Le Jardin Secret

Top choice in Mouassine & Central Souqs

The foundations of this historic riad are more than 400 years old, and it was once owned by powerful qaid (local chief) U-Bihi. Here, though, it's not the building but the traditional Islamic garden that is so special. Fed by a restored original khettara (underground irrigation system), the gardens are set up as a living museum to demonstrate the ancient waterworks. There's a good cafe on its ramparts and a tower with views across the medina (not worth the extra fee).

Khettara were first introduced to Marrakesh by the Almoravids in the 11th century to distribute water to the mosques, hammams and fountains of the growing metropolis. They are unique to Morocco, and the irrigation system at Le Jardin Secret was only discovered when workers started digging out the riad to restore it. The complex is divided into two parts, one planted as an exotic garden, the other as a traditional Islamic garden with fig, date, pomegranate and olive groves.

The bare riad chambers include excellent exhibits (in English, French and Arabic) on the riad's history, the importance of water in Islamic society and the role of gardens in Marrakesh culture. High-tech screens use CGI to expertly show the flow of water around the site, and there's also a fascinating documentary on the restoration process.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Mouassine & Central Souqs attractions

1. Souq des Teinturiers

0.04 MILES

The dyers souq is one of Marrakesh's most colourful markets, with skeins of coloured wool draped from the rafters above stalls. However, very little…

2. Funduq El Mizen

0.06 MILES

Some of Marrakesh's fanadiq (inns once used by travelling caravans) are named after the activities that once took place within, as is the case with this…

3. Funduq El Amri

0.06 MILES

This well-preserved funduq (inn once used by caravans) would have once been the staging post for medieval merchants selling sugar and tea, but today the…

4. Mouassine Fountain

0.06 MILES

The medina had 80 fountains at the start of the 20th century; each neighbourhood had its own, providing water for cooking, public baths, orchards and…

5. Musée de Mouassine


While house-hunting in the medina, Parisian Patrick Menac'h stumbled across a historic treasure of great cultural significance. Beneath the layers of…

6. Musée de la Femme


Spread over three floors, Marrakesh's Museum of Women was launched in 2018 by a passionate bunch of locals intent on championing women's important role in…

7. Zawiya Sidi Abd El Aziz


On the corner where Rue Amesfah splits, note the jewel-like door with stained glass, centuries-old carved wooden lintel and plasterwork detailing in the…

8. Almoravid Koubba

0.15 MILES

The Almohads destroyed almost everything their Almoravid predecessors built in Marrakesh but overlooked this graceful 12th-century koubba (shrine) across…