Dar el Makhzen
History and museums
The Dar-el-Makhzen (or Sultanate Palace) is a historical building in Tangier, Morocco, which was the seat of residence for the Sultans of Morocco when staying in the city. It was built during the reign of sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century. The structure was built by Ahmad ben Ali al-Rifi, general of the Jaysh al-Rifi and semi-autonomous gouvernour of Tangiers. It was built in the Kasbah on one of the highest points of the city overlooking the Medina and the Strait of Gibraltar. Currently it is used by two museums, the Museum of Moroccan Arts and the Museum of Antiquities.
The Dar-el-Makhzen was the palace to which the last Sultan of independent Morocco, Moulay Hafid, was exiled when the French Protectorate of Morocco forced him to abdicate. He moved in with his entire harem, slaves and personnel, altogether consisting of 168 people, and stayed in the Palace when his brother Moulay Yusef took over power after the Treaty of Fez
The building is built around two courtyards, which are decorated with wooden ceilings, marble fountains and arabesques. Some of the columns used are of Roman origin.
The former Sultan’s apartments are now used by the Museum of Moroccan Arts (Musée des Arts Marocains et des Antiquités'), displaying works of art from all over Morocco, amongst which are firearms decorated with marquetry, carpets, silks from Fez, and manuscripts. The Museum of Antiquities now occupies the former kitchen. It houses finds from ancient Roman sites as Lixus, Cotta and Volubilis, as well as life-size Carthaginian tomb and finds from the Tangier region from prehistory until the Middle Ages. Of note is The Voyage of Venus, a Roman mosaic from Volubilis displayed in the courtyard and reproductions of several bronzes from the Rabat museum of archaeology. The Bital el-Mal treasury is noted for its magnificent painted cedar ceiling and 18th century coffers with a complex system of locks. A gallery leads into the place itself and is built around a central courtyard paved with zellij tilework and surrounded by white columns.