This 19th century Palace is well worth a visit (I ended up making 2 visits, once independently, once (unintended) as part of a guided tour)
Its name translates as 'The Brilliant'
The attractive, well preserved, Harem Courtyard has featured in many Big Budget Movies.
Part of the palace is closed to visitors as it is still used by the Royal family and their staff.
The Bahia Palace was home to the Grand Vizier of Sultan Moulay al - Hassan, Si' Ahmed ben Musa or Bou Ahmed. It was built towards the end of the 19th century, taking nearly 15 years to complete. Following the death of Bou Ahmed, the Palace was Ransacked Restoration work is still ongoing !
The rooms (nearly 150!), housed Ba Ahmed, his 4 wives and 24 concubines plus servants and guards.
The Palace follows the patterns of typical Islamic architecture, with central courtyards, having rooms leading off, with doorways that are placed so that you can't see beyond (providing privacy) Fountains and gardens are also typical features, along with the decorative stucco panels, tiled floors and zellij work (see my next tip for more details)
To view the palace, there are arrows guiding you through the various rooms.
Open 08.30 - 11.15 and 14.30 -17.45 Sat - Thur
08.30 - 11.30 and 15.00 - 17.45 Fri.
Palais Bahia translates as Palace of the Favourite.
Built in two stages or parts at the end of the 19th century by two powerful grand viziers - the older part built by Si Moussa, the vizier of Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abderrahman, and the newer part of the two built by Si Moussa's son, Ba Ahmed, vizier of Moulay Abdelaziz.
The older part contains apartments around a marble-paved courtyard and an open courtyard with cypress and orange trees and jasmine, with 2 star shaped pools.
The newer part is a huge palace complex containing luxurious apartments looking onto courtyards planted with trees. The best craftsmen in the kingdom were apparently hired to build and decorate this palace and it is decorated with prized materials such as marble from Meknes, cedar from the Middle Atlas and tiles from Tetouan.
The main courtyard, once used by the vizier's concubines, is paved with marble and zellij tilework, with 3 fountains and surrounded by a gallery of finely fluted columns. This courtyard faces the main reception room with a cedar ceiling painted with arabesque.
I have visited the Bahia on two occasions - the first was quite rushed and I always after wanted to come back for a better look! When I finally returned last year I needed about 1 and a half to 2 hours to adequately see and photograph this beautiful complex!
Entrance is still only 10 dirham - approximately 1 euro
Check if it definitely closes for a lunchbreak from about 1230 to 230 pm each day. Opens early before 9am and closes 6pm.
I visited the Bahia Palace twice, once planned, the second time unintentionally as part of a guided tour (see my Warnings and dangers tips) but I didn't mind too much as it is an interesting place and I did learn a bit more.
Our guide kept saying what I thought at first was "See the wood", so I was looking up at the intricately painted ceiling, thinking what wood? but then realised he was actually saying Cedar wood! the artwork was painted over the highly prized cedar wood! (doh!) As You can see from my pictures, the artwork is quite stunning.
Besides the painted cedar wood, The Bahia Palace has some good examples of stucco panels, Zellij tilework and stained glass windows. (Please see my photos below)
One of the best preserved palaces of Marrakech, el Bahia Palace is not to be missed. It was built in the late 19th century by a vizier to the sultan and expanded by the acquisition of neighbouring houses, which resulted in a labyrinth of corriders and chambers. While not terribly ancient, the palace is decorated in traditional Moroccan motifs, but does not follow the typical plan of a riad. The palace contains a grand harem, the women's quarters, which apparently was needed for the vizier's four wives and many concubines!
A Wonderful place to visit. Nice and quiet away from the noise of Marrakesh roads.
The mosiac designs on the floor and walls are beautiful and the paintings on the woodwork are colourful, Many arch ways around the Palace.
Nobody gives you any hassle to show you around, you can just walk around at your own leisure.
Admission is 10 dirhams less than £1
Well worth a visit.
Click on 4 more photos.
Builded at the end of XIX of great influence of andalucian art, this superwonderful and incredible beautiful palace is an example of what you can find after a normal wall and normal door ...
This first patio, with orange trees and a beautiful andalucian floor is a dream.
8:30 - 11:45, 14:30 - 17:45
Each room have ist own incredible work in arcs, ceiling, walls and floors ... One very special room is the favorite's room. She was not the favorite because it was really the favorite for the sultan ... but because she was the first to have given the sultan a boy. This woman was the only to have more than one member at her service, and the windows of her room had grates to protect her of the envies of the other women.
This great patio was use by the women of the palace. Is where they use to have their place to walk. This patio is surrounding by more womans rooms and at one of it sides you can fin another patio that was the access to the palace for men and children. Separated this two patios by a door and wood windows that where closed by the side of men.
The Bahia Palace, built in the late 19th century, is a superb example of Moroccan-Islamic architecture. The layout of the complex, with its courtyards and mazes of rooms, is typical of the style. The palace has been well restored and maintained, and its gorgeous tiles and carvings are quite impressive.
One of the most pleasing design features of this palace is the views it gives from one space into another. Often, you can stand in one spot and have your eyes drawn through several perfectly-placed doorways that frame an architectural feature beyond.
Don’t miss this beautiful palace. It’s another good example of Moroccan architecture (decoration with tiles, fountains, carved-ceddar ceilings, gardens).
Entrance fee : 10 Dh (+/- 1 euro)
Sat.-Thur. : 8:30-11:15 a.m. and 2:30-5:45 p.m., Fri : 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 3:00-5:45 p.m.
The Bahia Palace originally was built by a so called ‘grand vizier’ (a kind of a prime minister) in 1866/67 and later – in the 1890’s - extended by his son Bou Ahmed, self a ‘grand vizier’ and also regent to the sultan. Bahia Palace means ‘brilliance’, although I also heard the name ‘Palace of the Favourite’. Bou Ahmed lived in the house with his 4 wives and a lot of concubines, servants and guards. After the extension it had about 150 rooms, 2 patios and 1 central courtyard, named ‘Harem Courtyard’. As all Moroccan palaces it is enclosed by an impressive wall.
When visiting the tourist sites in the southern medina the Bahia Palace is a ‘must see’ destination. After entering the gate (and paying the entrance fee of 10 Dirhams) we walked through the garden - with some nice flowering Christmas Stars - and reached the palace.
The whole palace is a sequence of riads, salons and rooms. All of them are richly decorated with stunning stucco work, mosaic zellij tiles on the floors ands walls, painted panels, beautiful doorways, nice fireplaces. But the cedar wooden ceilings in one of the first salons were stunningly beautiful and our favourite.
The ‘Harem Courtyard’ is rather simple and the surrounding wooden buildings can use some fresh painting.
We really enjoyed our visit to the Moroccan palace and I think by visiting the Bahia Palace one gets a good impression of the Moroccan-Islamic architecture. Be aware the palace is not a ‘real’ museum and all the rooms are completely empty.
Saturday – Thursday: 8.45 – 11.45am and 2.45 – 5.45pm.
Friday: 8.45 – 11.30am and 3.00 – 5.45pm
Entrance fee (Dec. 2007): 10 Dirhams.
This palace was built in the 1890's by Bou Ahmed to house his family and retinue of 4 wives, 24 concubines and countles children. The architecture reflects the Muslim need for privacy with rambling rooms, eloborate reception halls, living quarters and pleasure gardens, fountains etc.
The ruling Sultan, Abdel Aziz took displeasure with Ahmed for having the palace and upon his death had the palace looted.
We enjoyed our visit to this palace, which still retains beautiful tiling and other examples of Moroccan craftmanship.
I just adore the Bahia Palace and make a point of going on each trip.
Whilst is it invariably overcrowded and a little run down, the architecture is great and there's a very friendly resident tortoishell cat.
What I love most about it is its tangible connection to Edith Wharton, one of my favourite writers. She stayed as a guest in the harem when the palace was still used as a residence. She talks about her stay in "In Morocco" and, following her description, you can easily work out in which room she stayed.
Palais De La Bahia is a private palace dating to the 19th century. With decorated rooms and ceilings, mosaic fireplaces, beautiful gardens and patios, Palais De La Bahia was the prettiest place we saw in Marrakech. Even had a harem!