25 Apr A visit to Le Jardin Secret in the Marrakech medina
By Mandy Sinclair
A well-kept tiny garden is worth more than a large abandoned field Moroccan Proverb
Marrakech, the bustling heart of tourism known for its snake charmers and thousand and one nights ambiance. But it’s also a city of gardens. Peaceful retreats tucked away in unassuming places often within the hustle and bustle of the red city, many in the heart of a riad, the traditional homes occupied by locals, yet quiet and calm as though miles away.
And on a recent visit to the Jardin Secret on Rue Mouassine in the Marrakech medina, we were transported to a tranquil space, entering via the exotic garden before reaching the serenity of the Islamic gardens.
Transferred to Al-Hajj Muhammad Loukrissi from Sultan Moulay Abd al-Hafiz in 1912, my guide tells me that Loukrissi lived in the residence with his three wives and many children until his death in 1934, leaving the building to fall in to a state of disrepair until the idea to renovate the garden was born in 2008.
As I wandered around in the late-afternoon sun, I quickly understood the wealth of the occupants given their water source that flowed from the Atlas Mountains, a sign of privilege, that also provided a source of water for the on-site hammam, another sign of luxury.
But I was interested in understanding more about Islamic gardens and their importance in the culture. At opposing ends stood two riads and from one of the terraces above, I could see the strict geometric rules applied to Islamic gardens, the required orderliness. As my guide explained, a garden is an oasis and explanations provided in the written material further explained that the quadripartite garden follows the Koranic description of paradise and as such the garden is a metaphor for paradise.
And as I admired a young mother wandering slowly with her young child, I certainly felt like I was in paradise, far from the hustle and bustle of the souks. Fountains splashed, birds flew overhead and the elegant benches throughout provided the perfect spot to sit and reflect. Just what I needed on an unseasonably warm spring day in Marrakech!
Cost: 50 dhs per person
Hours of operation: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.