Results 1-5of 5 Reviews
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
November 22, 2004
Located not far from the El Badi Palace is the beautiful and opulent Dar La Bahia. In the late 19th century, Ba Ahmed, grand vizier to the sultans Moulay Hassan and Moulay Abd el Aziz, ordered this magnificent palace to be built. The palace, standing in a 2-acre garden, is a haphazard arrangement of secret luxury apartments opening on to inner courtyards. For 7 years around a thousand craftsmen from the Fez region worked on the palace, using the same motifs and materials inside as the architects had used on the outside of the building. Thus the carved wood, plaster, and stucco of the facade are continued in the interior decoration. The master of works, seriously hampered by his weight and small stature, had the palace built on one level. The only sections of the Dar el Bahia open to the public are the apartments of the sultan’s favourite concubine, the council chamber, with its tiled walls and illuminated cedar wood ceiling, the great central courtyard, paved with marble and decorated with zellige, and fountains. The courtyards, planted with flowers, were reserved for the sultan’s five wives and 24 concubines. During the French protectorate, the palace was the residence of General Lyautey, France’s first resident general.
From journal Memories of Marrakesh
August 15, 2004
From journal The mysterious city of Morocco
October 12, 2003
Judging by the impressive spread of the ruins, the palace seems to have extended across the whole area east of the Kasbah mosque (which you can see in the distance). It was built by Ahmed Al-Mansour between 1578 and 1602 and called at the time "the Incomparable" (if it was anything like the palaces which remain intact, you have to wonder whether apparent hyperbole wasn't likely in fact to have been a fair description--apparently, marble was imported from Italy and precious metals and stones used liberally). Unfortunately in 1696, Moulay Ismail was building his new city at Meknes in the north and ransacked the palace for materials so little is left. At the very rear of the ruins, you can just about make out some fresco remaining in place but it's a far cry from the splendour the palace must have enjoyed in its heyday.
You can scramble up and down over various areas, including climbing up some steps to the top of a two-storey building to the left as you enter (the Koubba al-Khamsinyya) to reach a terrace which presumably used to have fountains and tiled floors and columns (some of the columns remain). From here, you also have a great view across the sunken orange groves to a small temple building and the Kasbah mosque in the distance (see below).
On the far left hand side, beyond the orange groves, you can climb around the ruins of the palace kitchens and offices, through underground passages (bring a torch and mind your footing). It takes a little imagination (maybe that's why it's often ignored), but it's a peaceful and relaxing spot for a hour spent meandering and exploring.
It also seems a popular home to nesting storks, whose impressive constructions lean precariously from the narrow walls and chimney-tops (see photo below)-- the storks also form mighty swirling flocks at sunset.
Open 9am-5pm; entrance 10dh.
From journal Mesmerising Marrakech
December 20, 2002
Palais el-Badi was constructed between 1578 and 1602 as a grand palace for Ahmed al-Mansour. It is said that Moulay Idriss diabolically had the rich materials stripped from the palace for implementation at his own palace in Meknes. Therefore, the current state of the palace is a vast, sun-baked ruin. Very little remains from the Italian marble, Irish granite, and Indian onyx that formerly lined the surfaces of the rooms. The interior courtyard contains rectangular sunken gardens with lush trees popping out. There are rooms surrounding the courtyard with a varied degree of intactness. You can walk into and around some of these formerly grandiose spaces, and even scurry through a dark underpass that is not too creepy on a sunny day. There is a pair of huge black wooden gate doors visible within the courtyard. Their immense size and weight are visually noticeable, as the doors sag slightly at the unhinged edges.
Not to be missed is the roof terrace, where you can get closeup views of formidable stork nests (with glorious storks!) as well as panoramas of the city and its minarets, and the range of snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the south. You can see how large the palatial grounds are from here. In the back there is a historic prayer room, but there is an extra fee to visit this area.
From journal Bill in Morocco - MARRAKESH
by globe trotter
Manchester, United Kingdom
December 4, 2000
Unfortunately little remains of the 16th century wonder - just an empty shell. You can still get a sense of the scale of the building & the storks nesting in the ramparts add a quirky touch!
From journal Medinas & Mosques in Morocco