Look out for nesting storks on the palace walls.
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.
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.
Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.
Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.