Marrakech: Saadian Tombs

Saadian Tombs, Rue de la Kasbah, Marrakech, Morocco
Entry costs 10 dirhams; the tombs are open daily from 9am to 4pm. 


If you're in Marrakech and the Saadian Tombs is on your list of places to visit, I thoroughly recommend that you visit them *before* you visit the Bahia Palace. You'll be seriously underwhelmed if you do it the other way round. (You'll also find El Badi Palace in this area; it was closed when we tried to visit as filming was taking place there.)

Costing 10 dirham to enter the Saadian Tombs (about 70p), you won't be there for very long, but it will be a welcome respite from the chaos and hollers of "help" that you get on the streets of Marrakech, hollers which can cost you dearly if you're not careful. (I'll share more about this when I tell you about our visit to the tanneries.)

You should be able to find the tombs without any help though. The tombs are situated behind the Kasbah Mosque (right), so use that as your landmark and remember that you can always use Maps. As long as you load up the maps for Marrakech before you head to Morocco, your data can be switched off and you can use the GPS on your phone to navigate around the city.

Once you've bought your ticket - you *might* raise a smile from the man if you have the exact change; you might not be able to visit if you *don't* have the exact change - you meander your way along a dark and cramped passageway and then emerge back into the glorious sunshine.

Inside you'll be amazed at how quiet it has suddenly become. Take your guidebook along with you/have your travel app ready if you want to know why you're here and what you're looking at - you won't find any information inside, but you will find mosaics in gorgeous strong colours which juxtapose beautifully the crumbling red walls around you. Except these mosaics are actually graves. Cats will saunter around on them, oblivious to this - they just want to find the coolest spot.

As for why you are there, the clue is in the name: Saadian Tombs. In the more extravagant tombs you will find the final resting place of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur and his immediate family, members of the Saadi Dynasty who ruled Morocco from 1554 to 1659. The graves in the gardens are those of his household.

The tombs date back to the late 16th Century, but they were sealed off after the Sultan's death and were only discovered in 1917. There's almost a ghostly beauty to the marble work that, somehow, compliments the vivid mosaics. If you're in the area, it's worth popping in to see for yourself.

PS: Remember how I bought all those knee-length skirts to wear in Marrakech? I wore none of them since I spotted these culottes by ASOS (£9, down from £30) in the sale a few days before we went... goodbye skirts! My bag is by Mango (£9, down from £24.99), sunglasses are Ray-Ban (£143), and my top is by New Look (£5.99). Bargains!

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