This page contains a small introduction to this great city. It merely gives people, from around the world, a sample of what they can experience when visiting here. If you live in this city or have connections to it, NDN wants to know about interesting news items and events that are happening.
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Marrakesh (or the French spelling – Marrakech) is the fourth largest city in Morocco, but many say the most important. Located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, its red coloured structures are a warming contrast to the snow-capped mountains.
It has been inhabited by Berber farmers from Neolithic times and has always welcomed visitors, travellers and immigrants from Africa and Europe. This is the reason why the city is home to people from many different religions, cultures and regions of the world.
It was actually founded in 1062 by Abu Bakr Ibn Umar a powerful Chieftain of the time, who was cousin of Almoravid King Jusuf Ibn Tashfin. The Almoravids went on to build many of the schools, mosques and important buildings in the city. They also built the city walls in 1122, made from locally sourced red sandstone, which is the reason why it is known as the ‘red city’.
In 1907 Dr Mauchamp a French doctor was murdered, allegedly for being a spy? France used this as an excuse to send troops to this (at that time) unstable region. Despite strong resistance over many years, on the 30th March 1912 the French Protectorate in Morocco was established, and their influence has shaped the cities growth and prosperity.
It continued to thrive, under its own merits and on the 2nd March 1956 a ‘protocol’ giving Morocco independence was signed between the French Foreign Minister and M’Barek Ben Bakkai.
Marrakesh, like many Moroccan cities, is designed in a way that it has fortified walls around its extremity with a market area in the middle, which is known as a ‘medina’. This central area of Marrakesh was given UNESCO World Heritage Site protection.
The ‘city walls’ stretch nearly 20 kilometres long and are nearly 6 meters high. They contain 20 gates and 200 towers. The common feature being the many holes in them, which are from the scaffolding used to make them and which were then left for ventilation.
Jemaa el-Fnaa is the best-known square in the city and it aptly means ‘the assembly of trespassers’, as it attracted everything from traders and dwellers to snake charmers and dancers. It is used for public gatherings and events and has been for hundreds of years.
A ‘souk’ is a market area and a descriptive definition of this and has been commonly used as – ‘A honeycomb of intricately connected alleyways, which are the fundamental section of the old city and a micro-medina in itself. Comprising of a dizzying number of stalls and shops that range from an elf’s wardrobe sized kiosk to shop-fronts that morph into a glittering Aladdin’s Caves within’.
The city has many Palaces and Riads (Moroccan mansion), which are similar to the design of a Roman Villa, with an open central garden area, intricately wooden carved interiors and high surrounding walls. Visitors could spend a whole day just seeing examples of these throughout the city, the best are probably; El Badi Palace, Royal Palace and many peoples favourite Bahia Palace.
Obviously, the city mas many mosques and they are focal points of the city, the largest being Koutoubia Mosque, it is an impressive 80 meters long, 60 meters wide and 77 meters high. The spire on top of the ‘minaret’ is decorated with decreasing sized gilded copper balls, which is a unique feature to Morocco. Other important mosques are; Ben Youssef, Kasbah and Mouassine.
Saadian Tomb, which is a mausoleum with corpses of sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty (a famous and powerful family of Sultans) receives many visitors each year, so does The Tombs of the Seven Saints, which is the resting place of the seven patron saints of Morocco. It is said that they are only sleeping and will one day awake to carry on their good deeds.
A definite ‘must-see’ is the Yves Saint Laurent museum, which is not only an incredible depiction of his life and work, but an amazing building and very enjoyable experience.
The Muss de I’Eau or Water Museum is a great venue, as it is not only very informative and contains interactive displays & antiquities, but is also used for events too.
Gardens and green space are a feature of Marrakesh, in fact 60% of the city is made-up of this form of terrain. This is due to the water system in place in the city, which explains the famous Moroccan saying, “A man who has water has power”.
Some of the best gardens to see are; Anima, which not only contains a variety of trees, plants and flowers, but also art instillations and a museum. Menura, with its lake, pavilion, orchards and olive groves. Agdal, which has orchards of citrus, apricot, pomegranate, olive and cypress trees. Koutoubia, which has orange and palm trees, plus home to storks.
The best way to see this city would be to use a tour company such as Atlas Voyages DMC, who are highly recommended, as they are known as the best in the business throughout Morocco. They provide all the servicers required when visiting a destination, such as full packages, transfers, hotels and MICE too. Therefore, if it is a Camel-Ride to an All-Inclusive Holiday, they can provide it.
The whole region has many different types of accommodation from Arabian/Moroccan Tents to 5* Hotels, but two recommended venues are; Club Madina and Dar Altas Resorts, both have everything required for a quality and enjoyable experience, such as pools, spa’s, bars, restaurants, entertainment and excellent customer service etc.
The lush irrigated soil makes it easy to grow many of the ingredients found in the typical Moroccan foods, which is now popular around the world. The must tries are; Tanija, which is a tasty stew of beef and spices. Briouats pastries are made with spicers and either rice or cous cous. Pastilla are filo-wrapped pies with chicken or pigeon, plus sugar and spice and Harira is a spicy meat and lentils soup. The desserts are tasty too, which include Chebakia (spicy cookies), Tartlets (dough and dates), Cheesecakes and a variety of cakes.
To accompany the food is the famous Moroccan Tea (usually green or mint) and Coffee (strong expresso style). Alcohol is not a part of the daily routine of locals in Marrakesh, but it is openly available throughout the bars, restaurants and hotels.
FIJET Morocco (World Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers) has a very active membership and is always looking for new members and organisations to collaborate with in order to promote and increase exposure for the country.
Marrakesh is a magical destination full of mystery, history, culture, style and spice! Words are not enough to describe this city, as it has to be seen, felt and experience for real.