Menara Gardens, Marrakesh
The Menara Gardens were built in the 12th century by the Almohad ruler Abd al-Mu'min. The name menara derives from the pavillon with its small green pyramid roof (menzeh). The pavilion was built during the 16th century by the Saadi dynasty. It was renovated in 1869 by Sultan Abderrahmane of Morocco, who used to stay here in summertime.
The gardens themselves are free, if you could even call them gardens. They consist of rows upon rows of olive trees. There are no flowers, or any other plants nor paths through the trees. If you want to enter the pavilion I think it cost between 5-15 MAD. Which isn't much but it's not worth it. The pavillion is empty and the view from the balcony is of the murky, brown pool in front of it.
While in the gardens you will be harrassed to buy cheap clothing, tacky souvenirs and camel rides. The Menara Gardens are open daily between 8:00 and 19:00.
This is a well photgraphed site in Marrakech appearing on all the postcards in all it's glory. My photos were not even worth the space on my memory card. The only saving grace is that this garden is a stop on the Bus Touristique so I didn't waste the taxi fare to get there.
My taxi stopped outside the gates to this park, There wasn't much to see from the roadside, a bit of a wilderness.
Admission free. A long wide boulevard edged with olive groves leads to the pool and pavillion, which are the centrepieces of the gardens. Further on were palm trees and citrus trees.
The large still pool reflects the pavillion, which was built around 1866 allegedly for the Sultan to woo his mistress! Apparently there was a similar pavillion at the opposite end of the pool.
The park was once for the private use of the Sultans and his A list friends, and although the park is now for public use, you can't enter the pavillion.
I visited on a Sunday, it was quite popular with families taking a stroll, and groups of teenage girls walking along arm in arm singing, or taking photos of each other.
In all the tourist guide posters the snow covered High Atlas Mountains are clearly visible as a backdrop to the pavillion, but during my stay a haze prevented a clear view.
A pleasant cafe is situated opposite the pavillion, and there were some shops but they were closed.
The gardens stage a music and light show most evenings, though I thought it was a bit too cold to brave it. (see my nightlife tips for more info)
It's a bit of a hike out to the Menara Gardens but it’s well worth it, especially on a hot day, when you need to escape the stifling heat of the city centre. There’s a large Agdal (water basin) at the centre of the gardens, with a distinctive Minzah at one end. On a fine day you can see the Atlas mountains in the distance and the view of the mountains from the Menara Gardens is one of the finest in Marrakech. To get here, leave the medina by Bab Djedid and walk past Hotel La Mamounia and then along Avenue de la Menara for 2km. A petit taxi will cost from 20 to 25 Dh.
The long avenue Menara leads to the gardens of Menara. Symbole of Marrakech, in the same measure as minaret of Koutoubia, this olive grove of hundred hectares is the right place to take a walk.
The big basin in the middle reflect an elegant saadian hall which sheltered the rendez-vous of the sultan. According to the legend, on of the two had a habitude: to throw into the water the last night’s companion.
The Menara gardens are very well known - they are WAY old - the water basin is from the 12th century!!!
When we visited in January, the gardens were not very exciting: a long alley with palm trees and olive trees and then the bassin and the setup for the "sound and light show"..... hmmmmmm, not too exciting!
Well, but it might be different at other times of the year, so this is just my very personal impression from a January visit!
From my journal:
'The Marrakech city tour starts with a visit to Menara Gardens which is a large olive grove with trees 300 years old, and a 600x600 feet pool with an ordinary looking pavilion. Also present is a mediocre snake charmer and lots of souvenir sellers.'
As part of our horse-cart trip we went to Le Menara. This huge bassin is a bit out of town, some 4 kms west of Djema el Fnaa. Free entrance, a pleasant place to have a walk in the evenings to see the sunset. You can feed the fishes that live there, bring some bread.
A famous image of Marrakesh.
Located a bit outside the city (may be 2km from the Koutoubia), this is the perfect place to escape noisy Marrakesh for a while. The gardens are planted with palm and olive trees and behind the pavilion, there is an artificial lake which is used to irrigate the surrounding gardens.
Entrance is free. Spectacles sometimes take place on the water in the evening (entrance fee : 20-45 Dh)
This huge bassin is a bit out of town, some 4 kms west of Djema el Fnaa through the gate next to Mamounia Hotel. A nice walk if it's not too hot. Bus 11 takes you there from the Koutubia too.
Free entrance, a pleasant place to have a walk in the evenings to see the sunset. You can feed the fishes that live there, bring some bread.
As we stood in front of the Koutoubia mosque, Said suggested we go to the Menara Gardens. When we asked him what it was like, we were simply told it was a really big pool...smiling at the reply, we asked if it was far as we preferred walking to the petit taxis or the horse drawn carriages. Not far we were told. After a long walk through the new part of town and without sighting very many interesting things, we finally got there and, indeed, there was a huge pool. The grounds were lovely, but it seems that the pool is the thing to see and like all the other tourists that got their five minutes there, I took a photo of it...
The Hivernage district is a residential area of Marrakech and the second of two main areas of interest in Marrakech. The Hivernage has many expensive hotels as well as the Menara gardens.
These historic gardens are famous for their huge water reservoir, dominated by a green-tiled pavillon. No big sight in my opinion, but a nice place to take a walk and enjoy the scenery.
An artificial lake with a pavilion dating back to the time of the Saadians. Suroundet by gardens.
To be visited at sunset.
The beautiful La Menara gardens with the Atlas mountains in the background. These gardens are located out of town, designed as a summer escape by Sultan Adu r-Rahman.
Ah, the tranquil beauty of the La Menara. And here's a glimpse of the Pavilion.