Bahia Palace

The Bahia Palace is located in the medina of Marrakech along the northern edge of the district Mellah or Jewish quarter. Although the exact dates of the construction of the palace are unknown, the building was in use between 1859 and 1873 and was completed by 1900. The palace was built in two stages by two different men, a father and son who has served in grand viziers Alawite Cherifian. The first part of the palace, known as Dar Si Moussa, was built between 1859 and 1873 by Si Moussa, graduated vizier of Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abd al Rahman (reg. 1859-1873). Between 1894 and 1900, the second phase of construction was led by the son of Si Moussa Ba Ahmed, Grand Vizier of Sultan Moulay Abd al-Aziz (reg. 1894-1908). The palace complex was built piecemeal as additional land areas have gradually been made available by their viziers sultans. Due to the nature of the additive in the design process, the plan is very irregular and there is no continuous axes, elevations unified or coherent ordering principles. The palace is quite large and covers nearly eight hectares in the project consist of a series of walled gardens, pavilions, and buildings of the court at different scales. Although the footprint of the palace is not the same rectangle, its size can be estimated as 340 meters long at the longest point along its east-west axis, and between 45 and 95 meters wide along the most of its north-south axis. The north-south axis of the palace turned eighteen degrees counterclockwise from the north-south meridian. This does not include a loose rectangular over 60 meters wide from east to west and 80 meters north along the south, adjacent to the main part of the complex near the southern edge of the center.

The oldest part of the palace, Dar Si Moussa, with a courtyard in the north of the complex, and a central garden with several fountains and cypress, orange, jasmine and banana trees. Two richly decorated rooms, covered with ceramic tile surround this lush garden, which contain inscriptions dating from the construction of this part of the palace Dar 1867. If Moussa is only a small part of the entire complex Bahia Palace, but it is remarkable for its refined décor trim and a charming ambience pastoral. The new parts of the palace were built by Ba Ahmed, with the intention to surpass the achievements of his father If Moussa. Ba Ahmed was continuously added section after section of the palace, the creation of complex and irregular outline of the final complex. Ba Ahmed al -Hajj enlisted architect Muhammad bin al Makki Misfiwi to design and decorate the large apartments additions to the palace. Muhammad bin Makki previously worked in Andalusia, Spanish and decorative motifs, materials and arabesques can be seen in the craftsmanship of the decoration of the palace later. One of the best elements of the Bahia Palace is the large marble courtyard, built between 1896 and 1897. The court measures 30 meters wide along its north-south axis and 50 meters long along its east-west axis. It is divided into quadrants by pathways zellige multicolored tiles or glazed earthenware, in a simple checkerboard. Each quadrant is paved with white marble with thin borders between each zellige large marble slab.

At the intersection of zellige paths in the middle of the courtyard is a large rectangular fountain, zellige width equal to paths on each side, with a smaller round pool at its center. The courtyard is surrounded by outdoor galleries roof green ceramic tiles. The arches that support the inner sides have galleries of bright yellow and blue ceramic screens -Dessus insert their taxes. These screens incorporate plant sculpture in the traditional Andalusian style. Materials for decorating the Palais Bahia came from all over North Africa. Marbles were brought from Meknes who were probably originally extracted Carrera, Italy, and may have been previously decorated the Palace Moulay Ismail (1672) or the palace Badi Palace in Marrakech (1578-1594). Cedar for painted ceilings of the palace apartments was commissioned to medium-Atlas region and glazed terracotta tiles came from Tetouan. Artisans from throughout North Africa and Andalusia were used in the construction of the palace. Ba Ahmed was a very rich and powerful vizier whose fortune was envied by the Sultan himself. Just hours after the death of Ba Ahmed in 1900, Sultan Moulay Abd al Aziz ordered the search of the Bahia Palace to collect his magnificent furniture and decorative materials. While many of the opulent decoration of the palace was lost during this incursion, parts of the palace were spared and kept their rich decoration. The marble-paved courtyard and neighboring apartments survived intact and remains an example of the former grandeur of the complex Bahia Palace. The Bahia Palace has been well maintained over the last century by the Moroccan government and is currently used to receive foreign dignitaries. A part of the palace is occupied by the Moroccan Ministry of Cultural Affairs.