Things to do in Marrakech
Marrakech has been transformed from dusty hippy outpost to one of North africa’s. If you’ve decided to make the journey into Marrakech, a little planning goes a long way. Here are just a few suggestions for making the most of your day in The Red City, specially if you are planning to be there for a short period.
DJEMAA EL FNA
Djemaa el Fna is the world famous square and market place in Marrakech’s medina quarter. The origin of it’s name remains unknown, it means assembly of the dead in Arabic, but as the word djemaa also means mosque in Arabic, it could also mean place of the vanished mosque, in reference to a destroyed Almoravid mosque.
The square is the highlight of any visit to Marrakech, used equally by locals and tourists. During the day it is mostly occupied by orange juice stalls, youths with chained Barbary apes, water sellers in colourful costumes with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, and snake charmers who will pose for photographs for tourists. Musicians, dancers, and story tellers pack the square at the heart of the medina, filling it with a cacophony of drum beats and excited shouts. As the day progresses the entertainment on offer change.
The Koutoubia Mosque right beside Djemaa El Fna is named after the bookseller’s market that used to be located there. It is one of the most recognisable Marrakech landmark, the mosque harks back to the 12th century but is unfortunately off limits to non-Muslims. However you can still walk around the gardens. At night the mosque has an amazing & beautifully lit.
Adjacent to Djemaa El Fna are the ‘Souks’ are traditional North African markets and Marrakech is awash with them. At the city’s lively souks you can pick up anything from fine leather goods to hammocks, spices to shoes, jalabas to kaftans, tea pots to tagines, souvenirs to food and much, much more.
This peaceful and beautiful garden was laid out in the period when colonialism was still a good word in Europe. In the 1920s the French artist Jacques Majorelle had it created complete with pools, banana trees, coconut palms, bougainvilleas and houses in a fantastic dark blue colour. The gardens have later been taken well care of by the French couturier Yves Saint-Laurent, who has added a private museum of North African artefacts.
These tombs were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century. They have been preserved unchanged since the glory days of the Saadian rulers. Unlike the El Badi Palace they were not destroyed, probably for superstitious reasons. The entrance was blocked so they remained untouched for hundreds of years.
EL BAHIA PALACE
The stucco and stonework in the Bahia Palace is truly amazing. Mosaics cover the floors, while the wooded ceilings are just as intricately decorated. The entrance to Bahia Palace is near to the Place des Ferblantiers and some 150 individual rooms await inside. However, only a limited number of these extravagant rooms are actually open to the public.
No trip to Marrakech is completed without a visit to the spectacular High Atlas Mountain range and the Kasbahs along the way. The Atlas Mountains are a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about 2,400 km through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Jbel Toubkal, with an elevation of 4,167 metres in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert. The population of the Atlas Mountains are mainly Berber tribes in Morocco.
HAMMAMS IN MARRAKECH
A hammam is a traditional Arab bath in which the cleaning is done primarily through steam and exfoliation of the skin. They have their origin in the Roman baths. Besides the main function, a hammam is a meeting place, especially for women.