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The Bahia Palace

Bahia, or ‘The Beautiful,’ was built in the 19th century by the very best of Morocco’s craftsmen and is the blueprint for opulent Islamic style.

TravelCurious Tip

Like several historic sites in the Medina, signposting here is minimal so take a guided tour if you want to learn more about the history of the rooms.

The Beautiful

Built initially under Grand Vizier Si Moussa in the 1860s, Bahia Palace’s embellishments were completed by Vizier Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed, a one-time slave who housed his 24 concubines and four wives in the palace’s harem. Both in scale and in its intricate decoration, Bahia Palace is truly dazzling.

The palace comprises around 150 lavishly ornamented rooms, and two enclosed gardens or riads. Visitors enter through an arcaded courtyard to the smaller riad, which is decorated with stucco and carved cedarwood; at the heart of the palace is the large riad, alive with orange, jasmine and cypress trees filled with songbirds. The surrounding halls feature magnificent zellij (mosaic) fireplaces and painted and ceilings with exquisite marquetry. It is difficult to overstate how impressive a residence this is: the most talented artisans were at work here for 14 years.


Gilding the lily

While not all of the palace’s rooms are accessible, the spectacular harem is open to the public. The chambers of Ahmed’s favourite Lalla Zineb are the most impressive, with a ceiling painted with bouquets of roses, beautiful stained-glass windows and woven silk panels.

The palace was stripped bare on Ahmed’s death, and the French, impressed after they had visited the warlord Pasha Glaoui here in 1908, claimed it for themselves in 1911 as the residence of their Commissioner General. The rooms as seen today are absent of any furnishings and consequently rather empty, but it’s not hard to imagine the place in its heyday - and the humbling effect it would have had on visitors.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Marrakech
Djemaa El Fna Square
Teeming with dancers, musicians and snake-charmers, this chaotic plaza is the beating heart of Marrakech.
The Medina
Enclosed by ancient walls, the oldest quarter of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret
The largest mosque in the city, Koutoubia’s minaret has inspired architecture throughout North Africa.
Saadian Tombs
This ornate mausoleum was built in the 16th century as the final resting place of the Saadi dynasty.
Ben Youssef Medersa
A koranic theological college, the Medersa is often labelled the most beautiful building in Marrakech - quite an accolade.
The Almoravid Koubba
Just south of the Ben Youssef Mosque, this small shrine is the oldest monument in Marrakech.

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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