Bahia Palace

The black slave Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed rose to power and became the vizier (high-ranking political advisor) towards the end of the 19th century. He then ordered the embellishment and expansion of the Bahia palace by recruiting craftsmen from Fez. The process took 14 years. Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed lived in the palace with four wives, 24 concubines and daughters and sons.

The palace integrates the Islamic architecture with Moroccan style. It is filled with sculpted and painted wooden ceilings and walls, as well as coloured glass windows. There is also a 2-acre garden.

The palace is divided into different rooms. Four rooms which are equal in size are dedicated to Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed’s four wives, symbolising equal status among them. His 24 concubines shared 12 double rooms. There are also a “private school” and a mosque for his children to learn and pray. There is even a hall for businesses and administrative purposes.

Today, an area of 8 acres of the palace is open to the public, which includes 150 rooms. By visiting the Bahia Palace, you will get to know how luxurious the life of the family of a top Moroccan official was a century ago. 

Jardin Majorelle

Many people know and love the brand founded by the foremost French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. However, do you know what the famous designer loved?

Jardin Majorelle was a garden designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle, who devoted himself to it for almost 40 years. The garden was abandoned after his death and was purchased by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1980s. Saint Laurent refurbished the garden and was fascinated by the beauty of it. It then became his favourite place of all time. After Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the Jardin Majorelle, making himself a part of the garden under the North African sun.

The garden is painted in vibrant colours, dominated by Majorelle Blue. It is also filled with beautiful plants such as bamboos and tropical plants. Besides appreciating the plants and architecture, you can also take a break in the bookstore, café or souvenir store. If you have ample time, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum nearby worth a visit. It is where you can admire the masterpieces of this great artist and designer.

Medina of Marrakesh

The lane on the north side of Jemaa el-Fnaleads into medina (old town) of Marrakesh, where you can indulge yourself into exploration without maps and GPS.

In the old town, there are many photo spots, ranging from restaurants, cafés, shisha bars, to traditional photographic studios, museums and historic buildings. All are exquisite and elaborately decorated.

The old town houses several “souqs”, the Arabic name for market. It is frequently used in North African and West Asian cities. After the word has been spread to Europe, it is sometimes spelt “souk”. A variety of goods are available for sale in the souqs, including spices, grilled meats, lamps, carpets and groceries.

Jemaa el-Fna

Jemaa el-Fna, of which the origin of the name is unclear and people’s interpretation of it differs. Some say that it means "the Mosque at the End of the World", referring to an unfinished mosque that fell into ruins. Others say that it means“the assembly of the dead" or "the assembly of death", referring to public executions on the square in the mid-11th century.

Jemaa el-Fna is undoubtedly the busiest place in Marrakesh since the foundation of the city. It is full of hustle and bustle, especially at night. Besides story-tellers, there are also acrobats, mime artists and performers of traditional Berber music. There are even youths with chained Barbary apes and snake charmers, giving morally controversial performances.  

In the past, story-tellers were the predominant entertainer in the square. They told their tales and history interestingly and vividly, passing on the cultural heritage of the city. In 2001, the square, termed “cultural space”, was listed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Ben Youssef Madrasa

The inscription over the entrance to Ben Youssef Madrasa reads, “You who enter my door, may your highest hopes be exceeded.” Over the past six centuries, students studied the Quran under this blessing.

Located in the north of medina (old town) of Marrakesh, the madrasa was founded in the 14th century under the Marinids. Yet, most of its existing buildings were built in the mid-16th century. Ben Youssef Madrasa was originally established to rival that in Fez, but it turned out to be two to three times bigger than the latter. It was also one of the largest theological institutes in North Africa.

The madrasa was later closed and reopened to the public as a tourist attraction in the 1980s. Entering the madrasa, you will see a typical Islamic courtyard with the famous reflection pool. Surrounding the courtyard are student dormitory cells, galleries and prayer halls. There are also elaborated mosaic decorations on the walls, floors and archways.

Note that the madrasa is closed for restoration until 2020. Please check the schedule for reopening before travelling.