The Bahia Palace – A photo tour
One of the splendid attractions worth visiting in the old Medina at Marrakesh is the beautiful palace called La Bahia (The beautiful) which was built in two stages during the late 19th century. The estate of the grand vizor to the sultan, the palace created to be one of the most opulent islamic style palaces of that timeframe. Experienced craftsmen were brought in from Fez to complete many of the elaborate detail work in the interiors and fine materials were shipped in from around the country to decorate the gorgeous interior courtyards and apartments.
The Bahia palace complex is a series of open courtyards, walled gardens, pavilions and one of the largest harems created in Morocco. Lush, exotic gardens connect the various courtyards and apartments, and filled with scented jasmine and roses, lemon, oranges and other tropical plants including bananas. The entire gardens are extensive and meld the interior spaces beautifully with outdoor living. The inner courtyards are also filled with intimate garden spaces with fountains and elaborate tile work or zellige, which are small cut pieces and placed into magnificent islamic patterns decorating, the floors, walls, columns and even the ceilings.
The vizor’s large estate was the envy of the sultan himself. Eventually when the grand vizor passed away, the sultan immediately raided the Bahia palace and collected all the beautiful furnishing and fine detailed work to furnish his own palaces around the country. Surprisingly, when you go visit another area of the palace and perimeter, the buildings look like they are in total decay, most of this was due to the raid, neglect and the eventual decline of its use by the heirs. Even with its bare and stark interiors, the beautiful interiors of the palace, islamic details and lush courtyard gardens are worth a visit to see what this type of palace would look at. Currently, the entire complex is currently being used by the Moroccan government for many purposes. It houses a museum, civic government offices and officially it is a reception gathering for foreign dignitaries when they are visiting.
Beautiful tile work throughout the palace
There are no signs or descriptions anywhere around the Bahia palace, so if you do not have guidebooks or come with a tour guide, you can hire a guide in front of the entrance to take you around the many rooms. Or you can casually drop in and out of the many tours with guides talking about the rooms. This is a very busy place for tours, so get there early to avoid the massive crowds. My advise for taking great photos without the crowds is to follow at the tail end of any of tour group, and once they leave you should have ample time to take some great shots before the next set of tour groups come into the rooms.
Have you ever tried an authentic Moroccan style meal cooked outdoors exclusively with tagines made with thick ceramic containers, I write about this delicious dining experience here, enjoy the meal.
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