Morocco got plenty of Botanical Gardens, but nothing looks or feel the same as Menara Gardens, which is located just to the west of Marrakech, close to the airport. This historical garden is a garden that is best visited if you are thirsty for some Islamic history.
The Short Tourist Guide to Morocco: Menara Gardens of Marrakech
1. The Grand Basin
There is a basin in Menara that is by far the biggest pool the people of Morocco has ever seen. The pool is basically one large basin that is filled with water at sometimes, and it can be pretty overwhelming to look at first. When you are done absorbing the view, the next thing you can do is to take a stroll by the basin. There is nothing much to do here, but the walk is pretty nice if you can bear it. Truly an amazing place to spend your time on if you do not have anything better to do.
2. The Pavilion
This is the reason why this place is called the Menara Gardens. You see, Menara means lighthouse of a sort, and while the building itself is not a lighthouse, the locals call this building a Menara because it stands as tall as a lighthouse. Strange reasoning aside, the building is a sight to behold for those looking to get a look at Islamic architecture. There is nothing much to learn for the common people, but historians and potential architect might find something interesting from the building's exterior.
3. The Inside of The Pavilion
The building might look pretty simple on the outside, but you need to take a look at the inside of the building to truly appreciate what Menara Gardens is all about. Inside the pavilion is a beautifully decorated ceiling that mirrors those found in Bahia Palace. The ceiling tells of stories yore, and they are arts of their own accord. Historians will find the place a nice place to look at, but the common mass might not be that interested in it and might even find the place quite underwhelming. The pavilion is a very old building, already standing since the 12th century, so some parts can look pretty old.
4. A stroll by the olive grove
Surrounding the grand basin is an olive grove that is filled with, well, olives. The olive grove is basically one giant plantation that gets its water from the basin. Here, you can go for a walk by the grove and marvel at the many olive trees. If you seek protection from the sun, the olive trees can also be a good place to do so.
5. Feed The Fish by The Basin
While the basin is a source of irrigation for the olive grove, that does not mean that there is no life to be found within the basin. The basin is home to many fishes, and you are allowed to feed the fish provided you do not throw something that can be poisonous to them. Many people do this in the garden, especially when they have nothing better to do.
6. The Camel Ride
There is a camel ride that you can hire if you want to feel what it is like to ride atop a camel. This is basically just the same as any horse ride you might have ridden, but instead of a horse, you get to ride camels this time. Some people are attracted to the idea, some people do not. If you are more of the first kind, then this should be exhilarating.
How to Get Tickets?
If you are here to enjoy the basin only, there is no fee involved. You can take a walk around the basin and the grove for free. If you are here to visit the pavilion, you need to pay a small sum of 10 Dirham. The camel rides come with the fee, though, and you might have to negotiate with the owner.
How To Get Around?
By foot or by camel rides. You cannot bring any motorized vehicle here because it will ruin the surrounding area.
What Should I Wear?
Because Morocco is pretty hot, it is suggested for you to wear clothes that can protect your skin from direct contact with the sunlight. Tradition and religious law also dictate that you must not wear something that shows too much skin. Sandals are fine but do not be surprised if you found yourself with tanned feet later.
Best Time to Visit
In the morning or in the afternoon, just after the sun is past its highest point. This is because when the sun is up high, the air would be very humid thanks to the evaporation. Visiting the place in the morning and in the afternoon is also a sure way of avoiding heat strokes. If you are wondering about in which season you should visit the place, then winter is the only answer. In summer, the basin will be dry. In summer, the gardens would lose one of its major attraction. You can also see a visage of the mountain by the winter, adding to the list of the things you should see in the gardens.
Will I Need a Guide?
Again, it depends on your French. If you are a native French or if you are skilled in French, a guide is never necessary because you can just read the description. If you are an Englishman or if you are someone who can only speak English, then you will definitely need a guide to help you with the pavilion. If you are only planning to visit the garden, you do not need a guide, no matter if you are a French or Englishmen.
How To Get There?
Menara is located pretty close to the airport, so if you take the bus that can lead you to the airport, you will arrive at this place easily. Take bus number 19. Avoid the taxis because many of them are scammers. If you insist on taking the taxi, take the ones that are old. Less chance of them scamming you that way.
The gardens can be a bit of a hit and miss for people. Some people like this place and some people think that this place has the most disgusting man-made basin ever. If you are still suspicious about the authenticity of this place, there is the only thing for you to do: visit the place and take a look around the basin. If the thing is to your liking, then explore further. If it is not, you can just leave.