If you read one of Travel Vivi’s previous posts – Holidays to Morocco, you will come across a short but interesting introduction to the captivating city of Marrakech. Truly, this stunning Moroccan getaway deserves to be called one of South Africa’s must-see destinations, as it offers visitors a full range of cultural and natural attractions that never fail to amaze visitors with their charm, importance and beauty.
Among these attractions is the breathtaking Jardin Majorelle, a majestic botanical garden created in 1920s by French painter Jacques Majorelle, who fell in love with the intense light of Morocco after he took up residence in the medina in Marrakesh.
In 1922 he bought a palm grove just outside the city and in 1931 he commissioned architect Paul Sinoir to build him a Moorish Art-deco style villa of outstanding modernity, structured around a long central pool, and surrounded by a fascinating garden and a separate bright blue workshop. He planted the garden with lush vegetation, including many species of cactus, aloe, palm, succulent, bougainvilleas, yucca and bamboo brought back from different corners of the world, creating a contrast of color, shape and form in a variety of different environments.
In 1937 the artist created an ultramarine blue that was both bright and intense, known as ‘Majorelle Blue,’ which the artist had noticed in the zellige tile work around the city and painted the walls of his studio and then the entire garden, transforming it into a living tableau which he opened to public in 1947.
Following a car accident Majorelle returned to Paris, where he died in 1962, without fully appreciating the desert oasis he had created. After his death the garden fell into neglect until the year of 1980, when it was purchased by the world-famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge, who restored the gardens to their former glory. Yves Saint Laurent asked to scatter his ashes in the garden after his death.
After Saint Laurent death in 2008, his partner decided to donate the Garden to the Foundation Pierre Berge – Yves Saint Laurent and ever since it has been open to tourists.
The painting studio was converted into Berber Museum of Islamic Arts, displaying the owners’ personal collection, which contains carpets, cobalt blue pottery, Berber and Tuareg jewelry, textiles, furniture, wedding curtains, as well as ancient doors from various countries. Another room is dedicated to Majorelle’s engravings and paintings depicting the Moroccan landscape.
Within the garden visitors will find a shallow pale turquoise pool with a blue central fountain. A long axial pool runs perpendicular to the pond, and ends at a nice pavilion painted mint green hues and featuring a carved white stucco band and a green glazed tile of roof in the Moroccan style. You can also see colorful bougainvilleas planted on walls, as well as a large square pond, showcasing a beautiful collection of water lilies.
Inside the garden visitors there is a nice boutique selling amazing locally made goods, and although Western prices, the quality and diversity of the products make them worth it. On the far side of the garden stands a simple monument dedicated to Saint Laurent, a marble plinth with an ancient weathered fluted column standing at it’s center.
The museum is visited by over six hundred thousand people, both locals and tourists.
Jardin Majorelle is open 7 days a month, during October 1 through April 30 from 8am to 5:30pm, May 1 through September 30 from 8am to 5pm, and during the month of Ramadan from 9am to 5pm.
Admission to the Garden is 50 Dhs and Museum – 25 Dhs, while discounts are available for Moroccan and foreign university students (30 Dhs) but for Garden only. Children under 9 years accompanied by adults can enter to both Garden and Museum for free.