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
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 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
The tombs are open daily except
Tuesday. It's advisable to get there early and avoid the
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.
Si Said (Museum of Moroccan Arts)
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
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.