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  • Pierre @ Riad Dar Chacha

El Badi Palace : an impressive remnant of the glorious palace of Sultan Ahmed al Mansour

Updated: Oct 17, 2023


El Badi Palace, Palais Badi, Marrakech, Marrakesh, Morocco, Maroc, Médina, Musée de Marrakech


The El Badi Palace, an emblematic monument of Marrakesh, is one of the most magnificent sites to visit in the city. Built in the late 16th century by Saadian Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur Eddahbi to celebrate his army's victory over the Portuguese enemy in the "Battle of the Three Kings", the palace is located in Marrakesh's Mellah district.


Ahmed Al Mansour Sultan of Morocco, Saadian, El Badi Palace, Palais Badi, Marrakech, Marrakesh, Morocco

The El Badi Palace was built northeast of the Kasbah, close to the private apartments of Saadian Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur Eddahbi who is buried at the nearby Saadian Tombs of Marrakesh.


Construction lasted from 1578 to 1594, although some work continued until 1603, the year of the sultan's death. As a symbol of power, the palace expressed the sovereign's luxury both to his subjects and to foreign embassies. It was the setting for solemn audiences and celebrations. Its architecture, considered a jewel of Islamic art, was influenced by the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Today, few vestiges remain of the palace's former splendour. Around 1696, the Alawite sultan Moulay Ismaïl ordered its demolition, which lasted almost a decade. Much of the material would have been reused in Meknes, the city designated by

Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur


the sovereign as the capital of his empire in 1672.


EL Badi Palace, Palais Badi, Marrakesh, Marrakech, Medina, Ahmed Al Mansour, Zellije Tiles, Zellige

Archaeological excavations were carried out in 1953, revealing the general structure of the palace as well as fragments of materials.

The main entrance to the palace was to the southwest, through the majestic marble gate. The general organisation of the palace was centred around a vast rectangular courtyard measuring 135 by 110 meters.


El Badi Palace, Marrakech, Marrakesh, Morocco, Ahmed Al Mansour, Palace Marrakech

At the heart of this courtyard was a 90x20-meter pool, adorned with a monumental fountain. On either side of the central courtyard, to the east and west, stood two symmetrical pavilions: the "Crystal Pavilion" and the "Audience Pavilion", with almost identical floor plans. The north and south sides were occupied respectively by the "Green Pavilion" and the "Heliotrope Pavilion", both of which featured open galleries. In all, the palace comprised 360 rooms.


The term El Badi, meaning "the incomparable", testifies to the grandeur and importance of the construction at the time of the palace. Today, the remains of the palace offer a vast esplanade landscaped with orange trees, replacing the former water features.

A large pool runs through this area. Cross the bridge over the basin to the Marrakesh Museum of Photography and Visual Arts. The ruins of this palatial complex, where many storks once nested, are now open to the public and host the annual Moroccan Folklore Festival.


In the second part of the El Badi Palace, for a supplement of 10 dirhams, you can visit an enclosed area that houses the minbar of the great Koutoubia mosque, with explanations about it. The minbar is a magnificent preaching pulpit, originally from Cordoba, Spain, and transported to Marrakesh. It is a masterpiece of Arab-Andalusian art, made up of a thousand carved cedar pieces, inlaid mainly with silver, and adorned with sandalwood and ebony marquetry. Renovation work has been carried out to restore it to its former glory.

During your visit to this peaceful place, you'll be accompanied by the sound of storks' beaks, most of which have established their nests atop the ramparts of Marrakesh Palace. For a closer look, you can climb up to the panoramic viewpoint on your left, at the entrance to the palace.

Since 2011, the El Badi Palace has been used as one of the main stages for the annual Marrakesh du Rire festival, organized by French-Moroccan comedian Jamel Debbouze.


Practical information for your visit:

The Palais El Badi is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located in the Jewish quarter of the Medina.

Entrance fees are:

  • 70 dirhams for adults

  • 30 dirhams for children under 12

  • 10 dirhams for Moroccan citizens and foreign residents in Morocco

  • 5 dirhams for Moroccan children or foreign residents in Morocco.

📍 where to find the Badi Palace : click here for location

 

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