Finding things in Morocco is always a challenge. But there are always people around to help. While trying to find the Saadian Tombs in Marrakesh, we were helped by two people. Unfortunately, they always want something from you.
The Saadian Tombs are the resting place of the Sherif, the Descendants of the Prophet Mohamed. The tombs occupy a small courtyard just outside the heart of the Marrakesh Medina. The tombs were more or less lost for years until the French General Hubert Lyautey noticed them on an aerial photograph and decided to open a passageway.
Unlike the catacombs of Paris or Venice, these tombs were hidden just by walling them off from the city. Still exposed to the sky, the tombs were effectively hidden in the clusterfuck that is Moroccan city planning until the French started surveying and mapping in 1917.
Though it’s a short walk from the Medina, like usual, following the map in the Lonely Planet Morocco book was challenging. A nice young kid helped us in the right direction, by way of his uncle’s store (Berber lipstick, Berber toothpick, alum, etc…). Then we found a big sign stenciled high on a building pointing the way. In Morocco, nothing is obvious. You can’t just head out and expect that the way to a popular tourist spot will be even remotely obvious.
It was a Mines or Moria like passageway through a dense cluster of buildings. The lack of crowds made that a little creepy. Some kids “guided” us through it. Making a big deal of every turn saying how we would get lost on our own. Following the pattern, they pressed us for money just before reaching the other side. They don’t want to get caught bilking tourists, so they drop off as you get to official places.
As I remember, the admission was DH30, not DH10 as the book says. To enter the tombs, you go through a narrow adobe passageway that winds between the superstructures of the adjacent buildings. It was cool, but claustrophobic with the 50 people all pushing through together.
Once in the small courtyard, there are several structures where the Sherif are buried as well as many small graves throughout the courtyard with ornate monuments. The architecture is really cool. Though it is largely in disrepair.
We also saw this cat.
Definitely check this out if you visit Marrakesh. It’s worth an hour or two of your time, but don’t expect to stay very long.
To get to the Saadian Tombs Or Tombeaux Saadiens, head south by south east from Jemaa el-Fna on Rue Bab Agnaou towards Bab Agnau and the Kasbah Sidi Mansour. The tombs are located next to the Kasbah Mosque. Do if you get lost, the last thing you want to do is head towards a mosque. There is a mosque on every corner.