The tombs of Saadians | The great dynasty that ruled Marrakech, Morocco
Located in the heart of the Kasbah of Marrakech in Morocco, south of the famous square of Jamaa El Fna, the Saadian Tombs are a royal necropolis dating from the time of Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansur Saadi (1549-1603), sixth sultan of the Saadian dynasty. The dynasty which reigned on the golden age of Marrakech between 1524 to 1659.
Visiting the Saadian Tombs allows you to go back to the time of the golden age of the Saadian dynasty, which reigned over Morocco between 1524 and 1659. Since their rediscovery and restoration, this site continues to fascinate international tourists who have come to visit Marrakech , captivated by the beauty and refinement of the decorations.
History of the Saadian tombs
The history of the Saadian tombs goes back to the beginning of the 14th century, when a first building began to be used as a necropolis. In 1557, Prince Mohamed Cheikh was buried there. His son, Sultan Ahmed El Mansour had the building enlarged and the building embellished by building the koubba "Lalla Mseouada", named after his mother. She herself will be buried there in 1591 with the 3 successors of the sultan. It was the golden age period of Marrakech, which lasted from 1524 to 1659.
The Saadian tombs monument is currently one of the only remains of the Saadian dynasty. A small power from the Dra region, not far from Ouarzazate, the Saadians took advantage of the break-up of the Moroccan tribes at that time, before the rise of the Spanish and the Portuguese. The Saadians impose themselves on Morocco as a great reigning force by winning several battles, and take Marrakech in 1524, then Fez.
The Saadians extended their influence during the 16th century following the battle of the 3 kings. Ahmed El Mansour, known as "Ahmed the Golden" reigned for 25 years, undertook military expeditions to Mauritania, and made Morocco a rich power. With gold and wealth plundered during battles, he embellished the city of Marrakech, including the Saadian Tombs.
After the decline of the Saadians and the seizure of power by the less expensive Alawites, the Saadian power fell and the tombs fell into disuse. At the beginning of the 18th century, Sultan Moulay Ismaïl indeed decided to remove all traces of the magnificence of this dynasty by destroying all the remaining vestiges. However, he did not dare to commit the sacrilege to destroy their graves and ordered that the entrance to the necropolis be walled up. The secret remained well kept until 1917, when the location of the Saadian tombs was rediscovered.
What to see and what to do at the Saadian tombs
In all, the mausoleum consists of 3 rooms. What you must see when coming to visit the Saadian tombs of Marrakech is the room of the twelve columns. This is where the burial place of Sultan Ahmed El Mansour is topped, with a dome in Atlas cedar wood, whose stuccos are richly worked.
The Saadian tombs are decorated in Carrara marble from Italy. Take a look at the meticulous decorations that adorn the walls and columns in Hispano-Moorish style, the dominant art of the 16th century in Morocco. Also, certain royal graves are decorated with a poetic epitaph, notably that of Princess Zorha. We can read there: "Here is the tomb of the noble lady, new moon, wonder of virtues".
After the room with 12 columns, go through the chapel, then do not miss the outdoor gardens. From there, observe the storks, which like to come and install their nest there, at the entrance of the site. The Saadian tombs and their gardens were restored in the 1920s and what we see today allows us to really immerse ourselves in an old-fashioned era, in the modern era (16th-17th centuries).
If you like history, visiting the Saadian tombs is a must. As such, we advise you to visit with a guide, who will inform you about the period and the life of the personalities buried in the mausoleum. The monument is located 100 meters west of El Badi Palace, and near the Kasbah Mosque.
GOOD TO KNOW
Guided tours are available to visit the Saadian tombs.
Plan a half-day to combine the visit of the mausoleum, Place Jemaa El Fna, the mosque of the Kasbah.
Not far, do not miss to stroll in the souks of the old market of the Medina.