Home to hundreds of exotic plants and peacefully shaded grounds, the Majorelle Garden provides a nice reprieve from the bustling streets and souks of Marrakesh. The impressive gardens house a collection of exotic bamboo, cactuses and palms from around the world and provide a haven for many local birds like storks, kestrals and flycatchers. The botanical garden also houses the Islamic Art Museum featuring North African textiles, jewelry, carpets and other Islamic treasures.
In 1919, Jacques Majorelle, an expatriate French painter, settled in Morocco and purchased the land that would eventually become Majorelle Garden. He created a beautiful home, workshop and vast garden where he could dabble in his hobby of growing exotic plants and trees. The gardens opened to the public in 1947, but severely deteriorated after his death in 1962.
In 1980, fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé purchased Majorelle’s former home and spearheaded major restorations of the grounds. In 2001, Saint Laurent and Bergé created a foundation to ensure the protection and maintenance of the garden for years to come. Today, the grounds are wonderfully maintained and newly constructed walkways, fountains and shady gazebos have added to the tranquility of the gardens.
A Museum Worth A Visit
Majorelle’s old workshop is the home of the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakesh. The museum houses the private collections of Saint Laurent and Bergé as well as some of Jacques Majorelle’s artwork. The exterior of the old workshop was painted an intense blue, now known as Majorelle blue. Majorelle must have been captivated by this particular shade of blue, which is seen throughout Morocco in adobe homes, Moroccoan tiles and Berber burnouses.
Today you can visit the Majorelle Gardens and the Islamic Art Museum every day of the year, including holy days. A small admission fee is charged to enter the garden and an additional fee is required to enter the museum. Majorelle’s main residence is still privately owned by Pierre Bergé and is off limits to visitors. Saint Laurent passed away in 2008 and his ashes were scattered throughout Marjorelle Garden.
Written by Amiee Maxwell.
Photo by guillenperez.