Travel to Marrakech

Day 3 El Badi Palace and Saadian Tombs

Marrakech


 

El Badi Palace (meaning the incomparable palace) consists nowadays of the remnants of a palace built by the Saadian king Ahmad al-Mansur to celebrate the victory over the Portuguese army in battle in 1578 known as the Battle of the Three Kings. According to the chroniclers of the time was the wonder of the Muslim world.

Marrakech - El Badi Palace
Marrakech - El Badi Palace

The original building is thought to have consisted of 360 rooms, a courtyard of 135 m by 110 m planted with orange trees and a pool of 90 m by 20 m, richly decorated with Italian marbles and large amounts of gold imported from Sudan. It also has a small, underground, tunnel-like jail with about four cells where the king kept his prisoners.

Marrakech - El Badi Palace
Marrakech - El Badi Palace

The palace, which took approximately 25 years to construct (from 1578 until 1603), was torn apart by the Alaouite Sultan Moulay Ismail who used the materials to decorate his own palace in Meknes. The design of the palace is influenced by the Alhambra in Granada. In one of the refurbished pavilions, the Koutoubia minbar is now on exhibition.

Marrakech - El Badi Palace
Marrakech - El Badi Palace

Located near the Kasbah Mosque, the Saadian tombs date back from the time of the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603). The tombs were only recently discovered (in 1917) and were restored by the Beaux-arts service. The tombs have, because of the beauty of their decoration, been a major attraction for visitors of Marrakech.

Marrakech - Saadian tombs
Marrakech - Saadian tombs

Unlike the El Badi Palace, the Alawite Sultan Moulay Ismail decided not to destroy the previous dynasty tombs for fear of committing sacrilege and ordered to close the garden-cemetery with a large wall. Currently this walled garden is accessed through a of a small hallway. The mausoleum comprises the corpses of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty that originated in the valley of the Draa River.

Marrakech - Saadian tombs
Marrakech - Saadian tombs

Among the graves are those of Ahmad al-Mansur and his family. The building is composed of three rooms. The most famous is the room with the twelve columns. This room contains the grave of the son of the sultan´s son Ahmad al-Mansur. The stele is in finely worked cedar wood and stucco work. The monuments are made of Italian Carrara marble. The walls were covered with glazed tiles up to two meters above ground and were used Koranic phrases for finishing the friezes.

Marrakech - Saadian tombs
Marrakech - Saadian tombs

The second room only stores Alawites tombs and houses the mihrab. The third room, called Hall of the three niches, is also richly decorated with mosaics and stucco and keeps Saadian tombs of princes who died young and the wives and concubines of the princes. Outside the building is a garden and the graves of soldiers and servants.


 

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