Tombs of the Saadis

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

This royal necropolis of the 16th and 17th Centuries was modeled after the famous Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour is buried here along with his successors and closest family members, within two main structures. Moulay Ismail had the tombs sealed off in a power play years later, and they were not rediscovered until 1917 by a team of French surveyors.

You may spot the minaret of the Kasbah Mosque, which was the personal mosque of the Sultan. The minaret, located at the northwest corner of the mosque, is plastered orange and features some nice tilework. It may be seen as a stylistic cousin to the great Koutoubia minaret.

The path to the tombs is a mysterious, dark and narrow path alongside one of the mosque walls. Once you get to the main courtyard, you will then branch off towards various rooms housing about a hundred tombs. The two main mausoleums house 66 royal Saadian tombs. The first room after the entrance is the resting place for the Sultan's mother. The next room is the lavishly decorated Hall of the Twelve Columns, housing various tombs raised above a floor of polished marble. The Sultan's sarcophagus, elegantly carved and shaped with a long narrow ridge at the top, has the nicest mosaic tilework. Another room contains the tombs of his wives, concubines, and many of his children (though not all of them). The more elaborate the tomb, the higher the status of the person. There are also many unmarked flat "tombstones" that look like rectangular sections of colored tile floors. The rooms housing the tombs are dimly lit, but with enough daylight you can take some wonderful photographs of these richly ornamented spaces. Note the use of materials like dark wood, milky-hued marble, and swirling colored zellij tiles.

The main courtyard has a pleasantly peaceful atmosphere, with some greenspace surrounding the unsheltered tombstones. You will probably encounter lots of cuddly stray cats in the courtyard, but watch out! Above as an overactive bird that may poop on you!

Saadian Tombs
Next To Kasbah Mosque, Off Rue De La Kasbah
Marrakesh, Morocco

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