El Badi Palace, The Ruins. Marrakech

El Badi Palace

El Badi is a ruined palace on the outskirts of Marrakesh’s medina walls.  El Badi actually means ‘The Incomparable Palace’ and it was commissioned by a Sultan in 1578.  Its construction was entirely funded by a ransom which was paid by the Portuguese after the Battle of  Alcazar (the Three Kings).

Very briefly, the Battle of the Three Kings (Battle of Alcazar) was fought in northern Morocco near the town of Alcassar in 1578. It’s a bit convoluted but the combatants appear to have been The King of Portugal with the army of the deposed Sultan Mohammed II against the new Sultan Malik I and his much larger army.

Entrance fee

Children are free to enter the palace and adults pay 10 dirham.  This is less than £1. It is great value as you could spend half a day there easily.

It’s HUGE

Although there’s not much left of the actual palace there’s enough remnants on multiple levels to see why it’s name is ‘Incomparable’. The original building is thought to have consisted of 360 richly decorated rooms, a courtyard (135×110 m) and a central pool (90×20 m).

The palace took twenty-five years to build, using some of the most expensive materials of the era (gold, Italian marble, semi-precious stones, cedar wood and onyx) and was completed in 1593.  It also took an impressive ten years to strip of its grandeur. The 17th century Sultan Ismail I, systematically destroyed the palace and removed everything of value.

It is a magnificent site and if you have the choice to visit, I would definitely recommend it.

the green pavillion

You enter the ruins through the Green Pavillion. This isn’t the designated entrance, it’s just the only one still standing!

The Green Pavillion is missing its tiles, fountain and sculptured plaster… along with a roof, ceilings, floors and everything else lol but the thickness of the walls and the height of the doors give you an insight into its magnitude.

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The green pavilion

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You enter through the Green pavillion

THE CENTRAL COURT

You enter the ruins through the Green Pavillion and emerge into the vast centre court.  At 135m long x 110m wide it dominates the palace.

You’ll need to take at least one bottle of water as the palace is mostly uncovered and southern Morocco has about 300 days of sunshine a year!

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The main court

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The palace ruins from above


The sunken gardens

Within the central court are four sunken gardens, two on each side straddling the pool.

The gardens are cultivated by a gardener and you can see orange and lemon trees as well as a few stray cats and a tortoise.

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The sunken gardens

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The sunken gardens where orange trees grow

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The gardens

Corner basins

There are four smaller pools in each corner of the main court. The pools are normally empty and you can walk down inside them. These are NOT pools for swimming in however, they are thought to have been built on a substructure of vaults which circulated water through the gardens.

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One of the corner pools

 

The 90m pool

You can actually walk out into the middle of the pool. It makes a great viewing platform although I’m not sure this was its original intention!

The pool measures 90m long x 20m wide and was probably for bathing.

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The 90m long pool

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The 90m pool

CLimbing up

In its northeast corner of el Badi, you can climb upwards to see the ramparts from above. Whilst up there you’ll be able to see the copious amounts of storks that have made the palace walls their homes. The nests are enormous!

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The palace from upabove

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The resident storks on the walls

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Up above on the roof

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The view over the palace

The hidden chambers and dungeons

Below the palace walls are a large number of dark and narrow, subterranean passages which is thought to have been used by palace staff accessing different areas.

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Rooms underneath the palace

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Tunnel ways

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Tunnel ways underneath the palace ruins

 

SUmmer time residence

Not content with the palace, the Sultan had a summer time residence built in the grounds. A sign of opulence no doubt.

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The summer residence

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The summer residence

 

 The four pavilions

Of course, every king needs a pavilion or four…. and there are several large ones still left. The green pavilion, the cristal pavilion, the khaysuran and the audience pavilion.  These are thought to have been used as summer houses and entertaining places.

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A summer house

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The audience pavilion

All in All….

We quite enjoyed these ruins and thought they were really good value for money. There were plenty of places for the kids to run around and explore and nothing they could really break!!

They particularly enjoyed the gardens and finding the tortoise.

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