Moroccans and tourists alike would agree that a Morocco trip would be incomplete unless you visit Marrakesh. Imagine a cosmopolitan, yet ancient, city colored in red, with very temperate and healthy weather, located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains on a trek . Here you will enjoy colors and light, food and shopping, relaxing and exploring. For many, it is not enough to visit Marrakesh once and come back regularly; many Europeans and Americans, charmed by its unique atmosphere, have moved there permanently and started calling it ‘home.’ There is simply nowhere else in the world like Marrakesh.
The list of things you can do in Marrakesh is endless. If you are interested in visiting some historical landmarks in the red city, here are a few you should not miss:
It is hard to miss this one. Standing at the heart of the city, the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh is one of the most prominent historical sites in Morocco, and was used as a model for a number of mosques and churches around the world, such as the Giralda mosque in Seville, the churches in the red square in Moscow and the Hassan Tower in Rabat.
Visible from most parts of the city, the Koutoubia is the biggest mosque in Marrakesh and one of the largest in the world. It covers 5,400 square meters with its tower rising nearly 70 meters high. Its six finely carved rooms, with 112 columns, can hold up to 25,000 worshipers.
The Koutoubia was built during the 11th century, under the reign of the Almohad Caliph Yacoub el-Mansour. After its completion, someone discovered that it was not aligned with Mecca, which resulted in its destruction and rebuilding. You can still see remains of the original mosque behind the reconstructed one. Although the interior of the mosque is off-limits to non-Muslims, you can still visit the beautiful hall and gardens outside the mosque.
Jamaa El Fna
From the Koutoubia mosque, you can walk to Jamaa El Fna, the most famous and vibrant place in Marrakesh. It is an open-air theater where you can enjoy storytellers, palm readers, singers, snake charmers, monkey dancers and more. Located in the old part of Marrakesh, it is surrounded by markets, cafes and restaurants. During the day, stalls sell fresh-pressed orange juice, and during the night the food carts move in, transforming the square into a big barbecue feast. You can easily spend half a day here.
This is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places to go to when you need a retreat from the crowded streets of Marrakesh. The Majorelle Gardens are named after their French founder and designer, Jacques Majorelle. After Majorelle completed the gardens in 1924, he decided to open it to the public in 1947.
The colors are one of the most striking features of the gardens. As you enter this urban oasis, the cobalt electric blue décor seems to leap out at you against the green of the plants and bamboo, the pink of the pathways and the red and yellow of the numerous flowers and their vibrantly colored pots. There are more than 300 plants and 15 species of birds in this space, making the gardens a photographer’s paradise.
The gardens include the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakesh that showcases old jewelry, ceramics, Majorelle paintings and textiles from late Yves Saint Laurent personal collection. In 1980, late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent co-purchased the gardens. After his death in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the gardens in Marrakesh, which he considered his second home.
Written by Ghizlane Gray.
Photo by guillenperez.