Say the word "Morocco" to a group of people and ask them what word or phrase comes to mind. Chances are good that "mysterious," "exotic" or "enchanting" will be among the most popular replies. My four trips to this North African country have taught me that all of those responses would be accurate but none of them, whether alone or all together, tell the whole story of Morocco.
Morocco draws you in. Like a well-told story or a complex friend with whom you constantly continue to learn, the depth and richness of this country is breathtaking. With a virtual endless number of attractions both natural and man-made, it can be difficult to know where to start your discovery of this fascinating land.
It is safe to say that no trip to Morocco is complete without a stay in the city of Marrakech and no visit to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the Majorelle Garden.
What is the Majorelle Garden?
Due to its being colonized by France from 1912 to 1956, Morocco is suffused with French influence and culture. The Majorelle Garden had its founding in this French legacy, specifically in the form of French painter Jacques Majorelle.
Majorelle was born in Nancy, France in 1886. He began his career as an artist in France and chose to continue that career in Morocco by moving to Marrakech in 1919. There he acquired land in 1924 and began the landscape that later became the Majorelle Garden. In 1947, he opened the garden to the public; a gift to the people of Marrakech, Morocco and in time, the world.
The garden was later co-acquired by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. These men gave the garden to the foundation they founded together named The Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, to ensure its continued existence to future generations.
What is in the Garden?
The Majorelle Garden covers two and a half acres and is full of the different botanical interests of its founder Jacques Majorelle. Cacti, along with various plants and trees are landscaped throughout the garden. Adding to its striking serenity are pools, streams and fountains. The trickling and gurgling sounds of water synthesize with the calls and songs of the numerous species of birds such as blackbirds, robins and turtledoves that have made the garden their home.
The Majorelle Garden's Restoration and Future
Saint Laurent and Bergé bought the Majorelle Garden in 1980 and began an extensive restoration of it to reclaim its previous grandeur.
Automatic irrigation systems were installed and the number of plant species were increased from 135 to 300. Thanks to this restoration, visitors today can enjoy the garden as Jacques Majorelle envisioned. After the death of Saint Laurent in 2008, Bergé donated the Majorelle Garden to the foundation that bore their names.
Majorelle, Saint Laurent and Bergé came together through the Majorelle Garden. The nearly 50,000 people that visit and experience the garden each year are beneficiaries of their creativity, generosity and vision. Together they helped to create in Morocco this jewel of a garden within the jewel of Marrakech.