Secret palace of the Marrakshi Millionaire

A harem of your beautiful women relaxing and natural, greets the Pacha of Marrakech at his grossly decorated palace in the heart of the Marrakshi medina. As the Pacha of Marrakech, most powerful man in Morocco and one of the richest in the world, Themi El Glaoui was able to command great respect and a vast, questionably sourced, wealth built up of investments in Moroccan produce and natural resources.

El Glaoui’s palace Dar El Bacha, not currently open to the public, is a feast of history and architecture that transports visitors into Themis’ world and love of pretty things.  Guests at our Riad Papillon arrive at a taxi rank next to the palace.  Above are pictures of Dar el Bacha in 2012 and in its heyday in the 1930’s.

Dar El Bacha, a facade, cross the neutral unprepossessing doors and you enter one of the most beautiful palaces of Marrakech! Do not wait for a guide, marvel in the great presentation and detail on the architecture of the palace, open your eyes and see the work of craftsmen who built this masterpiece only a century ago.

A long corridor is awaits gripped visitors. Moving your head to the ceiling you see the Zelliges multicolored cedar wood door painted with the natural pigments available (poppy, indigo and saffron), engraved with the common but highly symbolic star of Morocco.

We move towards the reception room where the Andalusian inspired ceiling rivals colors and forms: exposed cedar wood beams and coffers detailed with beautiful geometry and floral motifs. Tiles and Stucco carvings adorn the columns contours along with rigorous star polygons, Friezes diamond-shaped jewels or “Lion’s Claws,” braids and knots whose colors meet, continuously overlapping.

The seductive courtyard, which is the reception room and room for a grand harem, provides an atmosphere of calm and serenely planted palm trees, banana trees, roses and other colourful plants. By the patio, notice the intriguingly secret ironwork, door knockers and hinges. Opposite the reception hall is the office of the Pasha of Marrakech and open on occasions invite yourself in the hammam, even if the premises are undeveloped and basic by western eyes. Hammam consists of three small rooms (hot, warm and cold) and a relaxation room. The plaster ceiling is painted lace with small openings allowing light to pass just: but the blue, green and red ceiling reflect the ambient light.

Moroccan architecture is unique is many ways and well represented by this beautifully crafted palace seeped in recent history. Decor, ambiance and local techniques can be appreciated at the warming and welcoming and beautiful raids of Marrakech-Riad.