Built in the 19th century, Bahia Palace is a palace dedicated to showing the essence of Islam and Morocco. It was built with the intention of turning it into the greatest palace in the century, evident from its delicate craft and well-thought layout. It was once the house of Si Moussa, the grand vizier of the Sultan and his harem. Now, it has turned into a palace worthy of a visit for those wanting to learn more about Islamic architecture.
The Bahia Palace: Things to do Near the Islamic Wonder
1. The Mosaic Glasses
Bahia Palace is a popular palace thanks to its beauty. Its beauty stems from the many wonderful small things the Palace has, and one of those small things are the mosaic glasses. Mosaic glasses is a sort of decorative glasses that are made in many colours. They usually tell stories, just like any painting would, and they are a boon to the tired eyes. In the Palace, you would find many glasses that tells of old stories and caricatures to boot. If you are an art freak, the glasses would certainly help you adore Islamic arts.
2. The Small Riad
The small riad is a nice name for a small garden by the palace. The garden itself is not that magnificent, but what is nice about are the three rooms (or salons, if you prefer) that are beautifully decorated. Inside these three rooms are wood ceilings that are intricately painted to serve as a sight. The carved stucco that decorated the salons are also a nice thing to look at. This place is definitely one reason why Bahia Palace was hailed as one of the most decorated palaces of its time.
3. The Great Courtyard
This is the place that adorns the photo books of many travellers. The great courtyard is essentially a big courtyard that is paved with the best of Italian marbles. With the Carrara marbles on your feet, the courtyard is definitely a good, simple place to enjoy what the palace has to offer. The courtyard also houses another thing that is photo worthy. That thing is the courtyard fountain, a large fountain that decorates the centre of the courtyard. If taking photos is your preferred method of storing the good memories, the fountain is a good place to do so.
4. The Large Riad
Contrary to the small riad, the large riad is its own attraction. In this garden, you can see a whole lot of trees that will shade you from the evil sun that flies atop Morocco. The trees, all of the exotic fruits such as oranges, jasmine, and bananas, work together to create a perfectly natural look amidst the surrounding marbles and stones. It is the spot of green in the middle of the whites, and it proves to be one of the more popular resting spots for tourists and locals who roamed the palace. Like the small riad before, the large one is also surrounded by salons that are beautifully decorated.
5. The Harem Rooms
The term harem has a bad ring to it, but you do not need to worry because the harem rooms are not exactly rooms where the grand vizier and his harem had orgies. It is a room made for the vizier's concubines. It is pretty normal for an Islamic ruler to have many concubines and many wives back then, so it is also pretty normal to have lots of harem rooms in the palace. The palace got a total of 150 rooms, after all.
6. The room of Lalla Zinab
Lalla Zinab's room is the most beautifully decorated rooms out of the many rooms in the palace. Many rooms got decorated stained glasses, but this room takes it to the next level by being the most beautifully decorated stained glass of all the palace. The mosaics mentioned above have nothing in comparison to this one.
How to Get Tickets?
Bahia Palace is a cheap place for its beauty. All you need to pay is 10 Dirhams and you will be permitted entry to the palace ground. Pretty cheap considering that the other venues might cost you somewhere around 50 to 100 Dirhams.
How To Get Around?
Always on foot. The palace is designed to be enjoyed on foot. While the 19th century got cars already, never once did any palace designer designed a palace to be able to fit cars or any other modern transportation.
What Should I Wear?
Clothes that complied to the Islamic and the Moroccan law, which is pretty synchronous these last few centuries. If you feel like being defiant and wear something revealing, you would also feel the Moroccan heat that could leave you with a heat stroke. If you have the audacity to disrespect the locals, at the very least you can respect your health.
Best Time to Visit
In the morning, at 9 when the palace opens. In the morning, Marrakech is not that hot and the palace is still a bit empty, meaning you can see everything in the palace without having to face the crowd that can be obnoxious at times.
Will I Need a Guide?
If your French is good, then no. If your French is not good, you should hire a guide. It is a well-known fact that not many former French colonies use English (even until now. French people can be so hard headed sometimes) in anything. Everything in the palace was written in French, so if your French skill is bad or is even nonexistent, you would find it hard to enjoy the stories that the palace has to tell. Remember to tip the guide because it is customary to do so in here.
How To Get There?
Getting there is as easy as going taking a bus. From the airport, go on a bus that will take you to Jemaa el-Fnaa. From there, just take rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid. In French, rue means street, so it should be St Riad Zitoun el Jdid in English. The palace will be just around the corner.
There is nothing else to be added aside from the fact that the palace can get a bit empty for some. The palace once housed many furniture and decorations, but when the Vizier died, his wives and the sultan took them away, leaving some of the rooms bare. The decorative ceilings are still intact to this day, though, which is reason enough to visit the palace.