The El Badi Palace (Palais el-Badi) was built at the end of the sixteenth century by the sultan Ahmed al-Mansour to commemorate the victory of the Battle of the Three Kings against the Portuguese. Today, what remains is a vast ruin separated from the outside by enormous thick clay walls, steeped in history and culture. The walls have become home to many storks who have constructed huge nests and are always present.
There is peaceful quiet in the huge empty space – the generous space allows visitors to spread out, so the palace never feels uncomfortably crowded. Try to immerse yourself in the sense of time gone by and imagine the palace in its former splendour – it is reported that “The Incomparable” (El Badii) was a palace with over 300 rooms decorated in gold, turquoise and crystal.
In 1672, the Alawite sovereign Moualy Ismaïl dismantled the palace to enrich the residences of Meknes, the new imperial capital. The palace was stripped in its entirety and only the foundations remained.
Still on display inside the El Badii Palace is the Koutoubia Minbar (pulpit). It is made of cedar wood and is incrusted with marquetry and small writing in gold and silver by artisans living in Cordoba during the twelfth century. There are also underground servants quarters and dungeons that can be visited.
The El Badi Palace is also home to the Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (MMP), which exhibits works of contemporary Moroccan photographers and other exhibitions.
The El Badi Palace is in the southern part of the Medina close to the Place des Ferblantiers. If you walk through the Place des Ferbantiers with Kosy Bar on your left and some cafes and artisan shops selling lamps and mirrors on your right, exit the arches and turn right. Much of the complex – including the vast courtyard and the MMP – is accessible by wheelchair.