The site of the Saadian Tombs figures among the most popular tourist attractions in Marrakech Morocco. Its main buildings date back to the late 1500s, and found within the numerous tombs are the remains of Saadian royalty. Even the most famous of the Saadi dynasty rulers, Sultan Ahmed el Mansour, lies entombed at the site. Wonderful architecture only adds to the allure of a visit, with the Hall of the Twelve Columns being particularly spectacular.
After the fall of the Saadi dynasty to the Alaouite dynasty, the Saadian Tombs in Marrakech were sealed off. The Sultan Moulay Ismail, who was the ruler of the Alaouites, had ordered the destruction of everything else that pertained to the Saadians. It is likely that the tombs were spared due to some kind of superstition. Regardless of the reason for them being spared, the Saadian Tombs remained in a state of obscurity until they were rediscovered in 1917 by a French resident general. This general only noticed the formations after consulting an aerial survey map. A passageway to the tombs from the site of the adjoining mosque was constructed not long afterwards.
The fact that the Saadian Tombs were neglected for so long only served to keep them in a relatively well-preserved state. Restorations were carried out where needed, and the result is a complete site that is fascinating to explore. Two main mausoleums house more than 60 tombs between them, and the larger of these two mausoleums is where you will find the Hall of the Twelve Columns. The final resting place for Sultan Ahmed el Mansour, this hall boasts an attractive vaulted roof, impressive carvings, and immaculate zellige tiles. It's the kind of Moorish architectural splendor that you might expect to encounter while exploring the famed Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
The two main mausoleums that are found at the Saadian Tombs Morocco site also house the tombs of el Mansour's son, his grandson, his mother, and Mohammed ech Sheikh, among others. Mohammed ech Sheikh was the founder of the Saadian dynasty. Outside of the main mausoleums, more than 100 additional tombs can be found, and they contain the remains of princes and other royal members. Colorful tiles mark the various graves, and many have inscriptions on them.
For those who are interested in including the Saadian Tombs on their Morocco vacation itineraries, finding the site could hardly be easier. The passageway that leads to the Marrakech attraction is well-marked, and it doesn't hurt that this passageway is to the immediate right of the Kasbah Mosque. This mosque boasts a lofty minaret that is extremely easy to pick out on the Marrakech skyline. The Rue de la Kasbah is the name of the street, and the site is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Guided tours of the Saadian Tombs Morocco are easy to arrange, and visitors might look to hire one of the English-speaking guides available at the entrance.