On a vacation in Morocco, visitors should always spend some time in the magical city of Marrakech, breathing in the sights, sounds and colors of this fascinating place. The third largest imperial city of Morocco, the name translates from the Berber words, meaning “Land of God,” and it is easy to see why.
The city of Marrakech lies close to the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains of Morocco and is only a few hours away from the Sahara Desert, making its location and its contrasting landscapes a perfect destination in Morocco.
Marrakesh is a city of two parts. The first is the Medina, the historical city, with its narrow, winding passageways and local shops and souks full of color and character. The second is the more modern district of Gueliz, or Ville Nouvelle, an area with a more European feel, with its modern restaurants, big brand stores and fast food outlets.
There are several ways of getting around in the city. If staying in the Medina itself, all the sights are accessible easily on foot, although admittedly it will be a lot of walking, so comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Walking is always the best way to really experience a city, but there are plenty of buses and “petits taxis” available to get around should a person wish for more comfort.
The city runs an open-topped sightseeing bus which will take visitors to all the attractions with ease, or another pleasant way to travel is by “caleche,” a small horse-drawn carriage. Available from the Foucauld square, it is normal to haggle a little with the guide before heading off on a tour.
There is so much to see in the city, it is best to try and plan the day before heading out, as even a visit to the souks can end up being a day all in itself. The souks are the markets of Marrakech and are located next to Djemaa El-Fna square. Almost everything imaginable can be purchased in the souks, including spices, kaftans, fancy tea pots, shoes, clothing and much more. There are also markets dedicated to selling spices alone which show the true bright colors of Morocco in the wares on offer in magical Marrakech.
Other “must-visit” locations include the Palmeraie. This is a beautiful and true oasis on the outskirts of Marrakech and covers 13,000ha, with around 150,000 palm trees and along with a few luxurious hotels. La Palmeraie is the perfect spot to spend a little time riding a camel and experiencing a true feeling of Morocco and the desert.
Evenings just have to be spent in the Djamaa El-Fna square, where dancers, musicians and story tellers gather to entertain, right in the heart of the Medina. The colors, the sights and the sound of drumbeats enthralls, while visitors are tempted to a wide array of Moroccan food and drink.
In the day time, visitors are more likely to see the snake charmers and monkey performances and stalls offering interesting wares. Ladies in the square will likely tempt the tourists to have a henna tattoo.
There are many palaces and museums to visit in the city including Dar Si Saïd, located approximately five minutes from Djemaa El-Fna. The museum is an old palace building, housing many types of Moroccan artifacts, including traditional musical instruments, weapons and wood carvings. The museum also offers a display of beautiful art, including carpets, ceramics and pottery.
A beautiful place to visit, the video below takes a brief tour of the city and area, backed by the dulcet sounds of Crosby, Stills and Nash singing “Marrakech Express.” The above is merely a taste of what is on offer in the magical city of Marrakech in Morocco, with its sights, sounds and rich colors.
By Anne Sewell
Marrakech sunset sky CC BY-NC 2.0 Elvin
Marrakech water sellers and Spice Market CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Marc
Marrakech Market CC BY 2.0 David Rosen
Djemaa el-Fna at night CC BY-SA 2.0 Martin Fisch
Street spice vendor CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Ismael Alonso