The colorful tiles, intricate carvings, and exotic archways of the Saadian Tombs in Marrakech are exactly what I was hoping for when I booked my trip to Morocco. Every surface around every corner is a piece of art that made me ache to learn the stories and history behind this place.
It’s one of the most popular sights in Marrakech and I had somehow never heard of it before my trip.
So what are the Saadian tombs?
The Saadian Tombs are the graves of the sultans and princes of the Saadian Dynasty that ruled Morocco in the 16th and 17th centuries. The tombs are hidden in the Kasbah by tall rosy colored walls and feature well appointed grounds lined with orange trees and date palms. Along the floors of several ornately designed rooms and of a few outdoor courtyards, you’ll see the tiled grave sites of these powerful men. (each tiled rectangle is a grave)
Yeah I know. You are saying “Ok, that’s terrific. Its a graveyard. So WHY should I visit the Saadian Tombs?”
Well, once the Saadis lost power in the late 17th century, the next ruler of Morocco sealed the tombs off and no one stepped foot inside until 1917 when the French discovered them again. They were essentially lost for over 200 years. This means that all of that amazing tile work and those wooden carvings I mentioned before are extremely well preserved, considering their age. The tiles are bright in color and mostly intact. The buildings show sign of age, but in the best possible way. The archways are sultry and impressive.
You should visit this place to admire traditional Moroccan artistry. Everything is stunning. This was probably one of my favorite places in the whole city.
I was not surprised by how much I loved this place. I wanted to photograph everything, and I could have marveled at the details for hours. Just thinking about the amount of time it took to put together some of the more intricate mosaics blew my mind.
I was surprised, however, by how small the tombs actually are. I imagined it as a grand palace, cavernous in size. But similar to the rest of old Marrakech and the medina, it’s pretty diminutive. There are only a few rooms and several walkways, which means that when there are gaggles of tourists in there, it’s tight. We visited first thing in the morning and enjoyed relative emptiness. I would highly recommend doing this too.
The other thing that surprised me about the tombs, and really Marrakech in general, was the sheer number of orange trees. I hadn’t really equated Morocco with oranges before my visit here, but between the number of orange trees around the city and the quality of the orange juice in Djemaa El Fna, I will now always think of Morocco when I eat oranges.
I do not hesitate to say the Saadian Tombs are a must-see place if you visit Marrakech. The tiling enchanted me and its calmness was uplifting and inspiring. Which is odd really. Because despite the artwork, it’s just a really old graveyard.
*The Tombs are located just inside the Kasbah near the Kasbah Mosque on the southern end of the medina. Entry is only 10 Dirhams which is about $1.25.
Check it out: TravelShus’ Interactive Guide to Marrakech