A mausoleum is a large monumental tomb for a deceased leader or another person of great importance.
Morocco is a country that deeply cherishes and honors its leaders in historical mausoleums with lavish architecture that you should visit.
Civilizations have used mausoleums for thousands of years. The Pyramids of Egypt are an early example of tombs of the Pharaohs as is the Taj Mahal, the ivory-white marble mausoleum in the city of Angra that was built for Mumtaz Maḥal, the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan.
The term mausoleum originates from the name of the former leader of Caria, King Mausolus. After his death, his wife ordered his remains to be entombed above the ground in a beautiful and elegant building, known now as the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Moroccan leaders have been, and always will be, historical influential rulers. It is therefore only logical that they have their own mausoleums for future generations to visit and pay their respect, connect with their heritage, as well as receive blessings in “Moussems.”
Moussems are annual celebrations held in Morocco to honor religious and political figures.
The Moussem starts in an atmosphere of feasts, horse races, and large crowds. It is a cultural and spiritual assembly.
It further serves as an occasion to meet relatives and friends and get in touch with Morocco’s cultural identity.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is located in the Yacoub Al Mansour square in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, on the opposite side of the Hassan Tower and overlooking the Bouregreg River.
The mausoleum contains the tombs of the Moroccan King Mohammed V. His two sons, the late King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah, are also laid to rest in this masterpiece of a mausoleum.
Construction started on the order of King Hassan II. He commissioned the mausoleum in honor of his deceased father in 1962. The construction was completed in 1971.
The mausoleum is a popular attraction in Rabat for its architectural splendor of the modern Alaouite dynasty.
The building features a tall green-tiled roof and the interior is decorated in white marble with beautiful granite floors and walls.
The mausoleum is decorated with Moroccan zellige, showcasing impressive Moroccan craftwork, red carpets, and spectacular chandeliers.
The guards posted at the entrances wear traditional uniforms when guarding the mausoleum, one of the very few holy places that are open to the public.
Cheikh Al Kamel Mausoleum
Founded in the 16th century, the Cheikh Al Kamel Mausoleum is also known as the tomb of Al-Hadi Benaissa.
The mausoleum is the place of burial for Meknes’ great saint and founder of the famous “Aissaoua” brotherhood.
Sidi El Hadi Benaissa was born in 1465 in the region of Souss-Massa-Draa. His full name was Abou Abdallah Mhammed Benaissa Fehdi Soufiani Mokhtari but he was commonly known as “Cheikh Al Kamel,” which means “the complete one”
The impressive mausoleum is located inside the medina of Meknes, behind the ancient walls of Bab al-Jadid located to the south of Bab Al-Barda’in.
In 1776, Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah built the superb building, which was, and still is, an annual destination for visitors as a pilgrimage for the Aissaoua.
The Moussem of Cheikh Al Kamel coincides with the prophet’s birthday. The event is an occasion where the Aissaoua gather from all over the Maghreb. They travel from elsewhere in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya in order to gather around Cheikh Al Kamel’s Mausoleum.
The Cheikh Al Kamel Moussem consists of many rites of the Zyara (visit). The Aissaoua perform ancient rituals that have been passed from generation to generation.
These rituals include, for example, Hizb, Dhikr, Horm, Ahadun and Hadra. They let their body freely express a trance while dancing throughout the nights accompanied by folkloric tunes of the Tbel and Bendir.
Moulay Ismail Mausoleum
Morocco’s historical mausoleum of Moulay Ismail is located southwest of the former Dar Al-Kebira Palace. The mausoleum contains the tomb of the Moroccan ruler Sultan Moulay Ismail.
Moulay Ismail was the ruler of Morocco from 1672 to 1727. He was the second ruler of the Alaouite dynasty, and his 55 year-rule makes him the longest-reigning Sultan of Morocco.
He was one of the country’s most powerful rulers as he created a strong army of blindly devoted soldiers that successfully defeated the Ottomans in Algiers and expelled the Europeans from the ports they had occupied.
The mausoleum consists of vast courtyards, chambers, fountains, and patios. It is beautifully decorated with zellige, and marble with carved arabesque and Moroccan-Andalusian motifs.
The funerary complex is a grand historic and religious landmark in the city and is visited throughout the year by Moroccans seeking blessings (Baraka) from the saint Moulay Ismail.
Moulay Idriss Zerhoun
Moulay Idriss Zerhoun is a town located at the base of Mount Zerhoun. Near Meknes, in northern Morocco, this mausoleum contains the tomb of the first major Islamic ruler of Morocco, Moulay Idris.
Only a few kilometers from the former Roman city of Volubilis, Moulay Idris forged strong relationships based on the fact that he was a descendant of the prophet. He quickly became the most important religious and political leader in the area.
The historical Moroccan mausoleum has survived through many dynasties, such as the Sharifian dynasty, the Saadian dynasty, and the Alaouites.
Moulay Ismail ordered the rebuilding of the mausoleum and the widening of the existing mausoleum. Alaouite Sultan Moulay Abderrahman purchased a property that expanded the complex even further.
The mausoleum grew in size under Sultan Sidi Mohammed and was redecorated by King Mohammed V and King Hassan II.
The Saadian Tombs
Located inside the royal kasbah in Morocco’s cultural heart, Marrakech, this mausoleum dates back to the time of the Saadian dynasty.
The Saadians’ tombs are a historical necropolis, regarded as one of the Moroccan architecture masterpieces.
Sultan Al-Ghalib Abdullah constructed the first tomb for Mohammed Al-Sheikh, his father and the founder of the Saadian empire, who passed away in 1557. Sultan Al-Ghalib Abdullah himself was buried there, next to his father, in 1574.
Years later, another one of Muhammed Al-sheikh’s most powerful sons, Sultan Ahmad-Al Mansour, ordered major modifications to the mausoleum. He buried his mother Lalla Mas’uda in the same chamber as his father, and expanded the mausoleum.
Sultan Ahmad-Al Mansour added more chambers, including the chamber of the Mihrab (a prayer room), and the chamber of the Twelve Columns.
The sultan wanted to construct beautiful memorials to honor the lives of his loved ones.
He succeeded in building the most lavish mausoleums with 66 beautiful detailed tombs. Carved in colorful eye-catching tiles and Quranic tiles, the complex radiates true beauty and is a major tourist attraction in Marrakech.
In Morocco, just as in the rest of the world, mausoleums are not just religious buildings. They play a vital role in the history of the kingdom, honoring saints and people of high caliber. Still, they are also a place to celebrate and meet your loved ones.