Morocco Tours by Erlebnis Tours Maroc






  
     
     
     
     
     
  
  







     

Marrakech

Introduction

Situated at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, the imperial city of Marrakech is large, noisy, polluted and smelly. But Marrakech is also fascinating, full of history, the cultural centre of Morocco and truly beautiful. If you enjoy a daily assault on all your senses then you'll have a lot of fun. When the most popular sights include numerous references to "tranquillity" and "peace" like the Majorelle Gardens or the gardens around the Saadian Tombs you know you're in for an interesting experience. It can be a little overwhelming so we highly recommend one of our Erlebnis Tours guides show you around.

There are so many things to see, you should spend at least 2 days in Marrakech. If you can afford it, treat yourself to a stay in a Riad so when you return from a hectic day amidst carpet salesman, fire jugglers and noisy souks, you can relax and have a cup of mint tea in a nice quiet courtyard.

When to Go

It is best to try and avoid the summer heat and crowds and visit Marrakech in the cooler months between September and May. However, some annual events take place in summer that you may not want to miss (see "Not to be Missed" below). From mid-January to mid-February there is usually enough snowfall in the Atlas mountains to accommodate skiiers. The Oukaimden Ski Resort is less than 50 miles away from Marrakech. There are several ski lifts and if they don't work you can always take a donkey up the slopes. If there's not enough snow the views are always spectacular and it's still worth the trip.

Things to See & Do

Djemma el Fna
The Djemma el Fna is really the heart of Marrakech. It is a large central square in the old city (Medina) and during the day it's a perfect place to grab a freshly-squeezed orange juice and a handful of dates. At the end of the afternoon the Djemma el Fna transforms into an entertainers paradise - if you're into snake charming, juggling, music and that sort of thing. Snack stalls are replaced with stalls offering more substantial fare and the square comes alive with entertainment that hasn't changed much since medieval times. Marrakech is a different place at night. The market place is transformed into countless food stalls, orange men, story tellers, kids boxing, Berber ladies decorating hands and feet, snake charmers, drummers, dancers and hundreds of people everywhere.

The Djemma el Fna is surrounded by cafes overlooking the square so you can just relax and watch the world go by if you're tired of jostling the crowds below. Be prepared to be asked for money when you take photos of the performers and stop to watch the entertainment.

       

Souks
The souks are basically undercover markets that sell everything from chickens to high-quality crafts. The souks of Marrakech are considered to be among the best in Morocco, so if you like shopping and bargaining you'll enjoy yourself tremendously. Even if you don't like shopping, the souks are a cultural experience you wouldn't want to miss. Souks are divided into small areas that specialize in a certain good or trade. The metal workers all have their little shops clustered together, as do the tailors, butchers, jewellers, wool dyers, spice merchants, carpet salesmen and so on.

The souks are situated north of the Djemma el Fna and finding your way around the narrow alleyways can be a bit tricky. We recommend the use of one of our guides to avoid getting lost in the chaos.

Majorelle Gardens and the Museum of Islamic Art
In the 1920's, French artists Jacques and Louis Majorelle created a stunning garden in the middle of Marrakech's new town. The Majorelle gardens are filled with colour, plants of all shapes and sizes, flowers, fish ponds and perhaps the most pleasing aspect, tranquility. The designer Yves Saint Laurent now owns the gardens and has also built himself a house on the property. The building that gets most of the attention, however, is the bright blue and yellow building the Marjorelles used as their studio and which now houses the Museum of Islamic Art. This small museum includes some good examples of Moroccan tribal art, carpets, jewellery and pottery.

The gardens and museum are open daily with a 2 hour lunch break from 12-2pm.

   

Saadian Tombs
The Saadian dynasty ruled much of southern Morocco during the 16th and 17th centuries. Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour created these tombs for himself and his family in the late 16th century and 66 of them are buried here. The tombs were sealed up rather than destroyed in the 17th century and were only re-discovered in 1917. Consequently they are beautifully preserved and the intricate mosaic is stunning. Despite being situated in the heart of the somewhat hectic old town (medina), the tombs are surrounded by a nice peaceful garden.

The tombs are open daily except Tuesday. It's advisable to get there early and avoid the tour groups.

   

The Ramparts of Marrakech
The walls of the medina have been standing since the 13th century and make for a wonderful early morning stroll. Each gate is a work of art in themselves and the walls run for twelve miles. The Bab ed-Debbagh gate is the entry point for the tanneries and provides an excellent photo opportunity full of vivid colours from the dyes used. It is a little smelly though.

Palais Dar Si Said (Museum of Moroccan Arts)
Museum of Moroccan Arts is a palace and museum in one and well worth a visit. The palace is opulent and beautiful in itself with a lovely courtyard where you can relax and take some pictures. The museum's displays are well laid out and include jewellery, costumes, ceramics, daggers and other artifacts. The museum is open daily with a couple of hours break for lunch.

Ali ben Youssef Medersa and Mosque
The Medersa was built in the 16th century by the Saadians and could house up to 900 religious students. The architecture is beautifully preserved and you can explore the tiny rooms where the students used to live. The mosque is adjacent to the Medersa.

   

El Bahia Palace
This palace is a wonderful example of the best of Moroccan architecture. There's lots of detail, arches, light, engravings and what's more, it was built as a harem's residence, which makes it even more interesting. The palace is open daily with a break for lunch although it is closed when the Royal Family are visiting.

   

Not to be Missed

Marrakech Popular Arts Festival in July (2008 dates are still to be confirmed). This annual festival attracts folk singers, dancers, fortune-tellers, acting troupes, snake charmers, fire-swallowers and more, from all over Morocco. Since 2000 the festival has also attracted many artists and entertainers from Europe and Asia. The main events take place in the ruins of the 16th century Badi Palace and the Djemma el Fna (main town square).

Fantasia is a horse-riding spectacle that includes hundreds of charging horsemen (and women) wearing traditional clothing. It's part of the Popular Arts Festival so it takes place at the same time in July. You can experience the Fantasia in the evenings outside the city walls near the Bab Jdid. If you don't get to see it in July, there's a restaurant, the Chez Ali, that offers the Fantasia as entertainment while you dine.

Imilchil Marriage Feast is a Berber marriage festival where up to forty couples tie the knot. It takes place in Imilchil in the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakech. The festival is a great way to experience Berber culture including music and dance. The event takes place after harvest every year so the dates vary; in 2007 it will be held from 25-27 August.

       

Enquiries & Booking

To enquire about or to book a personalised private tour within or to include Marrakech, please call us on +44(0)7713 615829 or send an email to enquiries@erlebnis-tours-maroc.com to discuss your itinerary and prices.

 

Guelmim   Ouarzazate

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