Travel Report: Majorelle Garden, Marrakesh.
October, 2008. Marrakesh can be quite a hectic experience for travellers. From the constant buzz of the Medina to the nightly crowds of Jemaa el-Fnaa, this can often feel like a city that never lets up. As a result, I was keen to mix up my itinerary with some peaceful spots away from the main drag. In this respect, it certainly doesn’t get any more chilled than Majorelle Garden, especially if you get here early and beat the crowds.
There are gardens and parks in every city, right? And we certainly don’t have time to see them all. However, I bet you won’t have visited many with a backstory like Majorelle Garden. The famed French painter Jacques Majorelle created this city oasis and spent an incredible forty years of his life expanding it. You can certainly see the dedication that went into the place. There are shaded pathways, pretty ponds, marble fountains and all manner of wildlife buzzing and fluttering around the exotic trees, plants and flowers.
Photo courtesy of jardinmajorelle.com.
Majorelle moved to Marrakesh in the late 1920s, due to his fascination with Islamic culture. Furthermore, he considered the city an excellent base from which to explore Africa. It was from Marrakesh that Majorelle produced many of his great landscape paintings. He also produced posters advertising Morocco as a tourist destination. In 1923 he purchased four acres of land and set to work sculpting his dream garden complex, a place he could escape to and find inspiration through nature.
Majorelle Garden, Marrakesh.
Over the years, the garden grew into an amazing fourteen acres and by 1937 Majorelle had added a villa, which he painted a deep shade of blue. This colour scheme can be seen throughout the garden and has become so recognisable in Morocco it’s now referred to as Majorelle Blue.
Majorelle opened his garden to the public in 1947 for the reason that it had become too expensive to maintain. However, by the mid 1950s, his carefully cultivated masterpiece was in disrepair and things only got worse following Majorelle’s death in 1962.
It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that, at long last, the garden got the makeover it so desperately needed and deserved. Fascinatingly, it was none other than fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent who spearheaded the movement! Apparently he was a huge fan of Majorelle’s art.
Consequently, he also made it his mission to collect the man’s key works. When Yves himself died in 2008 his life partner Pierre Bergé made sure to scatter his ashes within the garden. This touching memorial meanwhile stands as a tribute to his part in the garden’s amazing story.
Before you leave, don’t forget to check out the small bamboo grove. This is where visitors leave their mark with carved initials and messages. They say Yves Saint Laurent’s signature is in there somewhere.
For more on Majorelle Garden, including opening hours and entrance fees, check out their website.
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