Marrakech is home to many palaces, both open and operating and historical museums including the Bahia Palace. You probably won’t be able to finagle an invitation to the royal palace but you can wander among the ruins of a place that once was spectacular.
Brief History of Bahia Palace
Sandwiched between the Mellah (Jewish Quarter), the Medina (the old city), and the Kasbah (where the royal employees once lived) is the Bahia Palace. Close to 150 elaborate rooms make up the palace, and this includes a large harem section next to the Court of Honor.
When compared with other monuments and even homes in Marrakech it’s not that old. It was built in the late 19th century in a style that attempted to capture Moroccan and Islamic styles in one building.
Moroccan royalty never lived in this palace but it was home to Si Moussa the man who managed the household of the sultan. His son later took over the position and enlarged the palace. However, when Bou Ahmed (son of Si Moussa) died, the servants ransacked the palace. Under the later French protectorate, the palace was restored and was home to the French Resident-General.
Moroccan royalty never lived in this palace but it was home to Si Moussa the man who managed the household of the sultan. His son later took over the position and enlarged the palace. However when Bou Ahmed (son of Si Moussa) died, the servants ransacked the palace. Under the later French protectorate the palace was restored and was home to the French Resident General.
What to Expect at Bahia Palace
Here’s the downside – don’t expect to see the palace how it was. It’s completely empty. Admire the woodwork, the tiles, and bring a healthy dose of imagination to think of how it might have once looked.
When you visit, be on the lookout for the courtyard, gardens, and architecture. The courtyard has a white Carrara marble floor with water features. The gardens have a mix of orange blossoms and an extensive vegetable garden. The architecture has a mix of both Andalusian and Moorish style.
One of the best things about visiting – and especially in the summer months – is that the interior is naturally cool.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Bahia Palace is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an entrance fee of 70 dirhams. Keep in mind this may be subject to change and closures may happen during royal visits and other events.
I recommend setting aside 1-2 hours for walking through and enjoying what the palace has to offer. Although you can walk through at your own pace, there are tour guides available. These guides are locals who are knowledgeable and able to explain the history.
Also worth noting is the Bahia Palace doesn’t have a dress code; however, I always recommend that women dress modestly with a skirt (or trousers) past the knee and covered shoulders. This is typically advisable anywhere in Morocco. Men should wear longer shorts and at minimum a t-shirt.