Tombs, Palaces, & Ghettos


This morning Josh and I went to see a few things in the Medina I had not yet visited on my previous trips here. First we went to go see the Saadian Tombs, which were ok as far as they went, but one fact about them was just fascinating to me. They were sealed up for centuries, and only rediscovered in 1917 and subsequently restored. How does a large, above ground complex “disappear” and get “rediscovered”? Wouldn’t people have wondered what that building was behind there?

After that we went to the El Badi Palace, which must have been an impressive place in its day, and still is, even as a haunting ruin. Like seemingly everything else we have seen on this trip (Volubilis among others), much of its original marble and riches were plundered by Moulay Ismail for his own pleasure palaces. If you ask me, Moulay Ismail seems to have been a real asshole.

Following up our palace visit, we decided to take a walk in the nearby Mellah, which was the old Jewish ghetto here in the Medina. Many medina towns in Morocco have such ghettos, which were variously places to protect and imprison the Jewish population, depending on their usefulness to those in power at the time. Although at one time this area was quite prosperous, at the moment it is among the poorest and most run down in the Medina, and quite an eye opening experience. It was also interesting that the streets of the Mellah were all quite straight and parallel to each other compared to other parts of the Medina, and this made getting around quite easy.

Finally, we ended our excursion with a trip to the 19th century Bahia Palace, an incredibly beautiful and well crafted place with a level of detail that boggles the mind. We then had a quite delicious meal at the creatively named El Restaurant Bahia next door.

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