The Secret Garden

Riad Alkemia Staff

15 January 2022

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The Secret Garden

T his is truly a special place, which we really love, and it is only less than 3 minutes walk from riad Alkemia. And, if the Majorelle Garden is undoubtedly a must on your trip to Marrakech, the Secret Garden has nothing to envy. Especially if you know its fascinating history. In fact, like all historical palaces of all respect, even the Secret Garden has a lot of twists that go from the succession of sultans, to palace intrigues and even to a murder carried out with a poisoned cup of tea. It remains one of the places of the heart in the medina, where you can breathe a vibrant energy and beauty at every glance.

The garden

The current layout of the Secret Garden features an exotic garden and an Islamic one. The first, which brings together plants from all over the world, is inspired by the rich gardens of Marrakech. A city that, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, was conceived as a garden city. For example “a rose among the palms”, “an oasis in the desert” or “Al-Bahja”, the city of peace and open air, are some of its historical nicknames. And also the gardens of Agdal and Menara can show this idea.

The Islamic garden was restored maintaining what is presumed to be the nineteenth-century layout. Very similar to the concept of the riad, this type of garden was a true oasis of peace, dedicated to rest and contemplation under the shade of the trees and the intimacy of the enclosed space. The four-part layout of the Islamic garden (already found in the 6th century BC in the Persian gardens of Cyrus the Great), conceived to optimize the irrigation of the ground, recalls the description of paradise in the Quran. And the garden is conceived as a metaphor for paradise: that is, a sacred place, arranged according to rigid geometric rules, in which the Muslim order asserts itself over the wild disorder of nature.


As said, what makes this garden so special is not the palace but the traditional Islamic garden, fed by a khettara. It is an underground irrigation system that was introduced in the second half of the eleventh century thanks to a millenary hydraulic tradition and the proximity of the Atlas Mountains. A unique example in Morocco! These tunnels intercept the water from the groundwater and then distribute it to mosques, hammams, fountains and some buildings in the city. Among these there was also the Secret Garden, which therefore had its own water supply: a rare privilege and further sign of wealth. This original water system, consisting of skilfully connected pipes, tanks and canals, has been restored and is visible inside the garden.

A little bit of history

The origin of the Secret Garden dates back to around the second half of the 16th century, when the Saadian Sultan Moulay ‘Abd-Allah began to build what is now the Mouassine district. Unfortunately, like many other buildings in Marrakech, the palace was destroyed in the late 17th century after the decline of the Saadia dynasty.

Towards the middle of the 19th century the land on which the palace was built became the property of the kaid al-Hajj Abd-Allah U-Bihi who designed a new palace. Marrakech, at that time, was under development, and this encouraged the construction of gardens and rich mansions. Shortly thereafter, the kaid U-Bihi, suspected of power intrigues, was assassinated by the Sultan Muhammad IV with poisoned tea. So the property passed into the hands of the kadi Moulay Mustapha, an important judge who enjoyed the favor of the ruling family.

In 1912 the palace became the property of al-Hajj Muhammad Loukrissi, former head of the guild of watchmakers of Marrakech, who had been elected chamberlain to the Sultan Moulay ‘Abd-al-Hafiz in 1908. When, in 1912, the Sultan was exiled, Loukrissi moved into the palace, where he lived until his death in 1934. After that, the property was abandoned until 2008, when the idea was born to restore the building complex and then open it to the public. The Secret Garden was then reopened in 2016, after eight years of painstaking restoration works.



The garden is open all year, but at different times according to the seasons. Sometimes it hosts events and exhibitions. To find out the opening hours, the cost and how to enter, or if you want additional information, you can contact us at:

Book at riad Alkemia for an unforgettable stay in Marrakech and just 3 minutes walking from the Secret Garden.