Palais el-Badi

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by billmoy on December 20, 2002

For the unsuspecting visitor, a visit to the Palais el-Badi is an unexpected treat. Walk down a high-walled corridor to a small ticket booth. After purchasing your ticket (still only 10 dirham, about 1 US dollar, as of November 2002), you may encounter a guide. After we flatly turned him down, he sternly stated that we should not try to tag along with another group that he may be leading later. That was fine with us, as we wanted to wander the cavernous spaces on our own.

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.

El Badi Palace
Place Des Ferblantiers
Marrakesh, Morocco

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