Bahia Palace

Lonely Planet review

Imagine what you could build with Morocco’s top artisans at your service for 14 years, and here you have it: La Bahia (the Beautiful) has floor-to-ceiling decoration begun by Grand Vizier Si Moussa in the 1860s and embellished from 1894 to 1900 by slave-turned-vizier Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed. But the Bahia proved too beguiling: in 1908 warlord Pasha Glaoui claimed the palace as a suitable venue to entertain French guests, who were so impressed that they booted out their host in 1911, and installed the protectorate’s résident-généraux here.

Though only a portion of the palace’s 8 hectares and 150 rooms is open to the public, you can see the unfurnished, opulently ornamented harem that once housed Bou Ahmed’s four wives and 24 concubines. The quarters of his favourite, Lalla Zineb, are the most spectacular, with original woven-silk panels, stained-glass windows, intricate marquetry and ceilings painted with rose bouquets.