Photo courtesy of Moroccan National Tourist Office/www.visitmorocco.com
An Ancient Park on the Edge of the City
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, the Jardin Menara was created in the mid-12th century by the Almohad dynasty. Since then, its gardens have been added to and embellished by varying degrees for other sultans but always centered around a huge, flat reflecting pool, which captures the Atlas Mountains in the most sensational way on a clear day and forms the focus of a space that covers nearly 250 acres. An elegant pavilion was installed during the Saadian rule of the 18th century and proved a popular summer escape from the heat among city dignitaries. Unlike other, more formal gardens of the city, Menara’s vast olive groves, orange orchards, and cypresses feel more natural and create a true escape from the fray. Although extremely popular with picnicking Moroccan families in the afternoons, the place is blessedly free of tourists and a lovely, peaceful place for a stroll.