Saadian Tombs – Splendour Even In Death

One could almost go as far as saying that no trip to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the Saadian Tombs. The tombs are by no means as big as what they appear to be in many of the pictures you see online, but their beauty and their fascinating history has certainly secured their place on any list of top Marrakech tourist attractions.

Saadian Tombs, Marrakech

The Chamber of 12 Pillars in Saadian Tombs.

Like several other attractions in Marrakech, the Saadian tombs are within walking distance from the central square, but due to the heat in Marraketch, many visitors opt for taking a taxi instead.

Of course, if you book one of our Morocco private tours that include a visit to the tombs, transport to and from the site in a modern air-conditioned vehicle will already be included in your tour.

Saadian Tombs – A Brief History

Saadian tombs mausoleum in Marrakech

The Saadian tombs mausoleum in Marrakech built by sultan Ahmad al-Mansur.

The beautiful Saadian tombs, which are also known as sepulchers date all the way back to the famous Saadian Dynasty when Morocco was ruled by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur from 1578 through to 1603.

However, when an Alawite sultan by the name of Moulay Ismail rose to power a few decades after Ahmed al-Mansur’s death in 1603, he gave the orders to wall up the tombs so that the remains of Ahmed al-Mansur and his family could be kept out of sight and out of mind.

It was only in 1917 that the Saadian Tombs were rediscovered; a bit of a chance discovery which occurred while some aerial photography was taking place in the skies above Marrakech. Soon after they were discovered, a French organization, the Beaux-arts service, set about trying to renovate them to their former glory.

It needs to be said that when these tombs were constructed, and particularly the main tomb in which Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur was to be interned, absolutely no expense was spared. Ahmad al-Mansur even brought in highly skilled workers to cover certain walls with honeycomb muqarnas (highly decorative plaster) which was then gilded with pure gold.

Saadian Tombs - The mausoleum comprises the interments of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty that originated in the valley of the Draa River

The beautiful Chamber of 12 Pillars with marble imported from Italy.

Needless to say, his tomb, known as the Chamber of 12 Pillars, was by far the grandest tomb of them all. Even the 12 columns were made from expensive Carrara marble which was especially imported from Italy.

One very interesting is the fact that even in death, Ahmad al-Mansur insisted in favoring certain people, even more than some of his wives and other family member.

This was a trait he was well-know while he was alive, and it followed him when he died, in that some of his wives and family members were laid to rest outside the tombs, while some close aids and Jewish advisors were give prime positions within the tombs.

Visiting the Saadian Tombs in Marrakech

Saadians Tombs exterior

Saadians Tombs exterior.

Those who have been involved in the renovation and upkeep of this beautiful monument have really done a spectacular job, something which you will notice from the very minute you arrive at the tombs via a narrow passage which you access inside the grounds of the Kasbah Mosque.

While it really only takes a short while to explore the three tombs, we would recommend setting aside at least one or two hours so that you can spend some time strolling around the site. All the tombs, including that of Ahmad al-Mansur are overshadowed by his mother’s tomb which, to many people’s surprise, is guarded by a large mob of stray cats.

Entry fees for the site are the equivalent of about $3.00 for adults and about $1.25 for children. The site is open to the public daily between 09h00 and 16h45.

Please keep in mind that a visit to the Saadian Tombs is not included in all of our Morocco tour packages or our Egypt and Morocco tours.

If you don’t see it in the itinerary of your preferred tour package, but would like it to be included, please mention it to one of our tour managers so that your chosen itinerary can be amended accordingly.

At Egypt Tours Plus, we believe in offering travel packages which are flexible so that they can be customized and tailored to fit your needs perfectly.