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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.
Souks
A labyrinth of spices, food and eye-catching goods, these bustling markets are the colourful essence of Morocco.
Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret
The largest mosque in the city, Koutoubia’s minaret has inspired architecture throughout North Africa.
Tagine
Tagine is a traditional North African Berber dish, named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked.
Tangia
A Moroccan speciality, the meat and spices in tangia are traditionally slow-cooked for hours in a public oven.
Communal Bread Ovens
Most homes in the medina don’t have the luxury of an oven, so bread is baked communally instead.

Related Tours

Meandering through the Medina: Private Half Day Highlights Tour inc Transport
As you enter the silent heartlands of the Imlil Valley, bustling Marrakech - just 35 miles away - seems like another world.  The scenery unfolds slowly, passing through the market town of Asni to reach the big skies of the Imlil Valley: an oasis of calm with lush, green plains nourished by meltwater from the mountains peak - a spellbinding sight.  

  • Gain fascinating local insight from a guide with in-depth knowledge of Imlil Valley 
  • Walk at your pace, be it a gentle stop-and-stare or an invigorating upbeat hike. 
  • Learn about the geological make-up of the Atlas Mountains, formed millions of years ago
  • Discover the unique indigenous plants and wildlife that thrive in the Imlil Valley
  • Learn about the Berber communities and how the mountains and climate shape their culture.
  • Drink fresh, sparkling water from a waterfall and discover the purity of meltwater first hand 
  • Enjoy Berber hospitality a share a tagine with a local family in the heart of the valley
  • Enjoy a camel ride the Moroccan way - a unique experience!
  • Learn the societal and economic value of camels in Berber culture 
  • Enjoy immersion in the rural way of life in a remote, wild and raw Moroccan landscape
Few sightseeing experiences are as pleasurable as discovery on foot, with every step a connection between the visitor and the terrain. Forget long-distance glimpses of far-off monuments, or time spent on a tour bus in gridlocked traffic, walking takes you to sights that cars and buses inevitably miss. On this Imil Valley Full Day Excursion you have the freedom to venture off-beat to to explore curious trails and landmarks, stopping at whim to delve into woodlands or crumbling ruins that catch our eye. We will relish the cool mountain air and jaw-dropping bucolic views at around 5,900 ft above sea level. And every step will tread the land of ancient Berber footsteps and allows you to interact with a storied and scenic terrain with a Moroccan breeze in your hair. 

Tucked amongst walnut, cherry, and apple orchards and cascading waterfall-fed streams, Imlil Valley is backdropped by milky blue wispy skies. Small clusters of rustic sun-bleached adobe huts cling to the slopes while snow-dusted Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak, holds court high above a riddle of loose-stone precipitous mule tracks. The Imlil Valley Full Day Excursion will take you to the very heart of the Atlas Mountains where massive layers of rock, formed millions of years ago, lie in crumpled ridges and folds. 
Full Day Tour of Marrakech with private vehicle to the Majorelle Gardens
Step inside this centuries-old trading hub - the first of Morocco's four imperial cities - and the peace and tranquility of the rural landscape abruptly ceases. 

  • Visit the city’s largest mosque, the highly-decorated Koutoubia Mosque with its 77-metre minaret (253 feet) 
  • See fortune tellers, snake charmers, poets, and storytellers on historic square Jemma el Fna 
  • Discover the cultural importance of Marrakech’s UNESCO World Heritage sites  
  • See the silk-spinners, spice-sellers, rug stalls and basket weaves in the Souks of the Medina
  • Marvel at the  ‘palace of the beautiful’ - the Bahia Palace - a masterpiece of Moroccan architecture
  • Learn about the psyche of the Marrakech people and the cultural norms in a city with a population of 1-million
  • Visit the only surviving remains of the Saadian dynasty (1524-1659), the intricately decorated sepulchres of the Saadian Tombs
  • See the Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech’s large madrasa, an Islamic college of religious studies and instruction.
  • Learn about the construction of the ramparts using pisé, a reddish pink clay, which glows spectacularly in the setting sun
  • Relish the enchanting gardens of Jardin Majorelle created by French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) 
  • Marvel at orchards and ponds of Jardin se l’Aguedal, a sultan’s retreat that stretches south of the Royal Palace
 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. Tightly packed, and bubbling with an irrepressible energy, Marrakech is a rarity in a fastly-homogenized world. Founded a thousand years ago, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, its palaces of pinkish hue are backdropped by the snow-dusted peaks of the High Atlas. Crowds nudge, livestock squawks, vendors holler and food stalls spit and billow as snake charmers pipe sweet music next to stalls selling henna tattoos. Marrakech’s history is living, breathing and intoxicating, with the ancient section of the city designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. 

Your full day tour of Marrakech takes an in-depth look at the city on an exploration of its major sites. Discover that although the legendary goods-ladened camels of the trans-Saharan caravans no longer roll through, Marrakech remains a seductive destination, drawing visitors from all over the world to its maze-like medina. Experience skillful bartering in the souks and marvel at the painted hues of red, orange and pink of Marrakesh’s sun-baked monochromatic walls and ramparts. Your stroll around the city takes you past the city’s photogenic doorways, leafy courtyards and mosaic-clad riads. 

Walk through time on the Heart of Marrakech Full Day tour through the bustling square Jemma el-Fna square through a puzzle of streets and alleys, where you will experience first-hand the mules and push carts of the city piled high with wares. Surrounded by fine historic sites, you will also visit the Koutoubia Mosque, the Bahia Palace, the Saadian Tombs and the famous Ben Youssef Medersa, steeped in ancient stories. Though it is just a 15-minute walk from Marrakech’s modern office buildings and nightclubs, the 21st century truly feels a lifetime away. After a delicious Moroccan lunch, explore the beautiful blooms and shrubs the city’s stunning Majorelle and Menara Gardens, in which you will appreciate the fresher, cooler environs. You will also experience the striking contrasts when you visit Marrakech’s new city “Gueliz,” with its stylish wide French-era boulevards and upscale Moroccan and European restaurants. 
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