Le Palais Badi (Marrakech)
All that’s left of the Badia Palace are gargantuan walls topped with stork’s nests, sunken gardens, murky reflecting pools, and foundations of once sumptuous pavilions. For me that’s as it should be. I understand the need for restoration and preservation but a light touch goes a long way. What remains of the guesthouses may not be entirely authentic but I prefer their hinted at foundations to the fully restored Khayzuran Pavilion* which has all the grandeur of a gas station.
And now, I’m going to let the palace speak for itself, because who can resist a building bragging about the size of its walls and the poets and wise men it once seduced?
“I am the incomparable Badia Palace, built by the Saadian sultan Ahmed El Mansour over the course of his reign (1578-1603). Meant for festivities and official audiences with the sovereign, I hosted countless foreign ambassadors, distinguished visitors, wise men, and poets. All were struck by the height and thickness of my walls…, the lavishness of my decor, the size of my pools, and the lushness of my vegetation.”**
The Badia Palace is surprisingly accessible. The terraces are wide and mostly paved and the lack of doors means you don’t have to worry about their widths. The renovated pavilions are not accessible but in time one can hope that this will change as they could easily be ramped. The restroom is not technically accessible but depending on your feelings about privacy and cleanliness it could be used in a pinch.
This place is not splashy and gets short shrift in the guidebooks but was one of my favorite historical sites. I say go. Go, go, go.
I want to remember my trip and share my pictures, maybe encourage and/or discourage others but, at this point, I’ve spent more time writing about Morocco than in Morocco. I’m the here and now sort so what I had for lunch yesterday*** is more interesting to me than monkeys and cobras seen a month ago. That said, I’m going to push on for one more week. Morocco, Morocco and more Morocco.
*According to the plaque in front of the pavilion “Khayzuran” is the common name for wild myrrh. The name refers to the sultan’s harem which may have been the residence of the “beautiful Black favorite of Moulay Ahmed Al Mansour”.
**From a plaque just before the entrance to the palace.
***3,60 €, puff pastry-like thing topped with tomatoes, peppers, two slivers of ham, and a hint of parmesan