the patios are nonetheless remarkable for their floral displays and a good example of urban gardening.
Located not far from the sea or from the mountains, Málaga’s positioning and climate make it an ideal habitat for a number of interesting plant species. The Botanical Gardens of La Concepción are located in the eponymous La Concepción finca or country estate, which comprises 23 hectares (57 acres) of garden and is one of the finest tropical and subtropical gardens in Spain. It also contains one of the world’s most complete collections of palm trees, with over 90 different species on display.
Widely considered the most beautiful palace in Spain – and one of the finest in Europe – the Alcázar of Seville was the high palace of the Moorish rulers during much of their time in the Iberian peninsula. The palace gardens are, unsurprisingly, some of the most ornate in Spain and have the peculiarity of having been not only a place of leisure and contemplation, but also a functioning orchard providing food to the palace.