The Gardens of Marrakech
The city of Marrakech has been booming since the hippie era for those looking for a truly exotic travel destination. The tourist hot spot has been receiving more tourists per year than any other city in Morocco and the trend does not seem like it will stop anytime soon. The simple allure of its name draws travelers from abroad, and the city is gaining an international mystique. The sites, sounds, and colors of the city attract millions each year.
One international celebrity who first commented about the colors of Marrakech was Jacques Majorelle. The renowned artist spent time in Morocco recovering from a bout with tuberculosis and thereafter decided to stay. While his villa is now owned by Yves Saint Laurent and is off limits to the public, the gardens are still open and attract thousands wanting to truly see and feel what attracted the Frenchman.
The Majorelle Gardens are located in the new town, known as Ville Nouvelle. The garden, which was opened in the mid-1950s, was restored by Laurent and gives way to ornate walkways lined with yucca, bamboo, cypress trees, and several hundred types of palm trees and cactus. The garden has fountains and a museum that can be accessed for an extra entrance fee of a few dollars. The museum us a cool getaway displaying antiques from local Berber tribes, ceramics, and some of Majorelle’s own sketches of the Moroccan countryside.
Besides the Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech has several other Gardens, such as the Aguedal Gardens, which house its own orchards. Designed in the twelfth century by the Almoravid, the gardens fell to disrepair until the latter 1800s. The public is allowed to visit the gardens, although the better parts of the pavilions are off limits and reserved for guests of the royal family.
Probably the most well known and most frequented gardens are the Imperial Menara Gardens. The garden isn’t as much as a garden as it is a farm. The 200-acre area is filled with fruit and olive trees, and it a nice place to escape for an afternoon picnic if you happen to be visiting during the hotter summer months. Like the Aguedal Gardens, Menara was constructed before the 1200s. Only later was the central pool dug out and used as a royal reservoir. The Saadian Pavilion is open to the public for a small donation and it is said that royal guests were able to meet with their concubines here for romantic escapades.
These three gardens are worth a visit and might take up an entire afternoon of sightseeing. All these aforementioned sites are only open in the daytime and will require a modest entrance fee. Additionally, other sites in Marrakech also close in the evening, so spending a couple of days in Marrakech just to see all that the city has to offer should suffice before heading out to the farther reaches of Morocco.