Thursday's Child: El Badi Palace, Marrakech

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You might wonder why I’m featuring El Badi Palace as the final post in my tribute to amazing architecture that we’ve seen on our travels.  There isn’t much left of this palace in Marrakech, but when it was intact, it was an architectural marvel. 

El Badi translates as “The Incomparable”, and when it was built it was breathtaking in its opulence.  Commissioned by Sa’did Sharif Ahmad al-Mansur in the sixteenth century, no expense was spared.  Only the finest materials were used, including Italian marble, ivory, exquisitely-carved woodwork, gold and onyx.  Paths were paved in terracotta tiles, as were roofs of the surrounding pavilions.  The main hall in one of the pavilions was flanked by fifty enormous columns.  In the courtyard, a cluster of swimming pools was framed by four sunken orange gardens.

This was a building that should have stood forever.

But that’s not what happened.  A mere century later El Badi was torn apart, plundered for its precious materials so another ruler could build his own palace.

This is what remains: a courtyard with foundations of the pavilions, and four gardens which still blossom with the scent of orange.  A few denuded walls still stand, where storks have built their nests in the gaps.

This poem wasn’t inspired by El Badi, but I couldn’t help but think of it as I witnessed the ruins of this once-majestic palace:


I met a traveller from an antique land 

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, 

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, 

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, 

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; 

And on the pedestal these words appear: 

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: 

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” 

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare 

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

- Percy Bysshe Shelley


amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Two of our friends (who we're coincidentally having dinner with tonight) went to Marrakech a few months ago + I loved hearing about their travels there. I wish we could've seen El Badi during it's height - i bet it was absolutely awe-inspiring!

Gloria Baker said...

what amazing and beautiful pics! is nice travel with you Beth LOL

Valerie Gamine said...

Hopefully what's left of this beautiful palace will stay in tact!

The poem fits perfectly with your photos and descriptive words. :)

Carol said...

Wonderful poem, so fitting. I can just imagine how majestic the palace was. The ruins look beautiful and vast.

Caryn Caldwell said...

I love it, and I can definitely see why you would feature it. It's beautiful in its decay, and I can imagine how amazing it must have looked in its time. As for those oranges? So cool!

Anonymous said...

How neat that there are still orange trees there! Even as a ruin, the palace is still amazing.

Belinda said...

This is one of the must travel to spots for me - thanks for the inspiration!!

chow and chatter said...

love your travel post and fun to imagine how things were in their prime

Barbara said...

Very fitting poem, Beth. Such a shame beauty like that is lost, but wonderful to stand there amid the orange trees and imagine.

Anna said...

I've loved seeing all this architecture - I love the vision of what this must have been in all its glory.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Gosh, this must have been spectacular in its day...even the framework is impressive. Have a great weekend, Beth.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

Stunning location and scenery my friend :D

Choc Chip Uru

Jess said...

I love reading these posts on historical architecture! Beautiful photos (that orange one makes me want to visit an orange grove) and a beautiful poem.

grace said...

the only reason i know marrakech exists is because of crosby, stills, and nash. :) incidentally, i'm thinking of naming my firstborn son ozymandius. :)

Catherine said...

Dear Beth, I love history and imagining the life that was.
Thank you for introducing me to this palace and stirring my imagination.
Blessings dear for a lovely weekend. Catherine xo

Vi said...

How interesting, funny how it's true that earthly treasures don't last :) I bet this was still amazing to see.

Food Gal said...

So sad that not more of it remains. Truly a shame. But at least part of it still stands for us to admire through your great photos.

Kitcheninspirations said...

We stayed in a lovely Riad right across from one of the still standing walls last November; it was quite an experience.

marufhosen said...

Nice article and great knowledge. Thanks for the share. I love this story and enjoy with your words!
red onyx tile

Post a Comment