Bahia Palace Marrakech: A Must-See Attraction in Morocco



The Bahia Palace, located in Marrakech, Morocco, is a magnificent example of 19th-century Moroccan architecture. Spread over eight hectares, the palace boasts a series of luxury apartments, gardens, and courtyards, intricately decorated with beautiful mosaics, stucco work, woodwork, and painted ceilings. The palace was built for Si Moussa, grand vizier of the sultan, for his personal use and was later expanded by his son, Bou Ahmed, who added many stunning features, including a harem section.

Key Takeaways

  1. Architectural Grandeur: Bahia Palace boasts a unique blend of Andalusian and Moorish influences. From intricate stuccos and paintings to mesmerizing mosaics, each room showcases exceptional craftsmanship.
  2. Breathtaking Gardens: The palace’s gardens are as remarkable as the structure itself. A stroll through these lush spaces provides a peaceful counterpoint to the opulence inside.
  3. Cultural Insight: A visit to the Bahia Palace offers an opportunity to delve into Morocco’s rich history and cultural heritage.
  4. A Visual Feast: Regardless of your interests, the Bahia Palace’s visual appeal guarantees an unforgettable experience for all visitors.

Plan your visit today and let the Bahia Palace captivate your senses!


The Bahia Palace is a sprawling palace located in the heart of Marrakech, Morocco. It was built between 1866 and 1867 by Si Moussa, a powerful figure in Moroccan history. The palace is set over two acres in the middle of the Marrakech medina and features 150 rooms, including a harem section located just off the sun-filled Court of Honour.

Si Moussa and the Bahia Palace

Si Moussa was descended from a family of black slaves who served the Moroccan makhzen (royal government) and reached the highest offices in the country. He served as the Grand Vizier of Sultan Hassan I between 1859 and 1873. Si Moussa was a remarkable man, ascending to his lofty position from humble beginnings as a slave.

Si Moussa commissioned the Bahia Palace with the intention of building the greatest palace of its time. The palace was designed to showcase the finest examples of Moroccan craftsmanship, with intricate carvings, tilework, and painted ceilings. The palace was also designed to be a symbol of Si Moussa’s wealth and power.

French Protectorate and King Hassan II

In the late 19th century, Morocco was divided into French and Spanish protectorates. During this time, the Bahia Palace fell into disrepair. It was later restored by King Hassan II in the 1960s. Today, the palace is open to the public and is one of Marrakech’s most popular tourist attractions.

Architecture and Design

Bahia Palace is a masterpiece of Moroccan architecture and design, built in the latter part of the 19th century by the Grand Vizier Si Moussa. The palace features a harmonious blend of Andalusian and Moorish influences, with a focus on intricate details and geometric patterns. The palace is spread across 20 acres and features numerous courtyards and gardens, each with its unique design.

Courtyards and Gardens

One of the most striking features of Bahia Palace is its courtyards and gardens. The Grand Courtyard is the largest and most impressive, featuring a central fountain and surrounded by a gallery of columns and arches. The courtyard is decorated with intricate zellij mosaics, carved stucco, and painted wood ceilings. Other courtyards include the Courtyard of Honour, Courtyard of the Harem, and Courtyard of the Four Seasons, each with its unique design and features.

Marble, Stucco, and Mosaics

Bahia Palace is renowned for its intricate decoration, featuring a wide array of materials such as marble, stucco, and mosaics. The palace’s walls and floors are adorned with beautiful geometric patterns and designs, created using zellij mosaics. The palace’s interior walls are covered in carved stucco, featuring intricate floral and geometric motifs. The palace’s floors are made of marble, adding to the palace’s grandeur.

Woodwork and Arabesques

Bahia Palace is also famous for its exquisite woodwork and arabesques. The palace’s ceilings are made of cedar wood, intricately carved with floral and geometric patterns. The palace’s doors and windows are also adorned with carved wood, featuring intricate arabesques and designs. The palace’s wooden screens and shutters add to the palace’s elegance and beauty.

Harem and Concubines

The Bahia Palace in Marrakech was a symbol of the wealth and power of the Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed. The palace was built in the late 19th century and is known for its stunning architecture and intricate decoration. One of the most fascinating parts of the palace is the harem, where the Grand Vizier kept his wives and concubines.

The harem was a part of the palace that was reserved for women only. It consisted of several rooms and was designed to provide the women with privacy and comfort. The harem was also guarded by eunuchs who ensured that no man could enter without permission.

According to historical accounts, the Grand Vizier had four wives and 24 concubines. The rooms in the harem were assigned according to the women’s status and beauty, with the most ornately decorated reserved for the Grand Vizier’s favorites. The women who lived in the harem did not enjoy a high social status, and their lives were largely controlled by the Grand Vizier.

The harem was a place of luxury, but it was also a place of confinement. The women who lived there were cut off from the outside world and had little freedom. They were expected to serve the Grand Vizier and to bear him children. The harem was a symbol of the Grand Vizier’s wealth and power, but it was also a reminder of the inequalities and injustices of the time.

Palace Features

Chamberlain and Council Chamber

The Bahia Palace in Marrakech is a stunning example of Moroccan architecture. Visitors can explore the palace’s many rooms, including the Chamberlain and Council Chamber. These rooms were used for official meetings and ceremonies and feature intricate mosaic tiles, carved wooden ceilings, and ornate plasterwork.

Entrance Fee and Tourist Information

To enter the palace, visitors must pay an entrance fee. The fee is reasonable and includes access to all of the palace’s rooms and outdoor areas. Tourist information is available at the entrance, including maps and brochures in multiple languages.

Atmosphere and Lighting

The palace’s atmosphere is peaceful and serene, with quiet courtyards and trickling fountains. The lighting is dim, creating a soft and romantic ambiance. Visitors should note that the palace does not have electricity, so it can be quite dark in some areas.

Stained Glass and Zouak

The palace’s stained glass windows are a highlight of the visit. The vibrant colors and intricate designs are truly breathtaking. Zouak, a traditional Moroccan painting technique on wood, can also be found throughout the palace. Visitors should take the time to appreciate the intricate details of these beautiful works of art.

Mosque and School

The palace also includes a mosque and a school. The mosque is still in use and visitors should be respectful of those who come to pray. The school is no longer in operation but provides a glimpse into the palace’s history and the education system of the time.

Notable Figures and Events

Sultan Moulay Hassan and Sultan Abdelaziz

Bahia Palace has played an important role in the history of Morocco. Two of the most notable figures associated with the palace are Sultan Moulay Hassan and Sultan Abdelaziz. Sultan Moulay Hassan was the first to reside in the palace, and he used it as his official residence in Marrakech. He was known for his love of art and architecture, and he commissioned many of the palace’s most beautiful features. Sultan Abdelaziz, who succeeded Moulay Hassan, also lived in the palace and continued to expand it.

Foreign Dignitaries

Bahia Palace has also hosted many important foreign dignitaries over the years. Notable visitors include Winston Churchill, who stayed at the palace during his visit to Marrakech in 1935, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who met with Winston Churchill at the palace during the Casablanca Conference in 1943.


Bahia Palace played a significant role in the struggle for Moroccan independence. In 1912, Morocco was divided into French and Spanish protectorates, and the French Resident-General, Hubert Lyautey, took up residence in Bahia Palace. The palace became a symbol of French colonial power, and it was looted by the Sultan in 1917. However, the palace was later restored and used as a residence for the French Resident-General until Moroccan independence in 1956.

Today, Bahia Palace stands as a testament to Morocco’s rich history and cultural heritage. Its beautiful architecture and rich history make it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Marrakech.

Nearby Attractions

When visiting Bahia Palace, there are several other attractions nearby that are worth checking out. Here are some of the most popular ones:

El Badi Palace and Dar Si Said

El Badi Palace and Dar Si Said are two historical landmarks located within walking distance of Bahia Palace. El Badi Palace was built in the 16th century and was once a grand palace with a large central courtyard, gardens, and a pool. Today, visitors can explore the ruins and learn about its fascinating history. Dar Si Said, on the other hand, is a museum that houses a collection of traditional Moroccan artifacts, including textiles, ceramics, and jewelry.

Mellah and Souk

Mellah and Souk are two bustling markets located in the heart of Marrakech. Mellah is the Jewish quarter of the city and is known for its narrow streets, historic buildings, and lively atmosphere. Souk, on the other hand, is a massive market that sells everything from spices and textiles to ceramics and jewelry. Visitors can wander through the maze-like streets and haggle with vendors to get the best deals.

Bou Ahmed and Petit Riad

Bou Ahmed and Petit Riad are two traditional Moroccan riads located near Bahia Palace. Bou Ahmed is a beautifully restored riad that features a central courtyard, a rooftop terrace, and a small pool. Petit Riad, on the other hand, is a cozy guesthouse that offers comfortable accommodations and a peaceful atmosphere. Both riads are great options for visitors who want to experience traditional Moroccan architecture and hospitality.

Visiting the Bahia Palace

When planning a visit to the Bahia Palace in Marrakech, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your experience. Here are some tips to help you navigate your visit.

Private Tours and Local Guides

One way to enhance your visit to the Bahia Palace is by hiring a private tour guide or a local guide. Private tours can offer a more personalized experience, allowing you to ask questions and learn more about the history and culture of the palace. Local guides can also provide valuable insights into the palace’s significance and the surrounding area. Make sure to research reputable tour companies or guides beforehand and agree on a price before starting the tour.

Tickets and Entrance Fees

The Bahia Palace is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm, with an entrance fee of 70 DH (as of 01.08.2018), which is around 7 USD. However, locals can enter for a reduced fee of 20 DH. It’s recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines and ensure entry. You can purchase tickets online or at the entrance gate.

Detailed Reviews and Gallery

Before visiting the Bahia Palace, it’s helpful to read detailed reviews from previous visitors to get an idea of what to expect. Many travel websites offer reviews and photos of the palace, which can provide valuable insights into the palace’s architecture, color, light, and mosaic tiles. A gallery of images can also give you a better idea of the palace’s beauty and intricacy.

FAQS on Marrakesh Bahia Palace

Why is the Bahia Palace famous?

Bahia Palace, or “Palais de la Bahia” as it’s known locally, is a famous palace complex in Morocco due to its rich history and stunning architecture. Built in the 19th century for Si Moussa, a grand vizier, this impressive palace became a royal residence and a symbol of power. Its private apartments, large courtyards, and council chambers are richly decorated with painted wood, cedar wood, and stained glass windows, showcasing the grandeur of the period.

How much does it cost to go to Bahia Palace?

As a major tourist attraction in Marrakech, visiting the Bahia Palace has a nominal fee, which can range between 0/2-5 dollars depending on the time of visit and the current pricing by the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism. It is advisable to check the current rates on their official site or a travel guide for Marrakeck before planning your visit.

What is the most beautiful palace in Morocco?

Among the numerous palaces in Morocco, the Bahia Palace stands out as one of the most beautiful. The palace, known as “Palais Bahia”, boasts beautiful gardens, large riads, and small courtyards, all adorned with painted and carved cedar wood, marble, and stained glass windows. Its architecture, featuring a large courtyard and a private apartment, paints a vivid picture of the 19th-century royal residence.

What is the dress code for palace Bahia?

While there’s no official dress code for the Bahia Palace, it’s important to remember that Morocco is a country with conservative values. Visitors are advised to dress modestly out of respect for local customs. This typically means clothing that covers the shoulders and knees for both men and women.

How do you get into the Bahia Palace?

The entrance to the Bahia Palace, located in the southern part of Marrakech’s medina, is accessible from the Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid. It’s advisable to get a map or use a GPS as the medina’s winding streets can be confusing for first-time visitors. The palace is open to the public most days for a small fee.

Who was Bahia Palace built for?

The Bahia Palace was built in the 19th century for Si Moussa, the grand vizier of the Sultan Hassan of Morocco. It was expanded by his son, Bou Ahmed when his own palace, who served as the grand vizier for Sultan Abdelaziz. The palace was intended to be the most impressive palace of its time, showcasing the best of Moroccan architecture and craftsmanship.

What does Bahia mean in Morocco?

In Morocco, the word “Bahia” translates to “brilliance” or “beautiful”, which reflects the stunning architecture and design of the Bahia Palace. This grand 19th-century palace, known as “Palais de la Bahia”, is indeed a testament to the brilliance of Moroccan architectural design, with its beautiful gardens, courtyards, and intricately carved cedar wood detailing.

Who designed the Bahia Palace and for whom was it built?

The Bahia Palace, known as “Palais Bahia” or “the brilliant”, is a masterwork of 19th-century Moroccan architecture. The renowned architect El Mekki was commissioned to design and build this stunning palace for Si Moussa, who was the chamberlain of Sultan Hassan I at the time. The architectural styles showcased in the palace hint at Si Moussa’s playful spirit. After his son inherited the palace, he added his own touch of flamboyant glamour to it, further enhancing its allure.

What is the experience of visiting the Bahia Palace like?

Visiting the 19th-century Palais de la Bahia, located in the bustling Marrakesh Medina, offers a serene respite from the flurry of the local souks. As you meander through the tiled courtyards of Dar Si Moussa, the older building in the 20-acre compound, you’ll feel a sense of calm washing over you.