Situated close to the Menara Gardens and the Marrakech medina, the Agdal Gardens were created by the city founder, Abd al-Mu’min (1130 to 1163), of the Almohad dynasty who also undertook many of the city’s most significant building projects. The gardens, rejuvenated during the Saadien dynasty, were enlarged during Moulay Abderrahmane’s reign in the 19th Century.
The name of the gardens is derived from a Berber word meaning ‘walled meadow.’ Adjacent to the southern edge of the medina, the Agdal Gardens, or orchards, covering an area of approximately 700 acres, were created to function both as the caliph’s private pleasure garden and for the production of fruit.
Featuring rectangular orchards planted with apricot, fig, lemon, orange and pomegranate trees each linked by walkways lined with olive-trees, the gardens are irrigated by water channelled via an extensive khettara (underground network of ditches and channels) from the Ourika Valley.
A major feature of the gardens is the lake which was used to teach troops to swim, although in 1873 Sultan Mohammed IV actually died here following the capsizing of his steam launch. Next to the lake is a small minzah, or pavilion, known as Dar El Hana, believed to have been added as part of the gardens’ enlargement during the 19th Century.
Situated within the grounds’ northwest quadrant is Dar el-Beida, a palace reserved for use by the Alawi royal family when staying in Marrakech. Built during the 19th century, it is of a fairly modest in scale but richly decorated and well maintained due to its continuing use by members of the royal family and by visiting heads of state.