Built in the 16th century by King Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadi dynasty, the lavish El Badi palace was designed to be one of the grandest in the world: "El Badi” means “The Incomparable.” Today, this architectural masterpiece lies in ruins, but it’s still among the most visited monuments of Marrakech’s UNESCO-listed medina.
Located within strolling distance of the equally magnificent Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace is a popular destination on Marrakech sightseeing tours, as well as day trips to Marrakech from cities such as Essaouira or Casablanca. Visitors can admire the vast prayer hall and grand courtyard; spot the storks that now nest in the old palace walls; and see the famous Koutoubia minbar (pulpit), which dates back to the 12th century.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is an admission fee to visit the palace.
- It’s best to visit with a guide, as there is no visitor information available.
- Plan to spend about an hour to visit the palace.
- Most areas of the palace are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
El Badi Palace is located at the southern end of Marrakech’s medina, close to the Mellah Jewish quarter. Taxis stop right outside the palace. It’s about 15 minutes’ walk from Jemaa el-Fna square.
When to Get There
The palace is open daily, but it’s best to visit before midday to avoid the heat, because there’s little shade at the palace. Each year in June or July, the palace hosts the National Festival of Popular Arts, with live music and dance performances taking place within the palace grounds.
History of El Badi Palace
King Ahmad al-Mansur spared no expense when building El Badi; the original palace was adorned with Italian marble, Sudanese gold, and intricately carved Indian woodwork. Sultan Mawlay Ismail of the succeeding Alaouite dynasty plundered those riches, leaving it almost completely bare. However, visitors can get an idea of the palace’s former grandeur, with its towering walls enclosing the traces of stately reception halls and other regal chambers.