Located in Marrakech, Morocco, the Saadian Tombs were built in the 16th century to be the final resting place for the Saadian royal family. However, after the fall of the Saadians, the tombs were sealed off and forgotten for centuries. The cemetery is located in the Kasbah Mosque, which is one of the oldest mosques in Morocco. Many authorities, consider the cemetery as the high point of Moroccan architecture and artisanry in the Saadian period.
Sultan Al Mansour wanted to build lavish tombs for himself and his family. About 60 family members were buried in the cemetery. After the fall of the Saadians, the Alaouite family gained power and they wanted to erase the traces of their predecessors. To avoid committing sacrilege by destroying a burial ground, they sealed off the Saadian tombs. The tombs were isolated and forgotten until their discovery in 1917 by the French.
The tombs are decorated with intricate carvings and colorful tiles. The carvings depict scenes from Islamic mythology and history. The floors and ceiling are decorated with unique mosaic tilework called zellige. The main hall, known as The Chamber of Twelve Columns, is the mausoleum of Al Mansour and his close family members and it is the most eye-catching part of the cemetery. The columns are made of Carrara marble and they support gilding honeycomb muqarnas, a type of ornamented vaulting. The tombs in the garden were reserved for the other family members of the royal family and the prominent people of the time.
Because they were hidden for centuries, the tombs are remarkably well-preserved. The intricate and impressive carvings showcase the craftsmanship of the time, allowing the visitors to witness the grandeur of the Saadian royal family.