TOURISM About 45 minutes on foot from Jemâa El Fna, at the end of Avenue Menara is a garden with the same name. A basin at the foot of the small pavillion serves as a water reserve for irrigating the surrounding trees. On the weekends, it’s a popular place with Marrakchis who love walking through the vaste and peaceful space. But even more interesting is the history that surrounds this place. Let’s find out more about this unique place in the heart of the Door to the South.
In the 12th century, the Almohades created the Menara Gardens and constructed the basin that sits in the middle of the park. At the time, this watering hole had many functions: it was a water reserve, but also a pool used by the soldiers who used it to learn how to swim, to prepare themselves for crossing the Mediterranean towards Al Andalus.
Then in 1870, a beautiful Saadian pavillion with a green roof was built. Legend has it that this was a place for the Sultans at the time to bring their romantic dates. And with all legends, an unfortunate event happened the night one of the sultans through his pretender in the large basin as the sun was rising...
But today, it’s a place where lovers stroll. And the evenings tend to end with visitors watching the sunset rather than drowning in the basin. It’s certainly a magnificent place to spend the end of the day. The last rays of sunshine reflect off the basin in a surprising manner, lighting up the entire place.
And the surrounding trees provide a complete change of scenery. A magical garden, a place to spend an entire day. It’s not uncommon to see families here enjoying a picnic under the shade of an olive tree, taking advantage of the refreshing atmosphere.Centuries-old olive groves and more!
Rows of trees extend as far as the eye can see. Olive trees of course, but also cypress and palm trees. Fed not only by the underground canal system coming from the basin, but also with water from the mountains located just 30 kilometres from Marrakech. This hydraulic system, more than 700 years old, is a testament to the ingenuity of the architects who built the site. The reservoir releases the water at convenient times throughout the day to irrigate the plants.
Spread over 88 hectares, Menara Gardens is a display of agricultural and irrigation engineering techniques used by the dynasties at the time. Impressive not only for it’s beauty, but also the history, it’s a must-see in Marrakech. Families and couples out for a walk, enjoying the view is a common site here. At the entrance, ponies and camels await tourists.
Water, sunshine, a palace and vegetation: a place you don’t want to miss!
Text and Photo: Elisa F.
Translation: Mandy Sinclair