“Grain by grain, a loaf. Stone upon stone, a palace.”
Moroccan royalty never lived in this palace but it was home to Si Moussa the man who managed the household of the sultan. My second stop on my private guided tour in Marrakech.
Palais de la Bahia or The Bahia Palace, in central Marrakesh, began during the 1860 years and was completed in 1900. Bahia means beautiful and the palace was considered the most beautiful in the world when it was built. Like so much else during the period as it was built in a mixture of Moroccan and Islamic style and the interior is covered from floor to ceiling mosaic. Only a fraction of the 150 rooms of the palace is open to visitors today and a small portion of the garden. A true oasis in the bussing Medina.
The palaces were begun by the sultan’s advisor Si Moussa as his private residence but fully completed by his successor Bou Ahmed. When Palais de la Bahia was completed housed the Ba Hmed’s four wives and 24 concubines!
His favourite wife and his first wife name were Bahia and 24 concubines were the ladies that looked after the 4 wives and made sure that they looked beautiful, felt good and were entertained. I quite like the idea of the concubines.
The Bahia Palace a big old house and a set of houses were collected and converted into a palace in the late nineteenth century by the Moroccan architect El Mekki on behalf of the Grand Vizier Ba Ahmed ben Moussa said Hmad (1841-1900) .
The Bahia Palace is located in the medina of Marrakech along the northern edge of the district Mellah or Jewish quarter. Although the exact dates of the construction of the palace are unknown, the building was in use between 1859 and 1873 and was completed by 1900. The palace was built in two stages by two different men, a father and son who has served in grand viziers Alawite Cherifian.
To reach the building we walked through a beautiful park … and birds were singing their hearts out.
It has a huge courtyard (50m x 30m) open, paved with marble and zellij surrounded by a gallery with carved wooden columns, on which opens an imposing so-called reception room Boardroom, the greatest palace (20m x 8m) and whose ceiling is painted so beautiful.
Four rooms opening onto an open courtyard fully tiled with marble and zellij (tiles) were the private apartments of Ba Hmad; they were transformed in the time of Lyautey Room Officers. I was told it was the apartments of his 4 wives.
It is an interior garden on which open rooms and niches. This is where Ba Hmad received government people in the great Council Chamber painted and perforated ceiling. It was also there that were built later the offices of Marshal Hubert Lyautey, first resident general of the French protectorate in Morocco in 1912, minister of war during the First World War.
The best workmen and craftsmen of the country have worked continuously for six years (1894-1900) and it truly shows in everything … every little detail is so exquisite. Particular the ceilings – they are painted or beautifully carved in cedar wood. There are even cat flaps in the doors.
Sometimes the entire palace is sometimes closed when the royal family come town … also used for official events.
When I went through my images I notice that I haven’t one full image of the palace. I was too wrapped up in all the beautiful details and they were all up in the ceilings. So I have turned to Google for this one.
5 Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid
Opening hours: every day 09.00-16.30
Entrance fee: 1€