El Badi Palace

Enough remains of these stunning ruins to glimpse the meaning behind its name – 'the Incomparable.'

TravelCurious Tip

Look out for nesting storks on the palace walls.

The Incomparable

Originally commissioned in 1578 by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, El Badi was a bold endeavour of magnificent mosaics, gilding and jewels. Today, little survives apart from mosaic fragments, a vast 90 metre pool and crumbling walls, but the sheer scale of the ruins contains a lingering sense of grandeur.

Al-Mansur, who is interred with other members of his dynasty in the nearby Saadian Tombs (their lavish decoration survives, giving a hint at the original appearance of El Badi), was succeeded by Moulay Ismail. Ismail spent a full decade stripping El Badi of its riches.

‘This will make a magnificent ruin’

On the occasion of the state opening of the palace, Al-Mansur reportedly asked his court jester for an opinion on the finished product. ‘This will make a magnificent ruin,’ he quipped, 75 years before the palace was indeed reduced to a shadow of its former self.

Standing atop its ramparts today, you are privy to fantastic views. Perhaps the most spectacular individual remnant of the old palace is the original minbar, or pulpit, of Koutoubia Mosque. It sits in a pavilion in a corner of El Badi’s main courtyard, and features intricately inlaid cedarwood steps and 12th century Cordoban calligraphy, which took 8 years to complete and only partially survives. At one point the minbar was one of the most highly regarded artworks in the Muslim world. Visitors are often not allowed to closely inspect it, but you may get lucky.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Marrakech
The Medina
Enclosed by ancient walls, the oldest quarter of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site.
A labyrinth of spices, food and eye-catching goods, these bustling markets are the colourful essence of Morocco.
Majorelle Gardens
Built by French artist and flora expert, Jacques Majorelle, his gardens are one of the city’s most visited and beloved sites.
Tagine is a traditional North African Berber dish, named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked.
Communal Bread Ovens
Most homes in the medina don’t have the luxury of an oven, so bread is baked communally instead.
Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret
The largest mosque in the city, Koutoubia’s minaret has inspired architecture throughout North Africa.

Related Tours

The Best of Marrakech: Private Half-Day Highlights Tour
Experience the exotic sights, smells, and sounds of Marrakech, a thrumming, vivid city in Western Morocco, famous for its imperial past and Moorish minaret of the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque. 

On your private tour, you will:

  • Discover the fascinating roots of this former Imperial City with its grand dome-topped mosques, towering minarets, lavish gardens, and medieval walls;
  • Enjoy the buzz of the Bazaar and its maze of cobbled alleyways where crowds gather around stalls of richly woven rugs, coffee pots, jewellery, and shawls;
  • Admire the Royal Residences at Bahia Palace still used by Morocco’s King as you explore the luxuriously appointed ornate rooms that once housed the Vizier Ahmed’s 4 wives and 24 concubines;
  • Marvel at the Ancient Tombs - a stark contrast to the palace's opulence;
  • Wander through the crumbling remains of nearby Badi Palace once home to royalty;
  • Explore the spooky atmosphere of the darkened necropolis of ancient Marrakech’s mausoleums, the elaborately carved Saadian Tombs;
  • Stroll past beautiful mosaic-clad riads and leafy courtyards as you soak up Marrakech’s ambience;
  • Visit the famed towering spire of the Koutoubia minaret from which the melodic calls to prayer sound five times daily, to draw worshipers into the Mosque.

Founded around 1062 by the Almoravids, Marrakech has been home to Berbers since the Neolithic era, and is one of Morocco’s four Imperial Cities, along with Méknes, Fes and Rabat. By the 12th century, it had become the capital of the Almohad caliphate sprawling across Africa and encompassing Spain. 

During this period, Marrakech was blessed with its thick, red sandstone walls - an architectural influence carved with great domes and arches that blended styles from the Sahara and West Africa to create a unique, fine-looking settlement dubbed the “Red City”. 

Over the centuries, Marrakech flourished as a cultural, religious and trading centre, the home of wealthy sultans, chic French colonists, vast palatial complexes and opulent mansions. Today, the French language is still spoken by many Moroccans. 

During the 1950s and 1960s, Marrakech became a Shangri-La for curious pleasure-seekers, beat poets, writers and rock legends who sought spiritual enlightenment on a pilgrimage along the so-called hippy trail. Today this Kasbah city evokes a magical mix of an aged past and forward-thinking present, blending European influences and moderate ideologies with a proud Islamic heart that still beats to an ancient rhythm. 

Marrakech may be home to some of the world’s most sumptuous small hotels yet it uses a thousand-year-old irrigation system and it is these seductive contrasts that make it such an alluring city.
Marrakech in a Day: Private All-Inclusive Full-Day Tour
Experience the exhilarating riot of sights, sounds and smells of the ancient city of Marrakech. Bubbling with irrepressible energy, Marrakech is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. Filled with UNESCO World Heritage designated palaces, mosques and markets it is situated on the edge of the Sahara Desert and nestled at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. 

On your private full-day tour, you will:

  • Enjoy the personal attention of your expert private guide, with private transport included throughout;
  • Immerse yourself in the historic yet buzzing atmosphere of the souks, cobblestone alleyways, palaces and mosques of the Medina before seeking out the tranquil, sweet-smelling gardens beyond the walls;
  • Pass outside the city’s largest mosque, the highly-decorated Koutoubia Mosque with its 77-metre minaret (253 feet);
  • See the fortune-tellers, snake charmers, poets, and storytellers on the historic square Jemma el Fna; 
  • Discover the cultural importance of Marrakech’s UNESCO World Heritage sites;
  • Visit the Bahia Palace ‘The Beautiful’ (tickets included) a stunning, and sprawling, architectural masterpiece in the heart of the Medina, built in the 19th century;
  • Watch the silk spinners, spice sellers, rug stalls and basket weavers at work in the Souks of the Medina;
  • Have a go at haggling in the souks! 
  • Wander around the beautifully preserved ruins of the 16th-century El Badi Palace, constructed for Sultan, Ahmad al-Mansur, of the Saadian dynasty (tickets included);
  • Visit the only surviving remains of the Saadian dynasty (1524-1659), and admire the intricately decorated sepulchres of the Saadian Tombs;
  • Learn about the construction of the ramparts using Pisé, a reddish-pink clay, which glows spectacularly in the setting sun;
  • Enjoy the enchanting gardens of Jardin Majorelle created by French painter Jacques Majorelle (tickets included);
  • Finish back at your hotel, or drop off at a central location of your choice.

Marrakech is where Europe, Africa and the Middle East intermingle in an exhilarating riot of noise, smells and colour that defines the character of the great city of the Maghreb. Founded a thousand years ago, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, it is famous for the colourful pinkish hues of its walls and palaces, framed dramatically by the surrounding snow-dusted peaks of the High Atlas Mountains. 

Your full-day private tour of Marrakech begins in the historic Medina, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. Wander through the puzzle of historic streets, and maze of cobbled back alleys; experience the vibrant hustle and bustle and bartering at the souks, and the displays of street charmers, fortune-tellers and poets at the renowned Jemma el-Fna. Step back in time as you witness the mules towing pushcarts piled high with saleable wares, and admire the fine historic palaces juxtaposed to these street scenes. 

You will visit the renowned Koutoubia Mosque, the Bahia Palace ‘the Beautiful’, and the ruins of the Badi Palace and the Saadian Tombs. You’ll also pass by the famous Ben Youssef Medersa, all of them steeped in ancient stories. 

After lunch, take a luxury private transfer to the Majorelle Gardens (tickets included). 
This is a stunning and unique 2.5-acre garden designed and created over a period of 40 years by the French artist Jacques Majorelle. Wander through this tranquil place with its marble pools, banana trees, cubist villa, coconut palms, raised pathways and peaceful groves of bamboo: a tranquil contrast to the sights and sounds of the morning!  Your guide and driver can return you to your hotel or drop you off at a location of your choice. 


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