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History & Heritage


Architecture : the most beautiful palaces in the Maghreb

Numerous ruling dynasties succeeded one another in the Maghreb states, and many of them left vestiges testifying to their eras.

The Bahia Palace

The Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century for Si Moussa, a wealthy Moroccan nobleman and grand vizier to Sultan Hassan I, and its name “Bahia” aptly means “brilliance”. The palace features a blend of Islamic and Moroccan influences, with intricate tiling, carved stucco and ornamental wood carvings characteristic of Islamic art, making it an exemplary representation of Moroccan architectural style.

Its interiors are adorned with Moroccan handicrafts, including zellige tiles arranged in geometric patterns and carved woodwork featuring floral motifs or geometric shapes. Its gardens, covering eight hectares, are characteristic of Andalusian architecture, with features such as orange trees and fountains. The complex layout of the Palais de la Bahia is the result of its piecemeal expansion over many years, with a number of inner courtyards and riad gardens. The main complex covers almost 2 hectares and includes such remarkable features as the Grand Courtyard, paved with Italian Carrara marble and surrounded by an elegant wooden gallery. The palace also includes a mosque and a school.


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Dar Lasram

Dar Lasram is located in the old town of Tunis, Tunisia. Built between 1812 and 1819 by Hamouda Lasram, a wealthy landowner and member of the aristocratic Lasram family, it represents a typical example of a traditional Tunisian residence. The Lasram family, which descended from an Arab tribe settled in Kairouan, included several members who served as ministers of the pen or secretaries of Berber cavalry regiments in the Tunis regency. The palace’s architectural style harmonizes with the buildings of the ancient city. Covering an area of 2250 square meters, it is structured to reflect traditional housing: the first floor was used for storage and services, the second floor was reserved for family members, and the upper floor was for guests. This layout is a typical reflection of the social and cultural practices of the time.Over the years, Dar Lasram underwent several changes of ownership and function. In 1968, the palace was awarded to the Association de Sauvegarde de la Médina de Tunis, an organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Tunis medina. Today, Dar Lasram serves multiple functions, including that of a cultural center. Its architecture, notably the neo-doric capitals and stuccoes in the main patio, and the painted decorations on the ceilings, are exemplary of the style and craftsmanship of the period. The palace was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, as part of the Medina of Tunis.


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Palace of the Raïs

The Palais of the Raïs, also known as Bastion 23, is an important historical monument in Algiers, Algeria. Renowned for its architecture, it is the last remaining part of the lower Casbah. This architectural complex comprises three palaces and six houses. Its history begins with the construction of Bordj-Ez-Zoubia in 1576 by the Dey Ramdhan Pacha to reinforce the city’s defenses.

The palace underwent various modifications during the French occupation, fulfilling diverse functions such as a consulate and a girls’ school. It was first protected as a historic site in 1903 under the designation “Group of Moorish Houses”. Its status was enhanced in 1991 when UNESCO recognized it as a universal heritage site.

Today, the palace is also a center for art and culture, open to the public since November 1994. The complex, located within the perimeter of the old town, includes features such as a covered alley (sabbat), a central courtyard, an alley and a battery. Its location underlines its historical importance as the last seaward extension of the Kasbah of Algiers.


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Ksar Saïd

Ksar Saïd Palace, located in the town of Bardo on the outskirts of Tunis, Tunisia, is a historic palace built in the 19th century. It served as the residence of the Beys of the Husseinite dynasty, an important ruling family at the time. The palace, particularly noteworthy for its decorative grandeur, underwent significant expansion during the reign of Muhammad III as-Sadiq Bey.

Ksar Saïd Palace is renowned for its blend of local and European architectural and decorative styles. This is evidenced by the extensive use of ceramic tiles and painted ceilings, mostly imported from Italy and France. Interiors are adorned with Italian Baroque influences, visible in furniture, textiles and furnishings such as velvet curtains and Venetian chandeliers.

One of the highlights of the palace’s history is its association with the Treaty of Bardo (also known as the Treaty of Ksar Said), signed in 1881. This treaty marked the beginning of the French protectorate in Tunisia, significantly altering the country’s political landscape. After Sadok Bey’s death in 1882, the palace underwent a period of neglect until it was revived as a royal residence in the early 20th century by Hédi Bey.

The palace was restored in 2019 and renamed “Ksar Said, palais des lettres et des arts”.

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Published on 28 December 2023