Agdal and Menara Gardens, MOROCCO
- Keywords: Morocco, Cultural Landscape, Agdal, Menara, Historic gardens, Arab design, Almohad, Alawi, Caliph 'Abd al-Mu'min, palmeraie, Marrakesh, Medina.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
The Agdal and Menara Gardens were listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, as a part of the Médina of Marrakesh, criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)(v), property: 1,107 ha, and ef: 331. The Agdal Gardens has been recognized internationally by the “Premio Internazionale Carlo Scapa per il Giardino” (Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, 2000).
- World heritage list of UNESCO
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
A landscape designed and created intentionally by human being
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
The Historic Gardens of Marrakesh, comprising the Agdal Garden and The Menara Garden, compose together a Cultural Landscape in category 1: “A landscape designed and created by human being”. Both gardens are part of the Medina of Marrakesh, recognized by UNESCO (World Heritage List, 1985). -Agdal Gardens: The Agdal Gardens in Marrakesh are the origin of a fundamental garden type, the Islamic agdal garden. The gardens were constructed in 1157 by Almohad Caliph ‘Abd al-Mu’min bin ‘Ali al-Kumi (reg. 1130-63) at the same time as the nearby Menara Gardens. ‘Abd al-Mu’min was the founder of the Almohad capital in Marrakech, and he undertook many significant building projects in the city between 1147 and his death in 1163. The Agdal Gardens were established directly adjacent to the southern edge of the Médina, and they functioned both as productive orchards and private pleasure gardens for the caliph. Much larger than the nearby Menara Gardens, the Agdal Gardens and their reservoirs directly served the medina and its residents. The word “agdal” is a Berber term which means “meadow enclosed by a stone wall.” It is said that the Agdal Gardens in Marrakech were so named because visiting Berber Tribes from the Atlas mountains associated their native panoramas of green meadows framed by tall mountains with the walled landscape of the urban gardens. The Agdal Gardens are essentially rectangular in shape, with a relatively small rectangular section removed at their northwest corner. The gardens are 3.1 kilometers long and between 1.2 and 1.4 kilometers wide. The vast majority of the land within the Agdal Gardens is given over to productive orchards. Various trees and bushes are planted in grids whose rows range between five and ten meters wide, depending on the type of tree or plant. The entire site is subdivided by a network of paths into a patchwork of smaller gardens, within which one species of plant is cultivated, this strict rationalism in organization is typical of the Hispano-Mauresque productive garden. -Menara Gardens: The Menara gardens are located to the west of the city, at the gates of the Atlas mountains. They were built around 1130 by the Almohad ruler Abd al-Mu’min. The name menara derives from the pavilion with its small green pyramid roof (menzeh). The pavilion was built during the 16th century Saadi dynasty and renovated in 1869 by sultan Abderrahmane of Morocco, who used to stay here in summertime. The pavilion and a nearby artificial lake are surrounded by orchards and olive groves. The lake was created to irrigate the surrounding gardens and orchards using a sophisticated system of underground channels called a qanat. The basin is supplied with water through an old hydraulic system which conveys water from the mountains located approximately 30 kilometres away from Marrakech. There is also a small amphitheater and a symmetrical pool.
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Agdal, Menara.
- Current denomination Agdal, Menara.
- Original denomination Agdal, Menara.
- Popular denomination Agdal, Menara.
- Address: Medina of Marrakesh.
- Geographical coordinates: Medina of Marrakesh: N31 37 53.004, W7 59 12.012.
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: Located to the north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, by road Marrakesh is located 580 km southwest of Tangier, 327 km southwest of the Moroccan capital of Rabat, 239 km southwest of Casablanca, and 246 km northeast of Agadir.
- Access and transport facilities: Today the Agdal Gardens are accessible to the public for several hours each Friday and Sunday, as long as the royal family is not in residence at the Dar el-Beida. When the Dar el-Beida is in use, the whole of the Agdal Gardens are reserved for the pleasure of the sovereign and his guests. The Menara Gardens are accessible to the public and they continue to serve as a relaxing and picturesque oasis outside of the crowded Médina.
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Moroccan Government.
- Body responsible for the maintenance: Moroccan Government.
- Public or private organizations working in the site: FUNCI (Spain) is currently (2013) developoing the "Project de Réhabilitation Integrale de L'Agdal de Marrakech", together with the AECID (Spanish Government) and the Moroccan Government.
-Marrakesh. General Overview: The capital of the Almoravids and the Almohads played a decisive role in the development of medieval planning. Marrakesh (which gave its name to the Moroccan Empire) is the textbook example of a large Islamic capital in the Western world. With its maze of narrow streets, houses, souks (markets), traditional crafts and trade activities, and its medina, this ancient settlement is an outstanding example of a vibrant historic city. Marrakesh was founded in 1071-72 by Youssef ben Tachfin on the site of the camp where Abou Bekr had left him in charge. From that point forward, Marrakesh was no longer an occasional stopping place for the Almoravids. It became the true capital of these conquering nomads who succeeded in stretching their empire from the Sahara to the Ebro and from the Atlantic to Kabylia. The original layout of the medina dates back to the Almoravid period from which there still remain various monumental vestiges (ruins of the so-called Abou Bekr Kasbah, Youssef ben Tachfin Mosque and Ali ben Youssef Palace, not far from the Koutoubia, the pool and the ‘Koubba’ of Ali ben Youssef Mosque which were discovered in 1955, Bab Aylan gate, etc.). In essence it is an adaptation of the older urban model of Marrakesh. The walls of the medina were built in 1126-27 following the order given by Ali ben Youssef. The planting of the palm groves, which at the present still cover a surface area of roughly 13,000 ha to the east of the city, has also been credited to the Almoravids. When in 1147 this dynasty bowed to the attacks of the Almohads led by Abdel Mou’men, the task of purification that was carried out did not spare the monuments which, for the most part, were destroyed by the victors. Nevertheless Marrakesh remained the capital. Under the Almohad rulers (1147-1269), Marrakesh experienced new and unprecedented prosperity. Between 1147 and 1158, Abd el Mou’men had the Koutoubia Mosque built upon the ruins of the Almoravid foundations. Its incomparable minaret, key monument of Muslim architecture, is one of the major features of the cityscape and is the actual symbol of the city. The ruler’s successors, Abou Yacoub Youssef and especially Yacoub el Mansour, were the ones who truly renovated the capital. They built new quarters, extended the city wall, fortified the Kasbah (1185-90) which was a prolongation of the city to the south with its own ramparts and gates (Bab Agnaou, Bab Robb), its mosque, palace, market, hospital, parade-ground and gardens. These leaders strengthened their control over their domains by planting crops (Menara to the west) and by civil engineering achievements, the best known of which are the Tensift Bridge and the kettara network in the palm groves. Under the reign of the Alawite dynasty, Marrakesh, the temporary capital, was graced with a new mosque, madrasas, palaces and residences harmoniously integrated into the homogeneous unit of the old town, which was surrounded by 10 km of clay and lime and beaten-cob ramparts. Beyond the walls were the great traditional areas of greenery: the palm groves, the Menara and, to the south, the Agdal gardens that were redesigned by Moulay Abd er Rahman (1822-59). -The Agdal Gardens: The gardens were constructed in 1157 by Almohad Caliph ‘Abd al-Mu’min bin ‘Ali al-Kumi (reg. 1130-63) at the same time as the nearby Menara Gardens. ‘Abd al-Mu’min was the founder of the Almohad capital in Marrakech, and he undertook many significant building projects in the city betw by Almohad Caliph ‘Abd al-Mu’min bin ‘Ali al-Kumi (reg. 1130-63). The Agdal Gardens were established directly adjacent to the southern edge of the Médina, and they functioned both as productive orchards and private pleasure gardens for the caliph. Much larger than the nearby Menara Gardens, the Agdal Gardens and their reservoirs directly served the medina and its residents. -The Menara Gardens: The Menara Gardens in Marrakech were constructed during the early years of the Almohad dynasty. In 1147, Almohad forces under Caliph ‘Abd al-Mu’min (reg. 1130-1163) conquered the Almoravid capital of Marrakech. Between 1147 and his death in 1163, ‘Abd al-Mu’min undertook several large building projects in the city, which became the capital of his empire. The Menara Gardens and its large central reservoir were built during this period to serve as both productive orchards and personal pleasure gardens for the caliph. The gardens were maintained during the centuries after Almohad rule by the Marinids and the Sa’did Sharifs, and a pavilion structure originally erected by the Sa’dis was rebuilt by ‘Alawid Sharif Moulay Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Rahman (reg. 1859-1873) in the late nineteenth century.
- Oldest initial date /building and inauguration date: The gardens were constructed in 1157.
- Original and successive owners: See point 4.1.
- Authors: The gardens were created as an orchard by Abd al-Mu'min of the Almohad dynasty in the 12th century.
- Dates of successive recycling to the original layout: Renovated by the Saadi dynasty and then enlarged and enclosed by Moulay Abderrahmane (19th).
- Historical and/or outstanding personalities involved: See previous points.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Pleasure
- Geography: High Mountain
- Site topography: Natural
- Climate and environmental conditions: A hot semi-arid climate predominates at Marrakesh, with mild damp winters and hot dry summers. Average temperatures range from 12 degrees celsius in the winter to 28-29 degrees celsius in the summer. The relatively wet winter/dry summer precipitation pattern of Marrakesh mirrors precipitation patterns found in Mediterranean climates. However the city receives less rain than is typically found in a Mediterranean climate, hence the semi-arid climate classification. Between 1961 and 1990 the city averaged 281.3 millimetres of rain annually.
- Geological and Geographical characteristics: Marrakesh is located to the north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. The snow covered High Atlas (generally at an elevation of above 3,000 metres and mostly made up of Jurassic limestones in Morocco lies along the coast of the Atlantic. It rises to the east of Agadir and extends into Algeria in a northeast direction and then finally disappears in Tunisia.
The city’s gardens feature numerous native plants alongside other species that have been imported over the course of the centuries, including giant bamboos, yuccas, papyrus, palm trees, banana trees, cypress, philodendrons, rose bushes, bougainvilleas, pines and various kinds of cactus plants. -Agdal Gardens (inventory): Malva sp., Asparagus albus, Chenopodium sp., Pistacia atlantica, Rubre peregrina, Poaceas, Conovolvulus sp., Gallium sp., Bryonia dioica, Lonicera biflora, Atriplex, Celtis australis, Ephedra fragilis, Euphorbia sp., Ficus carica, Olea europaea, Oxalis pes-capre, Rubus ulmifolius. -Menara Gardens: Mostly occupied by orchards of olive, cypress, and fruit trees. The trees in the orchards are planted on a ten-meter grid, imposing a strict regularity on the landscape.
Land uses and economical activities:Agriculture. Tourism. Research.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:Beyond the hectares of greenery and the palm trees of its Palmeraie, Marrakesh is an oasis of great and rich plant variety. Throughout the seasons, fragrant orange, fig, pomegranate and olive trees display their color and fruits in the gardens of the city such as Agdal Garden and Menara Garden.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
The gardens are located in the Medina of Marrakesh. Theay are both interesting because of their design, their beauty and the historic and cultural significance associated to them. The Agdal Gardens are 3.1 kilometers long and between 1.2 and 1.4 kilometers wide. The vast majority of the land within the Agdal Gardens is given over to productive orchards. Various trees and bushes are planted in grids whose rows range between five and ten meters wide, depending on the type of tree or plant. The entire site is subdivided by a network of paths into a patchwork of smaller gardens, within which one species of plant is cultivated, this strict rationalism in organization is typical of the Hispano-Mauresque productive garden. The Menara Gardens are specially famous because of its pavilion and its small green pyramid roof (menzeh). The pavilion and a nearby artificial lake are surrounded by orchards and olive groves. There is also a small amphitheater and a symmetrical pool.
5.2. Cultural Heritage
A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general
Architectonical elements /Sculptures:
AGDAL GARDENS The Agdal Gardens are essentially rectangular in shape, with a relatively small rectangular section removed at their northwest corner. The longitudinal axis of the site is its north-south axis, rotated counter-clockwise from the north-south meridian. The gardens are 3.1 kilometers long and between 1.2 and 1.4 kilometers wide. The rectangular area that is cutout from the northwest corner of the rectangular parcel measures 620 meters long and 450 meters wide. The vast majority of the land within the Agdal Gardens is given over to productive orchards. Various trees and bushes are planted in grids whose rows range between five and ten meters wide, depending on the type of tree or plant. The entire site is subdivided by a network of paths into a patchwork of smaller gardens, within which one species of plant is cultivated, this strict rationalism in organization is typical of the Hispano-Mauresque productive garden. All paths within the garden are lined by a single row of olive trees planted ten meters on center. Beyond this edge of olive trees are orchards of lemon, cypress, olive, and orange trees. Another notable work of architecture within the Agdal Gardens is the Dar el-Beida. This palace is reserved for use by the ‘Alawi royal family when they are in residence in Marrakech. The palace is relatively modest in scale but has been richly decorated and well-maintained due to its continuing use as a royal residence. The rectangular plan of the Dar el-Beida is 120 meters wide and 142 meters long. The west wall of the palace is located 330 meters east of the western edge of the gardens, and the north wall of the palace is located 870 meters south of the northern boundary of the gardens. This places the Dar el-Beida in the northwest quadrant of the garden grounds. The palace was built centuries later than the rest of the gardens by ‘Alawi Sharif Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Hisham (reg. 1822-1859). The palace and the other pavilions in the Agdal Garden were subsequently renovated by his successor Sidi Muhammad IV bin ‘Abd al-Rahman (reg. 1859-1873). The gardens are irrigated using a number of pools and ditches. A network of underground channels and ditches, known as khettera, bring water down from the High Atlas mountains many kilometres away, via Aghmat in the Ourika Valley to the south. The Dar El Hana, a small pavilion or minzah, stands beside the largest pool, the Sahraj el-Hana (Tank of Health), which was used to train troops to swim. Sultan Mohammed IV died in the pool when his steam launch capsized there in 1873. His successor, Sultan Moulay Hassan, housed his harem in another pavilion in the gardens, the Dar al Baida. MENARA The pavilion and basin (an artificial lake) are surrounded by orchards and olive groves. The intention of the basin was to irrigate the surrounding gardens and orchards using a sophisticated system of underground channels called a qanat. The basin is supplied with water thanks to an old hydraulic system which conveys water from the mountains located 30 km approximately away from Marrakech. The Menara Gardens are approximately 720 meters wide east to west and 1.25 kilometers long north to south. The longitudinal axis of the gardens is rotated twenty-seven degrees counter-clockwise from the north-south meridian. While the gardens are within the city limits of present-day Marrakech, at the time of their construction they were located two kilometers outside of the city walls. To allow ‘Abd al-Mu’min convenient access from his home inside the city walls, the garden gate was connected by a direct road to Bab al-Mahzan (1126-1147), the city gate that opened directly into the caliphal palace in the Medina. The Bab al-Mahzan, the road, and the Almohad palace to which it led were destroyed after the fall of the Almohad empire in the thirteenth century. Today the gardens are connected to the Médina by the Avenue de la Menara. The main feature of the Menara Gardens is the large reservoir located in its center. The reservoir is 160 meters wide east to west and 195 meters long north to south, its long axis rotated from the north-south meridian to align with the grid of the gardens. In order to provide irrigation to the surrounding orchards without the need for constant pumping, the reservoir was constructed entirely above ground. A complex network of underground irrigation channels relies on gravity to drain water from the main reservoir through the channels and distribute it evenly through the gardens. The elevated reservoir is surrounded by a five meter wide terrace along its perimeter. Several narrow stairways, each 2.5 meters wide, are spaced at irregular intervals around the perimeter of the basin to provide access to the terrace from the ground level of the garden. The edge of the stone basin and terrace are extremely sober in their articulation, with clean rectangular forms and almost no ornamentation. The austerity of the architectural detailing reinforces the character of the Menara Gardens as a working landscape. The only exception to the strict geometric framework of the garden grid is the principal entry road, which leads from the main gate on the eastern edge of the garden to a handsome pavilion at the center of the south side of the Menara basin. The nineteen-meter-wide pedestrian path was constructed or reconstructed under the ‘Alawid dynasty, centuries later than the other dirt paths between the trees. Within the enclosure is a small square pavilion, measuring twelve meters to a side in plan. The two-story pavilion is approximately fourteen meters tall. A rectangular loggia measuring twelve meters wide and four meters long projects from the north elevation of the otherwise square structure. Three arched openings on the ground floor of the north elevation of the loggia lead to a platform raised approximately 0.5 meters above the main promenade around the reservoir. The second level and balcony are located approximately four meters above the ground level of the pavilion. Passage through the pavilion along its north-south axis allows entry to the raised basin terrace from the small garden enclosure to the south. The pavilion is decorated plainly, to match the simplicity of the rest of the architecture of the basin and gardens. The two-story pavilion was built in pisé, or rammed earth, with decorative brick quoins at the corners and cornices. The structure possesses the reddish hue characteristic of pisé work in Marrakesh, where the red dirt of the region colors many earthwork structures. The upper cornice directly below the roofline of the pavilion features bands of geometric tilework. The pyramidal roof is covered in green ceramic tiles, a roofing material typical among royal and institutional buildings in Marrakesh. While its proportions and composition are harmonious, the north elevation of the pavilion, including the loggia and balcony, is almost completely unadorned. Much more attention was paid to the decoration of the south elevation. The threshold on the south elevation of the pavilion is defined by a round arch in pisé that was subsequently painted to appear as if it were constructed of brick. The spandrel between the arch and a raised rectangular pisé enclosure is adorned with painted geometric motifs and Arabic inscriptions. Three rectangular windows on the upper part of the south elevation are similarly framed by raised pisé borders. These borders are painted with a series of Rub el Hizb, eight-pointed stars traditionally used as an ordering symbol in the Koran. The casement windows contain leaded glass panes in wood sashes, with operable wood shutters that open to the exterior. These wood shutters are painted in blue, green, white, and red tones with multicolored geometric motifs at their centers. Each of the three windows is capped by a simple, two-tiered rectangular cornice moulding and decorative pisé relief panels with concave-arc profiles. The interior of the structure features several examples of fine multicolored stucco work, primarily defining the undersides and spandrels of pointed-arched openings in the thick interior walls. The multicolored patterns of the sculpted stucco sharply contrast with the otherwise starkly white painted walls. The floors inside the pavilion are covered by large tiles in either monochrome or checkered patterns. A set of carved and painted ornamental wooden doors border the archway that provides access to the interior stairway leading to the balcony.
In the case of gardens: original and current style:Agdal and Menara Gardens: Style/Period: Alawi, Almohad
Man-made elements related to water management:
Roads, paths, trails, walking/mechanical ways:
AGDAL: The entire site is subdivided by a network of paths into a patchwork of smaller gardens, within which one species of plant is cultivated, this strict rationalism in organization is typical of the Hispano-Mauresque productive garden. All paths within the garden are lined by a single row of olive trees planted ten meters on center. Beyond this edge of olive trees are orchards of lemon, cypress, olive, and orange trees. MENARA: Pathways through the garden fit into the logic of the grid, as ten-meter wide dirt paths fit between rows of trees to divide the field into approximately twenty-five rectangular parcels of varying sizes and orientations. The nineteen-meter-wide pedestrian path was constructed or reconstructed under the ‘Alawid dynasty, centuries later than the other dirt paths between the trees. The entry path terminates at the eastern edge of a small enclosed garden measuring thirty-eight meters wide east to west and fifty-two meters long north to south. This enclosure is aligned with the main grid of the gardens, and its north edge borders the south edge of the elevated reservoir, just slightly to the west of the basin’s center. The small sub-garden, lushly planted with a wide variety of trees and flowering plants, functions as a physical and conceptual threshold between the city behind and the water beyond.
B) Related to ancient remains
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: It is said that the Agdal Gardens in Marrakech were so named because visiting Berber Tribes from the Atlas mountains associated their native panoramas of green meadows framed by tall mountains with the walled landscape of the urban gardens.
Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:Most of the hydraulic infraestructures of Agdal Gardens are useless and damaged. Also walls, basins and pavilions need restoration.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:
-Agdal Garddens. -Menara Gardens.
Authenticity:Both gardens are included in the Medida of Marrakesh contributing to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The Historic Gardens of Marrakesh represent a way of relation betẃeen human-being and nature, keeping the traditional islamic rules.
Universality:Due to its still protected, original and well conserved conception, its construction materials and decoration in constant use, and its natural environment (notably the Gardens of Aguedal, Ménara and the Palm Grove (Palmeraie) the plantation of which is attributed to the Almoravids), the Medina of Marrakesh possesses all its initial components both cultural and natural that illustrate its Outstanding Universal Value. Med-O-Med describes the universality of the gardens according to UNESCO criteria: i) Both gardens represent a masterpiece of human creative genius. The creation of Agdal and Menara Garden was made possible due to intelligent and innovative engineering solutions and a sophisticated water-management system, as well as the appropriate choice of flora and its location in the garden layout. Indeed, the Islamic Garden has been associated with the idea of earthly Paradise, forming a stark contrast to its desert setting. ii) The Agdal and Menara gardens exhibits an important interchange of human values, having been the principal reference for the development of garden design, mainly in Morocco and Spain. It is the geometry and symmetry of the architecture, together with the complex water management system, that seem to have influenced design in all these gardens. iii) The Agdal and Menara Gardens bear exceptional, and even unique, testimony to the cultural traditions that have evolved in Iran and the Middle East over some two and a half millennia. The Agdal Gardens in Marrakech were so named because visiting Berber Tribes from the Atlas mountains associated their native panoramas of green meadows framed by tall mountains with the walled landscape of the urban gardens. iv) These gardens are an outstanding example of a type of garden design achieved by utilising natural and human elements and integrating significant achievements of Arabic culture into a physical and symbolic-artistic expression in harmony with nature.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:These gardens are an outstanding example of a type of garden design achieved by utilising natural and human elements and integrating significant achievements of Arabic culture into a physical and symbolic-artistic expression in harmony with nature.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
Historic Gardens of Marrakesh: Agdal and Menara Gardens” is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Morocco which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
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Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.