After our constant failures to get inside The Koutoubia Mosque, we decided to move on to bigger and better. We were told that existed 2 beautiful Palaces we could visit in Marrakech. So we went ahead and with our non-optimized sense of direction we eventually made it to the Bahia Palace that enchanted us with its beautiful never ending gardens and their exquisite decorated walls, ceilings and floors with colorful Moroccan tiles. The Bahia Palace was built in the 19th century and it is considerably well preserved. The entrance to the Palace cost 10 Dirhams which is approximately 1 US dollar. The palace looked so vast it was easy to get sidetracked admiring the enchanting beauty of its architecture. The carefully crafted doors, the immense mirrors, the fairy-tale-like fountains, the implacable white walls. I walked perplexed, daydreaming of the days the palace was alive, feeling like a queen, admiring the beauty that surrounded me. Every now and then the tourists would give me a reality check. No I was not a queen. I was a traveler experiencing the past of the Moroccan History. One could easily agree this palace was built by Morocco’s top artisans. The Bahia (The Beautiful) suits this Palace perfectly for a name.
Finding the Badi Palace seemed like a hide and seek game also. Someone hid the Badi Palace and we were looking for clues on the walls, on the road, on people’s words that we could not understand. The entrance of the Palace stood in Place des Ferblantiers and had its name written on top of the left wall of the entrance and right below one could read Arabic inscriptions that we guessed was the translation of the name. It took us a few failed times of exchange of information with the ticket attendant to understand we had to pay 10 Dirhams to enter the Palace. A moroccan man we talked to while walking through the Medina had told us earlier that we could enter both palaces with the same ticket. Or at least that is what we thought the man meant. Another failed exchange of information and many more were to come.
Walking inside of the Palace felt like being taken back into the Islamic Golden Age that inspired the “One Thousand and One Nights”. Tall red walls in ruins with big arches as doors surrounded us and after the doors a vast area that ended surrounded by more tall red walls that one could see in the horizon. Another time the vast area in ruins was part of the gardens of what one day was a magnificent Palace. We walked through every one of the 25 years it took to build the Badi Palace : “The incomparable”,getting lost in the many dungeons, stables and pavilions that in another time were lavish summer houses. The most impressive part of the castle was the long lake in front of one of the summer houses and the view from one of the roof areas of one of the sides of the castle. Storks had claimed their territory in many of the tower-like areas of the castle, building their huge nests and flying around giving the castle another touch of mystery. Closing my eyes and imagining what that place could have been adorned with gold, turquoise, onyx and beautiful moroccan tiles seemed like the most exquisite dream a Queen could ever dream and now it is all in ruins. The most lavish display of the best craftsmanship of the Saadian period was in ruins. Beautiful Ruins. Nothing lasts forever.