Monday, January 2, 2012

Resting spot. Saadian Tombs.


From Bahia Palace, we made our way back through the spice souk in search of the Saadian Tombs. We ended back at the neighborhood mosque two nights ago.


Sigh...no signs to tell us where the Tombs were located and the map was absolutely useless. A nice woman pointed us in the right direction, down a narrow alleyway that ran alongside the mosque. Sure....we would have found this place had we just paid attention to small swarm of tourists going in and out of the alleyway:-)







Another 10 dirhams each for an entry ticket and we were in.  This was as popular a place as Bahia Palace.  I could see that we had to line up to see at least one of the highlights of the Tombs.






"A bit of history " The site occupied by the Saadian Tombs may have been a burial ground before the Saadian period, but the earliest known burial dates from 1557 and all the main buildings were constructed under Sultan Ahmed al Mansour (1578-1603).

When the Alaouite sultan Moulay Ismail (1672-1727) took over in Marrakesh, he systematically destroyed el-Badi Palace, which was also built by Ahmed al Mansour, but historians believe that superstition probably kept him from destroying the burial ground of the Saadians. Instead, he sealed up all the entrances to the Saadian Tombs except for an obscure one from the Kasbah Mosque.

The Saadian Tombs lay hidden and mostly forgotten until 1917, when they were discovered during a French aerial survey and a passageway was built from the side of the Kasbah Mosque. The tombs' long neglect has ensured their preservation and they have since been fully restored to their original glory.


"The Mausoleums "
The Saadians Tombs consists of two  mausoleums, with 66 tombs laid out within them and over 100 more outside in the gardens.

As we entered grounds, the first mausoleum was immediately on our left.





"Where al-Mansour lies " The mausoleum was comprised of two rooms.  The first room contains the thin marble stones of several Saadian princes.  There was a eery green glow emanating from the archway that separate the first and second rooms.   Green is the color of Islam so maybe that's the significance of the light??






There was a long line queuing up to see inside the second room.  Soon and joined in.  As we stood waiting, I glanced down at the tombs.  There was a guide standing behind us.  He was with an Indian family from Singapore.  Okay, so I was eavesdropping.  Anyway, the mentioned about the color of the tiles signifying the stature of the person who was buried beneath it.  Unfortunately, I don't remember what said :-(


The line was moving at snail's pace but I didn't really care.  It was gloriously beautiful day to be outside and I'm having a wonderful time being in Morocco so for all I cared, I could stand here all day.


 


In due time, we got to the front of the line.  We were standing at the entrance to the most famous of the rooms of the mausoleum.







This room, the most beautiful in the mausoleum, is distinguished by twelve columns, magnificent carved plaster and gorgeous zellij tilework.  The room houses the tomb of Ahmed al-Mansour, flanked by the tombs of his sons, his family and his successors.


"A spot for mom and Sultan #1 " The second mausoleum is also comprised of two rooms and was built by Ahmed el Mansour to house the tombs of his mother and the first sultan of the Saadian dynasty, Mohammed as Sheikh.   Each tomb is housed in a separate room.




With only two mausoleums and four rooms to see, we were done in less than an hour. 

Whatever Moulay Ismail's reasons were for not destroying this place, we should thank him because he left behind probably the only remaining heritage landmark for the Saadians.

It is true that you lose track of time when you're having fun but my stomach does a good of job of reminding me when I need to eat :-)  Next destination. A place to grab a quick bite.