The Saadian Tombs refers to Marrakech’s series of mausoleums and tombs that host the remains of valuable figures. These include all the essential remains belonging to the Saadi Dynasty that ruled Morocco between the years 1549 and 1659. The sealing off and hiding of the Saadian Tombs happened shortly after the end of the dynasty kingdom. The rediscovery process of these Saadian Tombs occurred in the year 1917.
The construction & Design
The construction of the Saadian Tombs took place in the royal necropolis, which was in use as from the start of the 14th century. The Saadian Tombs achieved the lavish and more prominent status during the reign of the Saadi Sultan, identified as Ahmed el-Mansour. They got this status between the years 1578 and 1603.
The father of Ahmed el-Mansour, known as Mohammed ash-Sheikh, got murdered in the year 1557 and his buried at the site. Shortly after this incident, Ahmed el-Mansour started enlarging and embellishing all the burial ground. This process also involved building two magnificent mausoleums, all meant for himself, his descendants, his mother, and his father.
For the case of Ahmed al-Mansour’s mausoleum, it was the Hall of Twelve Columns. The contractors used the imported Italian Carrara marble, together with the gilding honeycomb muqarnas, to build this hall. The gilding honeycomb muqarnas used in this case was the type of ornamented vaulting. After this, they decorated the Hall of Twelve Columns with gold. Ahmed el-Mansour shares his Hall of Twelve Columns with some descendants and his closest family members. Also, he shares this Hall of Twelve Columns with Princes Zorha, who has a tomb that carries the epitaph.
The Saadian Tombs feature 66 princes and many other prominent figures that everyone desires to see. The Saadian Tombs host over 100 wives and chancellors, who rest closer to the mausoleum of Sultan, depending on their status. Amongst these are the graves of many trusted Jewish advisers, all who received much respect from Sultan.
The existence of the Saadian Tombs
The existence of the Saadian Tombs was under question after the end of the Saadian rule. The fear of doubt about their survival became even more apparent within two decades after the end of this ruling power. This change occurred when Moulay Ismail Ibn Sharif became the next head of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty between the years 1672 and 1727.
After entering power, Moulay Ismail aimed to eliminate all the evidence relating to the magnificent Saadi Dynasty. It is after this that he started to destroy and strip most of the famous buildings belonging to the Saad Dynasty. However, Moulay Ismail found it hard to demolish the burial ground because of fear. Instead, he decided to build a wall around the Saadian Tombs and then left a small entrance from the neighboring Kasbah Mosque.
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