One of the popular tourist attractions in Marrakech is the Jardin Majorelle Garden created over a forty-year period by French painter Jacques Majorelle. TripAdvisor currently has it listed as the number 1 (of 180) things to do in Marrakech. I would probably but the carriage rides ahead of the garden on my own personal list, but the gardens are a serene opportunity to explore and, if you add on the Berber Museum, learn more about local culture. At least from a historical perspective.
The gardens were created over four decades with plants from all five continents. It was a labor of love by the artist, whose residence was located at the garden as well. Majorelle hit on tough times, and was forced to sell plots of his ten acre garden, and eventually opened the garden to the public for a fee in 1947 to help offset his expenses. The garden eventually fell into disrepair. The garden was discovered in 1966 by Yves Saint Laurent, who saved it from becoming a hotel in 1980. Lauren and Pierre Berge purchased the plot and installed upgrades. An irrigation system was added and the number of plants more than doubled, from 135 to 300. When Yves Saint Laurent passed away in 2008, his ashes were brought to Jardin Majorelle and scattered. A monument now commemorates his contribution to the gardens.
The current garden sits on a more manageable plot of two and a half acres. Visitors enter the gardens past a fountain and can choose paths straight ahead or can veer off to the right towards the Berber Museum. The gardens are accented in Majorelle blue. The plants are arranged with water features, creating an additional sense of serenity. There are park benches located beneath covered walkways where visitors can pause to reflect on the quiet bliss of the gardens. Several species of birds make their home in the gardens, to include bulbul, blackbirds, sparrows, robins, blue tits, great tits, warblers, grey wagtails and turtledoves. The chirping birds and trickling water add to the peaceful atmosphere of the gardens.
The Berber Musuem at Jardin Majorelle charges an additional admission fee. The small museum is in the building that once served as Majorelle's painting studio. The Museum is divided into four rooms. Visitors walk up a ramp and enter into a small room that serves as an introduction. No photography is allowed within the museum, so I will not be supporting this with any photographs. The Museum was inaugurated on December 3, 2011. Room Two features Traditional Skills displaying items that demonstrate Berber craftsmanship. Room Three features Berber Jewels. It includes a variety of jewelry designed and worn by Berber women. Room Four exhibits Berber Finery. It contains a collection of festive costumes, carpets and musical instruments. The brief tour ends in the gift shop. The collection contains 600 objects dating from the eighteenth century through the 1960s.
Entrance to the gardens runs 70 dirham (approximately seven dollars US) with an additional 30 dirham charge for the Berber Musuem (approximately three dollars US). The price seemed about right considering the exhibits. The gardens are immaculately maintained and the museum carefully guarded by docents who also ensure that no photography is attempted. Behind the Museum is a YSL shop with YSL prices for those with money burning a hole in their pocket. The Garden and Museum are both wheelchair accessible.
Hours of Operation:
October 1 – April 30: 8 am – 5:30 pm
May 1 – September 30 : 8 am – 6 pm
The month of Ramadan: 9 am – 5 pm
With that, I will share a few more photographs.
All photos are my own. They may be reproduced with prior permission.