The walls of Marrakech Medina hold hidden spaces.
As we walk through the sun kissed, busy, vibrant streets we are often unaware of the beauty concealed behind the doors.
Your first experience as a visitor to one of our riad hotels will illustrate this, as you step through the doors for the first time, the hidden splendour of Marrakech reveals itself. A mirage in a desert!
In 2016 a wonderful hidden space opened its doors to visitors for the first time. In the heart of the Medina lies a magical sanctuary, a complex of palaces set within a magnificent garden. A truly outstanding example of Islamic art, science and architecture.
After 8 years of preparatory work Le Jardin Secret is now welcoming visitors.
Le Jardin Secret is actually two gardens joined by a narrow linking path.The first is the Exotic Garden which has plants from all over the world from South Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Latin America. It recalls the Garden of Eden with colourful blooms , bird song and water trickling from fountains and channels which irrigate the garden and provide water for the hammam. The New Pavilion facing the entrance leads in to the larger Islamic Garden which is laid out as it would have been in the sixteenth century following the renovation of Mouassine by the Saadian Sultan Moulay Abdullah. The riad was destroyed towards the end of the seventeenth century and restored again in the 19th Century by the Caid Al Hajj Abd Allah U Bihi who built a new palace and garden from the remains of the layout of the sixteenth century. The Caid fell out of favour with Sultan Mohammed IV who despatched him with a cup of poisoned tea.
The next owner exchanged the riad with one in Fez and it’s owner Al Hajj Muhammed Loukrissi became the owner of the Secret Garden which was the largest riad in the Medina at the time.He was the head of the watchmaker’s guild of Marrakech and was elected as chamberlain to Sultan Moulay ‘Abd al Hafiz. The Sultan was exiled in 1912 and Muhammed Loukkrissi retired to the Secret Garden where he enjoyed a charming domestic retirement with his three wives and his collection of watches until his death in 1934. The property then fell into disrepair as so many had claims to inherit parts of it. This was only resolved in 2008 so that restoration work could begin.
The Hbiqa Pavilion at the beginning of the Islamic Garden houses a video presentation of the epic restoration work and planting which was all carried out at night and in the early hours to avoid the Medina traffic.
The Garden offers drinks and snacks and is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the views, history and architecture.
Tom Stuart Smith has written a very informative guide available at the shop in the entrance pavillion along with a listing of the plants illustrated with fine drawings.
– February and March: 10.30 am – 6.30 pm.
– From April to August: 10.30 am – 8.00 pm.
– September and October: 10 am – 7.30 pm.
– From November to January: 9.30 am – 5.30 pm.
Entrance fee is 50 dh with a further 30 dh fee to climb the tower for a fantastic view of the Medina.