Marrakech, a city which was once inhabited by Berber farmers and now the flag-bearer of the tourism-explosion that Africa has been witnessing these last few years, is an intoxicating place where the old customs and the modern practices clash with each other to create a beautiful and exotic 21st Century tourist destination. Once an imperial city of Morocco, its significance is visible from the fact that it had provided the root for its country’s name itself.
Not the largest of the cities in Morocco, Marrakech was founded in the 11th Century and continues to dictate the economics and the politics of the entire North-African region. We have come up with six significant places which every tourist must visit to capture the essence of this magnificent city. The place has a lot of staying and accommodation options, including Villas in Marrakech.
Medina of Marrakech
Marrakech has existed long before the French colonized it, which is evident when one visits the old town of Marrakech. This part of Marrakech is heavily fortified, and the centuries-old walls have stood the test of time. The city of Marrakech is also called as the “Ochre City” or the “Red City” thanks to the walls of the Medina which was constructed with red sandstone.
The old town is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Centre and is known for its “Souks” which are located in narrow alleyways and are always bustling with life with a healthy dose of chaos and confusion. The Souks are well known for being a hub for bargain hunting. Some of the products sold here, such as shoes, perfumes, spices, leather are considered to be amongst the best in the world. Also, never hesitate to visit the traditional courtyard homes present in this old town, if given a chance.
One of the greatest examples of the Almohad school of architecture, this 12 th Century mosque is the symbol of the city of Marrakech. Its minaret, a 70 meters-tall architectural marvel can be sighted from any part of the city and is one of the only three Almohad minarets surviving in the world. Located at the heart of the city, this mosque serves as an important landmark for all things Marrakech. However, considering its religious significance, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter its premises. Non-Muslims can still learn about its history and walk around the gardens that surround this ancient mosque.
Located in Rue de la Kasbah, the Saadian tombs is a burial ground for the members of the Saadian dynasty, which ruled Morocco from 1554 to 1659. A huge slice of the legacy of the Saadian dynasty is tied to this place as nearly sixty-six members of the royal family have been buried in these tombs. It is located just outside the Medina and is known for its calmness and quietness, which is the exact opposite of what one expects in Marrakech. The surrounding grounds consist the graves of the soldiers and illustrate the loyalty with which they served the Saadian dynasty. Inside the tombs, are elegantly carved Arabic inscriptions and such other decorations, because of which, these tombs have become a major tourist attraction in recent years.
Humans, Donkeys, Monkeys, Snakes and more can be found at this market square, which has flourished for more than eight hundred years. If there is one place in Marrakech where millions and millions of people frequent every year, it is this charming marketplace and central square. Once a site for public executions, this place shows no trace of its sorrowed past but is well-known for its hustle and bustle. The UNESCO has credited this vibrant and colourful market square as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In the evenings, this marketplace turns itself into a large open-air restaurant with numerous stalls selling the local delicacies. One must try out Tagine, which is one dish which epitomizes Moroccan cuisine as well as Snails, which are simmered to perfection in a broth seasoned with herbs.
The Jardin Majorelle, as the French called it, is a lush tropical garden consisting of bougainvillea, cacti, lilies, and other exotic and rare flowers. Created over a period of forty years, these two and a half acre botanical gardens are one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in Marrakech. These gardens also host a villa complex, which is the home to the Berber Museum as well as a collection of Jacques Majorelle’s paintings. The bamboo forests inside these gardens are well known too. Jacques Majorelle, being a passionate botanist, created these gardens which are now the ideal picnic spot in the entire city of Marrakech.
Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts
How can we cover Marrakech without mentioning its world-famous museums? One amongst them is the Dar Si Said Museum, which hosts some of the finest Moroccan handicrafts and regional arts. Located at Rue de la Bahia, one can find themselves lost in this place which tells the tale of Morocco from the times of Berbers to present-day Morocco. Art knows no boundaries, and this perfectly seen here as the arts of all major North African countries can be found at this museum. Don’t miss out on seeing the collection of the world-famous Moroccan carpets in the museum.
Marrakech, a city which never gets tired of itself, is the ideal tourist destination which every traveler yearns for. The city offers a bit of something for everyone, from the history-buffs to the adventure-seekers. A city where Africa and Europe collide head-on, creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who seek it, should definitely find a place in your travel bucket list.