Badi Palace

Historic Site in Riads Zitoun & Kasbah

Image by Chris Griffiths Lonely Planet

As 16th-century sultan Ahmed Al Mansour was paving the Badi Palace with gold, turquoise and crystal, his court jester wisecracked, ‘It’ll make a beautiful ruin.’ That jester was no fool: 75 years later the place was looted, and today only remnants remain. Badi's vast courtyard, with its four sunken gardens and reflecting pools, give a hint of the palace's former majesty and the views from the rammed-earth ramparts, where storks nest, are magnificent.

Don’t scrimp on your ticket at Badi Palace: the main attraction in the ruins (if you don’t count the awesome rampart views) is the Koutoubia minbar (prayer pulpit), and it’s well worth the additional Dh10 entry fee. Once the minbar of the Koutoubia Mosque, its cedar-wood steps with gold and silver calligraphy were the work of 12th-century Cordoban artisans headed by a man named Aziz – the Metropolitan Museum of Art restoration surfaced his signature. It's kept in the building just west of the Khaysuran Pavilion.

The entire Badi Palace complex was closed to the public for a long-overdue and ambitious restoration project. Be aware that the complex, or parts of the complex, may not be fully open when you visit.

To reach the entrance, head through Place des Ferblantiers and turn right along the ramparts.