Marrakech's Blue House: A Visit to the Jardin Majorelle
By: Claire Boyle/Arab America Contributing Writer
In May 2017, A study abroad in Morocco with faculty and students in undergrad changed my life. Morocco is such a beautiful country with its amazing architecture, art, food, culture, and history. A favorite moment from the study abroad was visiting the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco. After traveling to Morocco on a 14-hour flight from Chicago to Casablanca with a stop in Montreal, we visited a café to drink coffee and eat some gazelle horn cookies (a kind of Moroccan cookie). We then made our way to Marrakech to see the eternally beautiful and majestic Jardin Majorelle in Morocco.
History of the Jardin Majorelle
The Jardin Majorelle is a “botanical and artist’s landscape garden in Marrakech, Morocco.” Additionally, these phenomenally-beautiful gardens were “designed by the French artist, Jacques Majorelle over a period of forty years.” Furthermore, the gardens were also “restored by the French Algerian fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent” who later on in the 1980s purchased the Jardin Majorelle and lived in it for a while. There is a villa-type house on the property that was built in the Cubist art-style which was designed by the architect, Paul Sinoir. Before the Jardin Majorelle was saved by Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime business partner, Pierre Bergé, the beautiful garden was slated to be torn down as it had fallen into disrepair. Thankfully, Bergé and Saint Laurent saved this mystical piece of art and cultural history that has now become famous within the city of Marrakech.
The Jardin Majorelle’s Status as an Historical Landmark
The Jardin Majorelle has now been made into a museum. Actually, Jacques Majorelle made the gardens open to the public before they fell into disrepair to assist with the upkeep and maintenance costs especially since there were so many plants and beautiful architecture to take care of. Eventually, when Saint Laurent and Bergé came on the scene, they had it restored, and after the fashion designer’s death in 2008, the property came into the possession of the “Foundation Pierre Bergé—Yves Saint Laurent, a French not-for-profit organization.” An interesting fact is that after Saint Laurent died, his ashes were actually scattered all over the property as well. The Jardin Majorelle has since been expanded to include a museum dedicated to the Berber people and their arts, a café, and a boutique gift shop. The gardens and house and the other places are fully open to the public for tours of this amazing landmark.
Exploring Around the Jardin Majorelle
As you can see from the photos above, the gardens and plants that make up the scenery around the Jardin Majorelle are quite lush, green, and beautiful. The plants that were rooted in the grounds at the Jardin Majorelle were put there by Jacques Majorelle. In fact, the botanical sights we see on the property became a rather expensive passion for him. During the forty years that it took Majorelle to establish this heavenly place, he planted “135 plant species from five continents including cacti, yucca, jasmine, bougainvillea, palms, coconut trees, banana trees, white water lilies, bamboo and more.”
An interesting thing about the gardens themselves is that they have this Zen-like vibe in the middle of Morocco that is a country in North Africa. Being that Spain and Morocco are so close together, one would think that the Spanish influence is prominent, but at least in the Jardin Majorelle, it is not. The reason I say this is because the garden has these tall bamboo trees which would be more representative of somewhere in Asia, and yes, a Koi fish pond!
The house on the Jardin Majorelle property, as mentioned above, is of the Cubist style designed by Paul Sinoir. The house also has an Arabesque-like quality being that there are these sage green porticos/archways that appear to be in the traditional Arabic art style. The house’s most outstanding feature is its unique and distinct color of blue paint. Did you know that shade of blue is its own special color? Yes, that blue is called Majorelle Blue, and it was trademarked as such by Jacques Majorelle when he constructed this magnificent place. Majorelle saw this color in “Moroccan tiles, Berber burnouses, and in the windows of kasbahs and native adobe homes.” Additionally, the house sort of creates an intersection between European and Moroccan architecture being that it crosses Cubism and Arab elements of design as seen in these stunning windows below.
Photographs are not allowed in the Berber Museum, but online you can find many official photos taken by the Jardin Majorelle itself.
The museum had beautiful clothing of the Berber people, items, and other important artifacts that are a part of their history. As you can see in the photo above, the Berbers have their own unique traditions, culture, livelihoods, and artifacts that makeup who they are. The Berber Museum was a place that celebrated and commemorated the magnificent culture of the Berber people and their contributions to Morocco as well.
The Jardin Majorelle was one of the earliest introductions to the vastness and uniqueness of Moroccan architecture, artwork, culture, and identity. Having this experience to visit the Jardin Majorelle was one that has been treasured for so many years. Hopefully, when it is safe to travel again, we can visit Morocco and go back to the exquisite Jardin Majorelle to relive those amazing experiences.
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