La Bahia (The Beautiful) is an 8000-sq-metre, floor-to-ceiling extravagance of intricate marquetry, plasterwork and zouak (painted wooden), and definitely one among Marrakesh’s most eye-popping sights.
The salons of each the Petit Riad and Grand Riad host intricate marquetry and zouak ceilings, however the Cour d’Honneur, a grand courtyard, with its 1500 sq metre flooring of Italian Carrara marble, is the undisputed spotlight.
Despite the huge space on present, solely a portion of the palace’s eight hectares and 150 rooms is open to the general public. Its grand areas generally play host to essential cultural occasions.
Built by Grand Vizier Si Moussa within the 1860s, the palace was later expanded and embellished from 1894 to 1900 by his son and successor Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed. The Cour d’Honneur (courtyard) was transformed right into a harem by Bou Ahmed after he grew to become Grand Vizier in 1894. Indeed, the enlargement and beautification of Bahia Palace was pushed by Bou Ahmed’s want to accommodate his 4 wives and 24 concubines.
Bou Ahmed died in 1900, and in 1908 the palace’s beguiling charms attracted warlord Pasha Glaoui, who claimed it as an acceptable venue to entertain French friends. They, in flip, have been so impressed that they booted out their host in 1912, putting in the protectorate’s resident-general in his place.
When Morocco gained independence from France in 1956, the palace was used as a royal residence, till King Hassan II transferred it to the custody of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, so the constructing may function a cultural icon and vacationer attraction.
Touring the palace
Closest to the doorway, the single-storey Petit Riad is analogous in format and measurement to conventional homes of the medina, but it surely’s notable for the ornamentation of its salons. Its partitions of intensely elaborate white plasterwork are inscribed with verses from the Quran. In the nineteenth century when it was initially embellished, this plaster would have been carved in situ whereas moist – simply think about the artisan ability required to work so swiftly and precisely.
Sandwiched between the Petit Riad and the Grand Riad, you will move by way of two courtyards. The first is comparatively plain, however the second, known as the Grand Cour or Cour d’Honneur, is the undisputed coronary heart of the palace and one of the crucial spectacular open areas ever to be conceived in Morocco. It is 1500 sq metres in measurement and was restored to its unique brilliance in 2018. The flooring is an unlimited expanse of Italian Carrara marble, encircled by a gallery uniquely colored with vibrant blue and yellow plaster and woodwork.
Step by way of the doorway from the Cour d’Honneur into the massive courtyard of the Grand Riad, studded with fountains and plush foliage and sound-tracked by birdsong. This is the oldest a part of the palace complicated, accomplished in 1867 by Si Moussa, a former slave who rose by way of the ranks to change into one among Sultan Hassan I’s most essential aides. The riad’s salon is bedecked with carved wooden lintels, zouak artistry and stained-glass detailing – Bahia Palace was regarded as the primary constructing in North Africa to make use of stained glass as an ornamental characteristic.
Tickets and different practicalities
Entrance charges are Dh70 for adults and Dh30 for kids. Aim to reach early to dodge the massive tour teams that frequently descend on the constructing.