on October 2, 2012
If you want to get just a flavour of Moroccan and Andalucía Architecture then you can do little better than to visit the Saadian Tombs near the Kasbah area of Marrakech. The Saadian Tombs are burial grounds first built in the late 1500s for the local sultan Ahmad al-Mansur and his family and used by them and their sons until the 1700s, when the tombs were blocked off by a new Sultan keen to create his own dynasty. It was only in 1917 when the French were undertaking aerial photographs of the city did anyone realise that these tombs still existed. Today entrance to the tombs is through a passageway cut through a very thick wall at the side of a mosque. Entrance is 10 Dirham (or about 70p). The buildings take about 30 minutes to wander round and you cannot access the actual buildings themselves; you get a view through the doorway. The tombs comprise of three much decorated rooms and some outside space now inhabited by graves of servants and soldiers, and lot of stray cats and kittens playing in the sun shine. There are over 60 bodies in total and most point towards Mecca. It was only during a period of plague when there wasn't time to arrange the bodies appropriately were any buried at a different angle.Unusually for Morocco where men often held the positions of power, one of the tomb buildings is dedicated to a woman; the mother of Ahmad al-Mansur who was a great battle strategist and who just before her death advised her son on how to invade and take Timbuktu, then a great trading centre for Gold and a place of great wealth. This was a famous victory for the Moroccans who used just 4,000 men using the modern guns of the day to defeat a defending army of 40,000. The rooms in the Saadian are made from beautiful tiling, plaster carvings and cedar wood (which can withstand the extreme heat of Marrakech).
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