Suitcase and World: Splendor in the medina. Bahia Palace.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Splendor in the medina. Bahia Palace.

Looking at our cheapie map, Bahia Palace didn't look like it was locate too far from El-Badi so we decided to head there next.  Of course, our map had no street names which probably didn't matter anyway since there aren't any street signs.  They sure don't make it easy for you to find your way around.  So frustrating at times.

We just started walking in the direction that we thought we had to go in.   I kept my eye out for any sign that would indication the direction to go in but no luck.

"Lost again.... :-( As expected, we got lost.  This is becoming a broken record of a statement.  So pathetic, we are.  We found ourselves somewhere in some back street of the medina. No fun.  Turned around and doubled back.

When lost, it does help to have distractions along the way.  In this case, we found ourselves in the middle of the spice souk.  Always interesting to look at the sacks of stuff most of which I have no clue what it is which is unusual because I know my spices.

Then, we started to see commercial establishments with the word "Bahia" in their name.  I figured the palace was nearby.

"Bahia " Unlike the entrance to El Badi, the entrance to Bahia is not hidden.  A very broad path, flanked by tall trees, led us all the way to the front courtyard and the front door.  In the courtyard stood the largest fig tree I have ever seen in my life.  I had to take a picture of it :-)

Another 10 dirhams for a ticket each and we were in.

"Only a Palace in name" A bit of background on Bahia.  Though it's called a palace, it really is not.  It was actually a private for an extremely wealthy family.

The Bahia Palace was built in two phases by two different men, a father and son who each served as grand vizirs to sultans.  The first part of the palace, known as Dar Si Moussa, was built sometime between 1859 and 1873 by Si Moussa.  The second phase of construction was directed by Si Moussa's son Ba Ahmed and took place between 1894 and 1900.

The palace complex was erected in piecemeal fashion as additional tracts of land were gradually made available to the vizirs by their sultans.  Because the building was constructed in bits and pieces, over time, its floor plan is highly irregular. The palace is quite large and spreads over almost eight hectares and is comprised of a series of walled gardens, pavilions, and courtyard buildings.

"Wow! " The first place we entered into was a courtyard.  No wow factor here.  Then, we walked inside one of the side rooms.  Now were talking WOW!  The beauty was above our head, a magnificent painted wood ceiling that was bordered by intricately carved plaster work.  It was stunningly beautiful.

Painted ceiling detail.


At one end of the room was a fireplace.  I can imagine what this room would have been like warmed by the glow of a fire. 

The room opened into a small courtyard that was lush with greenery.   Beautiful carved wooden arches lined the covered walkway and the supporting columns were embellished with carved plaster.

"Wow, wow! " The next room we entered was another long, rectangular shaped room.   Here the eye catcher was definitely the large wood ceiling painted in lush shades of reds, oranges, yellows and greens..   It was simply gorgeous.   Some people might think it's gaudy and over the top but I thought it was wonderful.

Painted ceiling detail.

This room also opened into a small courtyard except this one was devoid of any plants.  The tile floor was laid in the checkered pattern with zellij tile borders.  At the center was a small fountain.

Off the courtyard were more rooms.  Even the doors here were ornately decorated.  I could swear every pair was different.

"Wow, wow, wow! " And as with the other rooms, the opulence was in the ceiling detail.  Of all the ceilings we saw, this was my favorite. The colors just looked bright and happy and I thought the patterns and paint work were much more delicately done here than in the other rooms.  If I lived here, this would be my room.

Painted ceiling detail.

Another intricately carved plaster border below the ceiling.

"I'm out of words " The last room.  Hands down, it had the most beautiful windows.

 And look at the ceiling and the plaster work.  Need I say anything other than WOW?  Took me a few seconds to pick my jaw up off the floor.

As beautiful as all the rooms were, I could only take so much.  It gets a bit overwhelming.  Luckily, only a few rooms were open to the public on the day we were there or else, we missed a bunch.  In any event, a handful of rooms and were pretty much done.

Back in the front courtyard and we were on our way to our next destination.  The Saadian Tombs.