a lavish resting place – the saadian tombs, marrakesh

“One who does not travel will not know that value of men.”
(Moroccan Proverb)

I truly had a magical Christmas in Marrakesh last year and here comes a new about my adventure. A place I will go back to for sure .. in a couple of years time. Another Christmas maybe. I haven’t really posted a lot about my 5 days in Marrakesh, probably because I haven’t really known where to start, but I think I’m at the point that I know how to get my head around who describe this mad and wonderful city.

First I want to share the first place I was taken to by my fantastic private guide, Abh El, which I had a fantastic full day with alone. It was also my first full day in Marrakesh. I booked the guided tour online the evening before take off.

The pick up was a bit late, but I didn’t expect anything else and I was a bit confused by how it started … taken in the car with a guide that wasn’t going to be my guide and they took me out into the modern part of Marrakesh and drove up and down a major street for no reason, then we drove out to the suburbs to pick up my guide .. then they drove us both into the old town, Medina … and left us there. Anyway, it turned out to be a great day.  The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky .. pleasant spring temperature.

They let us off by what was going to be my first stop … The Saadian Tombs, a royal mausoleum. Well hidden behind high walls and an extremely narrow passage.

The Saadian Tombs were built in the 16th century as a mausoleum to bury many Saadian rulers and entertainers. It was lost for many years until the French rediscovered it in 1917 using aerial photographs. The mausoleum comprises the corpses of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty that originated in the valley of the Draa River. Among the graves are those of Ahmad al-Mansur and his family. The building is composed of three rooms, of which the best known is the room with the twelve columns. This room contains the grave of the son of the sultan’s son Ahmad al-Mansur. Architecturally it represents Islamic architecture, with floral motifs, calligraphy and geometric mosaic tiles (zellij) and carrara marble, and the style is in finely worked cedar wood and stucco work. Outside the building are a garden and the graves of soldiers and servants. (this I have copied from Wikipedia)

This little mausoleum made a huge impact on me .. I found it so beautiful and tranquil, even if didn’t look like it was totally finished in the garden, I didn’t care. The sweet and bitter orange trees … and the roses were enough for me.

The most impressive tomb is the most significant chamber in the  Hall of Twelve Columns. Here rest the Sultan Ahmed el Mansour and his entire family. This chamber is complete with vaulted roof, columns of Italian marble, beautifully decorated cedar doors and carved wooden screens.

Never seen anything like it. Abh El told me that everybody was buried on the left side and head against Mekka.

The second of the mausoleums holds the tomb of the founder of the Saadian dynasty, Mohammed ech Sheikh, found in the inner chamber. The sultan’s mother is also buried here, in a lavish tomb carved with poetic blessings and dutifully protected by stray cats.

Abh El also explained the star that was seen everywhere in paint, tiles, jali, wood, rugs, ceramic and mosaic – it’s everywhere.  An Islamic decoration: the circle,  symbolises unity and diversity in nature, and many Islamic patterns are drawn starting with a circle. The point in the middle is Mekka and everything that is pointed against Mekka is the people praying – this is a very short version. There is a lot more to it than this.

Scattered around the gardens are the tombs of over 100 more Saadian princes and members of the royal household, including a few Jewish graves. The gravestones are covered in brilliantly coloured tiles and most have inscriptions with epitaphs and quotes from the Qur’an.

It’s not a big area so I can image it can be very crowded .. we were there around 10.30 and it was okay, but as we were leaving it was starting to build up. It doesn’t take long time to visit … because it’s so small … I think we were there 30 min. For me a well spent Euro. 

There is also a photo gallery that shows the state of tombs when the French find them in 1917, but no information about how many years it took to restore the tombs to the glory they are today. They were restored by the Beaux-arts, whatever that means. That story isn’t told anywhere.

Saadian Tombs
Next to Kasbah Mosque
off rue de la Kasbah
Open – every day, 9-18.
Entrance: 1€

13 thoughts on “a lavish resting place – the saadian tombs, marrakesh

    • I read about it, but I didn’t really know what it was. Very small and you don’t need to spend a lot of time there … but the beauty in some of the mausoleums is breathtaking. Very peaceful plays … if you are there before the big herds.
      Glad I could give you some idea. You’re normally the one that gives me. I’m going back to Marrakech again. It was just like I had image .. for good and less good. *smile

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