The city of Marrakech is a city of living contrasts. It is a few hours from the Sahara Desert and sits in the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the kingdom of Morocco.
Marrakech is not just rich in Moroccan History in Medina, but it also has a touch of modern in Gueliz (the European Modern District).
The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) wakush, which means “Land of God”. It is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat.
Things To Do In Marrakech
There is much to see and do in Marrakech. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around all the different souks, seeking out the best bargains. The city also offers several historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums.
No trip to Marrakech is complete without the tour of Souks. Just near the Place Djemaa El- Fna there is the marketplace. Anything typically Morrocan is here – from gorgeous Kaftans to aromatic spices.
The highlight of any Marrakech night. Musicians, dancers, and storytellers pack this square at the heart of the medina, filling it with a cacophony of drum beats and excited shouts. Scores of stalls sell a wide array of Moroccan fare (see the Eat section) and you will almost certainly be accosted by women wanting to give you a henna tattoo. Enjoy the various shows, but be prepared to give some dirham to watch. By day it is largely filled with snake charmers and people with monkeys, as well as some of the more common stalls.
Named after the booksellers market that used to be located here. It is said that the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque is to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. The minaret is visible from Gueliz which is connected to the Medina by Avenue Mohammed V. At night, the mosque is beautifully lit. It was completed under the reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184 to 1199), and has inspired other buildings such as the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside.
Visiting the tanneries can be an interesting experience. Even if some people tell you the area is only for locals, it is possible to visit the Tanneries without paying a youngster. After finding a Tannery, ask one of the workers if you can visit it and take pictures.
The tombs were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century. They have been preserved just like they were during 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. Inside you will find an overload of Zelij (Morrocan tiles) and some beautiful decoration. It’s rather small so it does not take a lot of time to explore. Also, there are no explanatory signs whatsoever in the venue, so it’s recommended to hire a guide to explain to you what you’re seeing to get the most out of your visit.
While here, look for the tombs of Jews and Christians; they are noted by their different markings and direction of the tomb.
Majorelle Gardens (Jardin Majorelle)
It provides an excellent respite from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, if not crowded by tourists as it sometimes is. The park was designed by the artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s. Since 1980 the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé.
It boasts a collection of plants from around the globe, including what seems like every cactus species on the planet. Get here early to avoid the crowds. Inside the gardens is also the Berber Museum, which shows a slightly bigger and more modern presentation than the Dar Si Saïd.
Dar Si Saïd Museum
Museum set in an old palace with beautiful gardens. While somewhat run-down, it is worth seeing and houses many different artifacts from Morocco through the ages, such as wood carvings, musical instruments, and weapons.
It is dedicated to the Moroccan craft industry of wood, gathering a very beautiful collection of popular art: carpets, clothing, pottery, and ceramics.
All these objects are regional, coming from Marrakech and all the south, especially from Tensift, High Atlas, Soussthe, Anti Atlas, Bani, and Tafilal.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
One of the largest madrassas in North Africa. It is a school attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque and is home to beautiful art and architecture. Build ca 1570.
El Bahia Palace
An ornate and beautiful palace, built at the end of the 19th century for grand viziers of the sultan. Popular with guided tours and stray cats. The palace is well worth a visit and gives a great impression of what it must have been like to be a 19th-century nobleman in Morocco.
There is a nice garden with banana flowers, tranquil courtyards, and other lovely plants. Attention must be given in finding the entrance. Google Maps will bring tourists nowhere near the entrance.
El Badi Palace
A palace now in ruins and inhabited by storks and stray cats. There are some underground passageways to explore with exhibitions within them. Note that most explanatory text is only in Arabic and French. Newer exhibitions have text in English as well but those are still the minority.
The view from the terrace is majestic. The palace was built by Sultan Ahmed al Mansour to celebrate the victory of the Portuguese army in 1578 in the Battle of the three kings.
They also exhibit a wooden minbar that dates back to the 12th century and is on display in a single room with some explanations. A minbar is a preaching chair.
Also hosts the Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (abbreviated MMP+), a small museum which however showcases great pieces of visual art. 70 dirham admission to the palace (incl. museum).
The Menara gardens
A mixture of orchards and olive groves surrounding the water reservoir with the central pavilion which is a popular sight on tourist postcards. Not a decorative garden, and now quite run down.
The pavilion was built during the 16th-century Saadi dynasty and renovated in 1869. It has a small cafe, but it is not open all hours. There are no toilets open when the cafe is closed. Free admission.
The largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco, characterized by white-washed tombs and sandy graves. The men selling tickets are full of interesting information about the cemetery but you have to ask.
Slat Al Azama Synagogue
A synagogue which is not only a place of worship with a beautiful open courtyard but also includes interesting displays about Judaism’s varied history in Morocco, including photos of Jews in the Berber Mountains.
It’s housed in the Dar Menebhi Palace, constructed at the end of the 19th century. 50 dirham.
Musée de la Palmeraie
It’s an old agricultural building in the Palmeraie, made out of rammed earth. The architecture itself is interesting if you haven’t seen it. It offers a small collection of contemporary art, with a room dedicated to Morrocan artists (also famous ones), the international ones are rather not top-notch. The gardens are nicely made and are a good place to relax in quiet.
Musee Farid Belkahia
A museum dedicated to the renowned contemporary artist Farid Belkahia, showcasing different periods of his work.
About the people in the Sahara. Created by Dutchman Bert Flint.
Maison de la Photographie
A little photography museum, it has one of the highest roof terraces in the Medina.
Ali Ben Youssef Mosque
The first mosque in Marrakesh was erected at this place by the Almoravid emir Yusuf ibn Tashfin in the 1070s.
However, it was almost completely rebuilt in the early 19th century by the Alaouite sultan Suleiman, with hardly any trace left of its original Amoravid or Almohad design. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter it.
It consists of groves of orange, lemon, fig, apricot and pomegranate trees in rectangular plots, linked by olive-lined walkways. Together with the medina of Marrakech and the Menara Gardens, the Agdal Gardens were listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1985.
Jbilets Geological Site
Explore the Berber village on a desert tour. This is a day trip.
Chez Ali Fantasia, La Palmeraie de Marrakech
Located 10 km north of Marrakech, visit and enjoy horse shows, acrobats on Arabian horses firing rifles in the air, horseback acrobatics, belly dancing, etc. It takes place at night in a huge imitation of an old castle.
How To Get Here
Those flying from the United States, Canada and anywhere in Asia need to change flights in Casablanca (Morocco). The Marrakech- Menara Airport is an International Airport and caters direct flights from London, Paris, Copenhagen, Dublin, Oslo, Madrid, Stockholm.
As soon as you arrive at the airport, head to Terminal 1 where there is money changing outlets. Reaching the city from the airport is no big deal as there are buses running to the city every 30 minutes or so.
Best Time To Visit
Summer is the busy tourist season in Marrakech. During this time of the year though the heat is unbearable, the city sees a rise in tourism.
But if you want to dodge the crowds, then fall (October- November) or spring (March- May) are best times. The weather is pleasant and the heat is bearable.
Electricity & Plug Type
The standard voltage in the Kingdom of Morrocco is 220 V. If your appliance works in low voltage then a converter, as well as a travel adapter to fit Type C / Type F and Type E, is a must. The socket has two round pins and one larger earthing pin.
July 26, 2017 12:01 pm
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