Visit the Saadian tombs in Marrakech: tickets, prices, opening hours

Tombeaux Saadiens, Marrakech

Off to Marrakech in Morocco? Don’t miss a visit to the Saadian Tombs! Here’s our visit guide: tickets, prices and opening hours!

Located in the heart of the Kasbah of Marrakech, Morocco, south of the famous Place Jemaa el Fna, the Saadian Tombs are a royal necropolis dating back to the time of Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansur Saadi (1549-1603), sixth sultan of the Saadian dynasty. Built from 1578, they were hidden in the 18th century and only rediscovered in 1917.

Why visit the Saadian Tombs in Marrakech? Because the royal tombs are a unique example of Hispano-Moorish decorative art. A visit to the Saadian Tombs takes you back to the golden age of the Saadian dynasty, which ruled Morocco between 1524 and 1659. Since their rediscovery and restoration, the site continues to fascinate international visitors to Marrakech, who are captivated by the beauty and refinement of the decorations.

But we won’t tell you too much. Here’s what you need to know to visit the Saadian Tombs if you’ve run out of things to do in Marrakech!

History of the Saadian tombs

Tombeaux Saadiens, Marrakech

Photo credit: Shutterstock / HUANG Zheng

The history of the Saadian tombs dates back to the early 14th century, when the first building was used as a necropolis. In 1557, Prince Mohamed Cheikh was buried here. His son, Sultan Ahmed El Mansour, enlarged the building and embellished it with the « Lalla Mseouada » koubba, named after his mother. She herself was buried here in 1591, along with the sultan’s 3 successors. This was Marrakech’s golden age, lasting from 1524 to 1659.

The monument of the Saadian tombs is one of the few remaining vestiges of the Saadian dynasty. A small power originally from the Dra region, not far from Ouarzazate, the Saadians took advantage of the break-up of the Moroccan tribes at the time, in the face of rising Spanish and Portuguese power. The Saadians established themselves as a major ruling force in Morocco, winning several battles and taking Marrakech in 1524, followed by Fez.

The Saadians extended their influence in the 16th century following the Battle of the 3 Kings (between the King of Portugal and two Moroccan dynasties). Ahmed El Mansour, known as « Ahmed the Golden », reigned for 25 years, undertaking military expeditions as far as Mauritania, and making Morocco a rich power. With the gold and riches looted in battle, he embellished the city of Marrakech, including the Saadian Tombs.

After the decline of the Saadians and the seizure of power by the less expensive Alawites, Saadian power fell and the tombs fell into disuse. Sultan Moulay Ismaïl ordered the destruction of the Saadian tombs in the 18th century to remove all traces of the dynasty’s namesake, but did not destroy the tombs themselves. Walled in, the necropolis was not rediscovered until 1917. The mausoleum houses the bodies of some sixty Saadians, their successors and their families. It also houses the tombs of the dynasty’s soldiers and servants.

What to see and do at the Saadian Tombs

Tombeaux Saadiens, Marrakech

Photo credit: Shutterstock / HUANG Zheng

In all, the mausoleum comprises 3 halls. The highlight of a visit to the Saadian Tombs of Marrakech is the Hall of the Twelve Columns. Here lies the tomb of Sultan Ahmed El Mansour, topped by an Atlas cedar dome with richly carved stuccowork.

A visit to Marrakech’s Saadian tombs includes the mausoleum’s tombs, decorated in Italian Carrara marble. Take a look at the meticulous decorations on the walls and columns in Hispano-Moorish style, the dominant art of 16th-century Morocco. Also, some royal tombs are adorned with poetic epitaphs, notably that of Princess Zorha. It reads:  » Here is the tomb of the noble lady, new moon, wonder of virtues« .

After the 12-column hall, pass by the chapel, then don’t miss the outdoor gardens. From here, watch the storks, who like to nest at the entrance to the site. The Saadian tombs and their gardens were restored in the 1920s, and what you see today is a real step back in time to the modern era (16th-17th centuries).

If you love history, a visit to the Saadian tombs is a must. As such, we recommend that you take a tour with a guide, who will tell you all about the era and the lives of the personalities buried in the mausoleum. The monument is located 100 meters west of the El Badi palace, and close to the Kasbah mosque, all of which are must-sees on a visit to Marrakech.

How do I get to the Saadian tombs?

From France

From France, there are regular daily flights to Morocco. Allow around 3 hours to reachMarrakech-Ménara airport, located southwest of the city. To find your ticket at the best price, we advise you to plan ahead and not hesitate to use a flight comparator such as Ulysse.

Then take a cab to the city center and the Medina, making sure to negotiate the price with the driver before you get in. The fare should not exceed 120 dirhams per trip, or around €12.

On site

Private shuttles, to be booked in advance, can take you to the Saadian Tombs from your hotel or the airport. From the center of town, visiting the Saadian Tombs is easy: just go to Rue de la Kasbah, in the heart of the Medina.

Opening hours and prices of the Saadian tombs

Tombeaux Saadiens, Marrakech

Photo credit: Shutterstock / HUANG Zheng

SCHEDULES

  • Monday to Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

RATES

Tickets cost 70 dirhams, about €7.

Good to know

– Guided tours of the Saadian tombs are available.

– Allow half a day to combine a visit to the mausoleum, Place Jemaa El Fna and the Kasbah mosque.

– Nearby, take a stroll through the souks of the old Medina market.