MarrakeshCopyright: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock.com
MarrakeshA city steeped in medieval allure, Marrakesh is a tapestry of myths, drama, and the enigma that entraps all who enter its ochre-hued embrace. Step inside, and you'll journey back through time into a world largely preserved in historical chronicles. With its maze-like Medina, the sensory overload of the bustling souks, the theatrical spectacle at Jemaa el-Fna square, and the towering Atlas Mountains serving as a dramatic backdrop, Marrakesh indisputably reigns as Morocco's most dazzling gem.
The CityOn 8th September 2023, Morocco experienced a catastrophic 6.8-magnitude earthquake. The quake's origin was a mere 70 km southwest of Marrakesh, within the towering peaks of the High Atlas Mountains. Marking the most potent seismic event in central Morocco in over a century, this earthquake stands as the country's most lethal since 1960. Such seismic events are rare occurrences in this part of the world. Marrakesh, often rendered as Marrakech in French, served as the jewel of Morocco's four imperial cities and is the core of the Marrakesh-Safi administrative region. Populated by Berber agriculturalists since ancient times, Marrakesh came into its own in 1070, under the auspices of Emir Abu Bakr ibn Umar. He founded it as the primary city of the Almoravid Dynasty, which laid down the urban structure that would define Marrakesh for generations. Today, the city presents a tapestry of contrast: the millennia-old Medina juxtaposes sharply against the Ville Nouvelle, a product of French colonial modernism. Jemaa el-Fna, the pulsing epicentre of daily life in Marrakesh, undergoes a captivating transformation each evening. As dusk falls, the square fills with an array of culinary vendors offering delectable local fares. The air is saturated with the sights and sounds of snake charmers, impassioned storytellers, and myriad entertainers that evoke an almost medieval atmosphere. North of this bustling square lies a cluster of religious edifices and bustling marketplaces, while the south is adorned with regal palaces and landmarks. In stark contrast, the Ville Nouvelle offers a more structured and calm ambiance, divided into the Gueliz and Hivernage districts. This area houses modern civic structures, international lodgings, and a diverse range of eateries and bars akin to a contemporary European metropolis.
Do & See
The city is split into two dramatically different areas, each a testament to a distinct period in Moroccan history. First, there's the ancient Medina, a labyrinthine quarter established almost a millennium ago by the Almoravids. Then, in stark contrast, is the Ville Nouvelle, born out of early 20th-century French colonial ambitions and modernist ideals. But it's the Medina — particularly its bustling central square, Jemaa el-Fna — that truly kindles the imagination.
Moroccan cuisine, in general, consists of the staples of meat ― mainly chicken and lamb ― a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and couscous. The most renowned Moroccan dish is the tajine, a slowly cooked stew of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Another famous dish is pastilla, which is composed of either chicken or pigeon between layers of pastry.
Enjoy the different sounds and views in Marrakesh at a nice café with a cup of strong Moroccan coffee in your hand. Moroccans also have a liking for sweet things, so be sure to try out their desserts and pastries, washed down with an aromatic glass of "thé à la menthe" or mint tea.
Bars & Nightlife
Enjoying a tipple in Marrakesh is a subtle event, unfolding in carefully concealed locales. Yet, once you're on the inside, the atmosphere transforms — expect a lively scene pulsating to the beat of Gnawa music. Located mostly on the city's fringes, these nightspots offer a haven for both locals and tourists eager to embrace the city's vibrant energy. Brace yourself for an unforgettable night of Marrakshi revelry!
Marrakesh is a shopper’s paradise. It is a place where some of the finest hand crafted goods won’t cost you an arm and a leg and you’re actively expected to bargain. If this sounds like your idea of consumer heaven, then head directly to the souks in the north of the medina, where you will find artisans fashioning all manner of products. There’s also the slipper market, for that most essential of Moroccan footwear: the babouche, which you can slip into after the night’s revelries. Other markets to look out for include the leather market and the carpet market where you can pick-up high quality hand-woven rugs. For sheer interest alone, and to watch real craftsmen at work, be sure to wander through the markets of blacksmiths, dyers and carpenters. If the bustle of the souk gets to be too much, and you’re all bartered out, then head over to the Ville Nouvelle where the shopping experience comes air conditioned-boutique style. Here you will find exclusive designer wear and one-off original items, artisan and antique shops and warehouse outlets. Happy shopping!