Exploring the Majestic Marrakech Palaces



Marrakech, known as the “Red City” of Morocco, is renowned for its exquisite palaces. Some of the most notable include the Bahia Palace, a masterpiece of Moroccan architecture featuring beautiful gardens, and El Badi Palace, known for its historical significance and the annual National Festival of Popular Arts. Another worth visiting is the Royal Palace, also known as Dar el-Makhzen, which is still in use today but can be admired from outside.

Key Points

  • Bahia Palace is a key landmark, notable for its stunning architecture and gardens.
  • El Badi Palace is a historical site that hosts an annual arts festival.
  • The Royal Palace, though not open to the public, is an impressive sight from the outside.

History and Culture

Marrakech is a city that has been shaped by its rich history and culture. The city’s palaces and tombs are a testament to its past, and they provide a glimpse into the lives of the sultans and rulers who once called this city home.

The Sultan’s Palaces

The sultan’s palaces are some of the most impressive structures in Marrakech. Built during the 16th and 17th centuries, these palaces were the homes of the sultans and their families. The most famous of these palaces is the Bahia Palace, which was built in the late 19th century by Si Moussa. The palace has 150 rooms, including a harem section, and it is set over two acres in the middle of the Marrakech medina.

Another impressive palace is the El Badi Palace, which was built in the late 1570s on the order of Ahmed el Mansour, a Saadi sultan who came to power in 1578. The palace was named “the incomparable” and was funded by the Portuguese following their defeat in the Battle of the Three Kings.

The Saadian Tombs

The Saadian Tombs are another important historical site in Marrakech. These tombs were discovered in 1917 and are the final resting place of members of the Saadian dynasty, which ruled Morocco from 1549 to 1659. The tombs were sealed up by order of Moulay Ismail, who wanted to erase the memory of the Saadian dynasty. The tombs were rediscovered in 1917 by the French, and they have since been restored to their former glory.

The Mellah

The Mellah is the Jewish quarter of Marrakech. It was established in the 16th century and was once home to a thriving Jewish community. The Mellah is an important part of Marrakech’s history and culture, and it is still home to a small Jewish community today. Visitors to the Mellah can see the Jewish cemetery, which dates back to the 16th century, as well as the Lazama Synagogue, which was built in the 15th century.

Architecture and Design

Marrakech is renowned for its stunning palaces, which showcase the city’s unique blend of Moroccan and Islamic architectural styles. The palaces are characterized by intricate stucco work, colorful zellij tiles, and ornate wood carvings. In this section, we will take a closer look at the architecture and design of three of the most impressive palaces in Marrakech: Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace, and Dar Si Said.

Bahia Palace

Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century for Si Moussa, a vizier of the sultan. The palace is named after one of Si Moussa’s wives, Bahia, and is known for its stunning courtyards and gardens. The palace is a prime example of Moroccan architecture, with its intricate stucco work, carved cedar ceilings, and colorful zellij tiles. The entrance to the palace is through a large courtyard, which is surrounded by rooms that were used by Si Moussa’s black slave and concubines.

It became the royal residence when Morocco gained independence in 1956 and remained so until it was transferred to the Moroccan ministry of Culture.

El Badi Palace

El Badi Palace was built in the late 16th century by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur. The palace was once one of the most luxurious and largest palaces in the world, but now only ruins remain. The palace is known for its massive courtyard, which was once filled with water and used for naval battles. The palace is also famous for its unique blend of Moroccan and Islamic architectural styles, which is reminiscent of the Alhambra in Granada.

Dar Si Said

Dar Si Said was built in the 19th century by Si Said, the brother of the Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed. The palace is known for its stunning architecture and design, which includes intricate stucco work, colorful zellij tiles, and ornate wood carvings. The palace is also home to a museum of Moroccan arts and crafts, which showcases traditional Moroccan clothing, jewelry, and pottery.

Gardens and Courtyards

Marrakech is famous for its beautiful gardens and courtyards, which offer a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Many of these gardens are located within the walls of palaces, providing a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the city’s rulers.

The Royal Palace Gardens

The Royal Palace Gardens, also known as the Agdal Gardens, are located just outside the walls of the Royal Palace. These gardens cover an area of over 400 hectares and are filled with fruit trees, olive groves, and ornamental plants. The gardens are open to the public and are a popular spot for picnics and strolls.

The Agdal Gardens

The Agdal Gardens are part of the Royal Palace complex and were originally created in the 12th century. The gardens cover an area of over 100 hectares and are filled with citrus trees, olive groves, and orchards. The gardens are divided into several sections, including a large central pool and several smaller pools.

The Menara Gardens

The Menara Gardens are located just outside the city walls and are known for their stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. The gardens were created in the 12th century and are filled with olive groves, fruit trees, and ornamental plants. The gardens are centered around a large reservoir, which was used for irrigation in the past.

Visiting Marrakech Palaces

Marrakech is a city that is steeped in history and culture, and visiting its palaces is a must-do activity for any tourist. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Tour Guide Services

To get the most out of your visit, it is recommended that you hire a tour guide. A good tour guide will not only provide you with historical and cultural context, but also help you navigate the winding streets of the medina. There are many tour guide services available in Marrakech, and prices can vary widely depending on the level of service you require. It is important to do your research and choose a reputable company.

Exploring the Medina

The medina of Marrakech is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to some of the city’s most famous palaces. Exploring the medina can be overwhelming, but it is an experience not to be missed. The sights, sounds, and smells of the medina are an assault on the senses, and it is easy to get lost in the maze of narrow streets. It is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes and bring a map or hire a guide to help you navigate.

Things to Do in Marrakech

In addition to visiting the palaces, there are many other things to do in Marrakech. Some of the most popular tourist attractions include the Jardin Majorelle, the Koutoubia Mosque, and the Saadian Tombs. Marrakech is also known for its entertainment, including snake charmers, street performers, and musicians. It is recommended that you take some time to explore the city and soak up the local culture.

The Most Beautiful Palaces in Marrakech

Marrakech is home to some of the most beautiful palaces in the world. These palaces are a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. In this section, we will explore two of the most stunning palaces in Marrakech: La Bahia and Dar El Bacha.

La Bahia

La Bahia Palace is one of the most visited and famous historical landmarks in Morocco. This palace is a must-visit during your time in Marrakech. Drawing over 600,000 visitors per year, one must wonder what makes this palace so attractive. The answer is simple: the palace’s stunning architecture and intricate design.

La Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century for Si Moussa, a wealthy Moroccan nobleman. The palace was later renovated and expanded by his son, Ba Ahmed. The palace’s name, Bahia, means “brilliance” or “beauty,” and it lives up to its name in every way.

The palace features a stunning array of courtyards, gardens, and rooms. The rooms are decorated with intricate tile work, carved stucco, and painted wood. The palace also boasts beautiful gardens, with orange trees, banana trees, and fountains. The gardens are a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.

La Bahia Palace is also known for hosting art exhibitions. The palace has hosted exhibitions by famous artists such as Yves Saint Laurent. The exhibitions showcase the palace’s stunning architecture and provide a unique insight into Moroccan culture.

Dar El Bacha

Dar El Bacha is another beautiful palace in Marrakech. The palace was built in the early 20th century for the Pasha of Marrakech. The palace was later used as a residence for the French Resident-General during the French Protectorate of Morocco.

The palace’s architecture is a blend of Moroccan and European styles. The palace features beautiful gardens, courtyards, and rooms. The rooms are decorated with intricate tile work, carved stucco, and painted wood.

Today, the palace is home to the Museum of Confluences. The museum showcases the history and culture of Marrakech and Morocco. The museum’s exhibits include traditional clothing, jewelry, and pottery.

FAQs on Palaces in Marrakech Morocco

How many palaces are there in Marrakech?

Marrakech, often dubbed the “Red City”, houses several palaces, each with its own unique identity. The city boasts two main palaces: El Badi Palace, a captivating experience of historic ruins, and Bahia Palace, a preserved 19th-century grand vizier’s residence, embodying impressive Moroccan architecture with its inner courtyards and vast gardens.

What is the main palace in Marrakech?

Bahia Palace, nestled in the heart of the Medina, is considered the main palace in Marrakech. Constructed in the 19th century for Ba Ahmed, the then grand vizier, the palace is a testament to Moroccan aesthetics. The palace gardens, surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, offer a serene retreat away from the bustling Jemaa el Fna square.

What is the most beautiful palace in Morocco?

Considered one of Morocco’s architectural gems, Bahia Palace is widely recognized as the most beautiful palace in the country. Its gardens, adorned with palm trees, and central basin reflect a harmonious blend of Andalusian and Moroccan styles. Intricate carvings on cedar wood and painted ceilings add to its beauty.
What is the biggest palace in Marrakech?

El Badi Palace, now a museum, was once the largest palace in Marrakech, commissioned by the Saadian Sultan in the 16th century. Although mostly ruins now, the vast courtyard and remains of the Saadian Tombs give a glimpse into the palace’s past grandeur.

What hotel did the Kardashians stay in Morocco?

The Kardashians visited Morocco and stayed at the luxurious Riad El Fenn hotel in Marrakech. It’s a favorite spot for tourists due to its central location, close to the Medina and the famous Koutoubia Mosque.

How many castles are there in Morocco?

Though not traditionally known for castles, Morocco has several royal residences and palaces reminiscent of castles. Their exact number varies as many historic buildings and palaces throughout the country have castle-like features. They serve as a tourist attraction offering a deep dive into Morocco’s rich history.

What is the Ben Youssef Madrasa?

Medersa Ben Youssef Madrasa, located in the heart of Marrakech’s old city, the Medina, is one of Morocco’s most impressive historical sites. Established in the 14th century, it was once the largest Islamic school in North Africa, renowned for its stunning architecture. The Madrasa boasts intricate carvings, cedar woodwork, and captivating inner courtyards.