Saadian Tombs


This is an imageWhilst staying at Riad Laksiba you have no real excuse “not” to visit the Saadian Tombs as it is at the start of the Kasbah high street (Rue de la Kasbah) opposite Kasbah Cafe and next to the Kasbah Mosque.

The best time to visit is immediately after an early breakfast to beat the coach-loads of tourists arriving from packaged hotel excursions.

It is a small area and lends itself to quality photography, if you are looking for detail rather than expanse.

Opening times: From 09.00am with an entry fee of around 20dhs (£1.50 approx).

As this is a heavily visited site in Marrakech do expect several “hawkers” in the immediate vicinity all trying to sell their nick-nacs if you simply ignore them they will quickly move on to the next victim! I have got to a stage of not even saying “No thank you” as it opens dialogue as to which Nationality and language to communicate in. This method does not normally suit English politeness but is a good technique to add to your armour.

The Saadian Tombs was a significant landmark to my wife and I when were were first looking for a property in Marrakech.

Not being a native Marrakechi has several drawbacks.
Language possibly being the greatest daily hurdle. My French is appalling and my Berber Arabic, non-existent. So how does one ask direction if one cannot understand the answer.
Grunt and Pay seems order of the day.

My wife and I felt that we should start to stay in Riads to get an understanding of how they operate, what we like, what works for us etc. To this day we are astonished at the varied choice and price range the Kasbah has to offer.

Added benefits are the owner’s own tales of renovation, corruption, despair and adulation when emerging from the other side of their experiences. This is possibly the most valuable advice one could ever receive, as it is real, relative and impartial to our own quest.

Fiona and I devised a plan.
To best agree on location I would arrange for Fiona to get lost and then be escorted to the Saadian Tombs !!!!.
A good plan thus far. (Well at least I thought so). The next phase of the plan was crucial. I asked a local chap, who did not know what Fiona looked like, to go and find my wife, looking lost, at the Saadian Tombs and escort her back to the Riad where we were staying.
I paid him some pocket-change and off he ventured.

The philosophy behind the plan was simple. If Fiona had just arrived in Marrakech and asked a taxi to take her to the Saadian Tombs “would she get there?” Answer… of course … it is a significant Marrakech landmark. If she is to expect a representative of a Riad to meet her at the Saadian Tombs and subsequently guide her to our Riad to commence her vacation… would using the Saadian Tombs as a landmark prove successful?

The walk, along Rue de la Kasbah, from the Riad we were staying in, to the Saadian Tombs took approximately, 5 lazy minutes. Assuming that you do not stop to chat to everybody who wants to introduce themselves or pop into the “Complex Artizan” a huge supermarket of Artizan produced tourist goodies, from slippers, key-rings and Fez Hats to entire home installations etc. En-route there is a host of little kiosks supporting the local community from tailors, barbers, immobiliers, calligraphists to pharmacy, souvenirs and cafes etc.

For my “local chap” these distractions would not deter his mission. 30 minutes went by…… 45 minutes went by and I was beginning to think that my choice of “local chap” had simply disappeared with his new found wealth. At 50 minutes he returned, without Fiona, looking somewhat perplexed.

“Mr…… there’s hundreds of them…. tourists….. they all look the same !”

5 minutes later my “local chap” and I arrived at the Saadian Tombs.

“Look” I said.

“That’s my wife, she’s easy to spot“.

“How come” asked the local chap.

“She is the only tourist that looks …well… Furious” !

Lunch / Dinner at the Kasbah Cafe?

The Kasbah Cafe opened her doors in 2012 and has proved “a hit” with our guests. Good menu, well priced.. but for me the enjoyment is derived from obtaining a table on the top floor balcony overlooking the Saadian Tombs and the Kasbah Mosque. People watching should be a recognised pastime.

The Saadian Tombs, by day, is a veritable carousel of tourists, guides, taxis and coaches all making a pilgrimage to a Marrakech tourist hot-spot.
Amongst the procession of camera happy snappers are a host of hawkers and there wears. Souvenir camels, postcards, hats and bracelets.
Bizarrely it is almost worth a visit to the Kasbah Cafe simply watch the occasional tourist become flustered and incapable when dealing with a hawker.

Perish the thought that I derive some internal amusement by this unfurling drama, but I do.
The Hawker is a professional, yet still it bemuses me over the length of time he’ll persist on an obvious “lost cause”.

The anguish, and my quietly enjoyed theatre, is short lived when the flustered American lady spots the salvation of her “fortress sanctuary” draw to a halt and the doors to her tourist coach ease open. Like a “greyhound out of a trap” she parts with polite etiquette and races towards safe custody.

As the lady exhales a sigh of relief, looking forlorn from her coach window, she catches my eye. I acknowledge her with a friendly grin and a shrug of my shoulders. She tuts, rolls her eyes and returns my grin with a huge smile underwritten by a theatrical “phew” as she wipes her brow.
Curtains close.
My show is over.

In the evenings the Saadian Tombs area take on a foggy eeriness from steam emanating from the many local food stalls. Kebabs asunder. People everywhere.

The atmosphere is great… the smells…… intoxicating.

At twilight you really do feel that sense of being somewhere else.

The Saadian tombs in Marrakech date back from the time of the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603). The tombs were only recently discovered, in 1917, and were restored by the Beaux-arts service.

The tombs have, because of the beauty of their decoration, been a major attraction for visitors of Marrakech.

The mausoleum comprises the corpses of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty that originated in the valley of the Draa River.

Among the tombs are those of Ahmad al-Mansur and his family. The building is composed of three rooms. The most famous is the room with the twelve columns. This room contains the tomb of the son of the sultan’s son Ahmad al-Mansur. The stele is in finely worked cedar wood and stucco work. The graves are made of Italian Carrara marble.

Outside the building is a garden and the graves of soldiers and servants.