Experience Historic Marrakech

Alahu Akbar, god is great, come and pray,” an imam calls to the neighborhood over a loud-speaker, a familiar background noise by now.  In a different light, tradesmen standing outside his store enthusiastically calls for attention to sell with “Konichiwa,” “Ni Haw,” or a simple “Hello.”

wider-streets

The medina, albeit still a maze, is not as intimidating as the one in Fes.  Weaving through the wider (relative to Fes’) streets,

leather-goods

I breathe in an assortment of aromas, the whiff of floral scent of potpourri; the intense smell of mix spices; the fragrance of shredded wood; the distinct odor of leather.

souks

various-metalworks

I notice that, in contrast to Fes, the medina is packed with shops intended for tourists.  Though having earned the reputation of being ruthless shopkeepers, I saw them as affable to foreigners often calling out a “Where you from?” and returning an “Ah Philippine, welcome to Morocco!”

woodwork-spectacle

Adding to this are tout craftsmen who invite curious people like us to be entertained, at the very least – I picked up a few of his merchandise.   🙂

Atlas-mountains

Marrakech also known as the “Red City” is a major city of Morocco, north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.

red-walls

The city surrounded by blush colored walls, initially a fortress and a symbol of power, was constructed in the 12th century, the bricks used is a mixture of red mud and water from the Hazou plains.

The city is divided into two distinct parts – the medina and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle.

guelizShops in Ville Nouvelle

This post will be all about the historic city, its market and its famous square.  Get lost in the narrow, labyrinth streets of this ancient rose-hued city and let it take you back in time.

Djemaa el-Fna

kotoubia

It is said that the minaret of Koutoubia mosque is the heart of Marrakech, but the soul of the city lies just 200 meters away, in the city’s market square and forum that has been in existence since its foundation.

jemaa-el-fna-from-terrace

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, it owes its fame to its size, its unique atmosphere, and for bringing history to life daily.

snake-charmers

A medieval circus of musicians, dancers, snake charmers, story tellers… share the square with the fruit and juice stands.

juice-stand

dried-fruit-standChaotic yet in tune with the din of drumbeats and enthusiastic hollers.

extort

chilling

The way to experience it is to be among it all but the best way, I found out, is to watch the hustle of activities and be entertained by Djemaa el-Fna’s daily performers from any of the peripheral cafes and restaurants’ upper terrace.

terrace-cafe

It will be a show you don’t want to miss.

The show doesn’t peak until sundown when the square has a different life.  Rows of street stalls under giant white tents are set up each night not only for the tourists but are, in fact, local food jaunts, as well.

night-stalls

Food is prepared hot and fresh along the countless stalls serving authentic favorites one must have when in Morocco.  Head out one night and eat like the locals do and be serenaded with the sounds of live Moroccan music.  Troupes of Andalusian or Gnaoua musicians perform as part of a dinner show around the square.

bocadios-sandwich

If the confusion seems to be overwhelming, look for small eateries serving these sandwiches they call bocadios.

bocadios

Amazing stuff found in the corners of the medina away from the disarray – it helps though if you can speak Moroccan or French.

meringue

And just outside, a lady sells wonderful Moroccan sweets.  Perfect for dessert.

belly-dancing

Or escape to an evening of belly dancing, for a different kind of entertainment.

mint-tea-pouringThe proper way to pour Moroccan mint tea, as performed by our very gracious waiter.

Wander and get lost around the endless maze of souks

Marrakech has the largest traditional market in Morocco and it is so easy to spend your dirham at the seemingly endless maze of souks inside the medina.

souk-entrance

A network of souks begins on the north edge of Djemaa el-Fna and ends at the Ben Youssef Madrasa, comprising of alleyways of local shops full of character.

lighting-store

choice-boutiques

The further in you venture, the more fascinating they become from souks touting everything to the (more) sedate choice boutiques.

carpets

Find Berber carpets, pick up wood carvings, try on djellabas and babouches,

herbolist

or merely listen to herbalists sell you miracle cures for the aging, wander and get lost, then get help from a bunch of boys playing in the street… all these are part of the fun when exploring Marrakech’s medieval souks and winding streets.

Do all these because if you have not gotten lost, if teenagers have not offered to help you find your way out, if they didn’t hassle you for a tip, if you have not been greeted and lured by jovial merchants in five different languages, you have not experienced Marrakech.

Useful Info:

(Belly Dancing Show)
Restaurant Dar Essalam
170 Riad Zitoun Kedim
For Reservations: 212 (0) 5 24 44 35 20
 
Les Terrasses de l’Alhambra
3 Place Jemaa El Fna, Medina
212 (0) 5 24 23 75 70
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8 thoughts on “Experience Historic Marrakech

  1. Wow, i am so envious with your travels. And your captures are so great. It seems like many of us here go there now, it seems very accessible. Is it not too expensive to go there?

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    1. Well the airfare isn’t exactly cheap but once there, everything is realtively affordable if you aren’t choosy. Food can be cheap and good, shopping however is another thing. 🙂

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  2. Being born and brought up in rural Somerset in the UK, nothing sounded as “exotic” as the call tp prayer when I was first in Morocco and later Turkey! Although there was a tendency for the cheaper accommodation to be right next to the speakers, which was still exotic, but not relaxing!

    Have not thought about trip to Morocco in a while – nice memory prompt!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

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  3. Ah… so that’s how they pour Moroccan mint tea (one of my fave teas). It certainly isn’t poured like that where I live 🙂 Thanks for all the photos. Lovely way to get immersed in Moroccan culture.

    Hazel

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