Facing the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is a timeless city of red sandstone.
Storytellers still praise the public in Jamaa al-Fanna Square and an army of vendors selling their wares in randomly woven alleys, well-packed to keep out the sun.
Marrakesh went through two great imperial periods, under the Almorvids and Almuhads in the Middle Ages, and the Saadian dynasty in the 16th century.
These spells left the city with masterpieces of Hispano-Moorish art, such as the 12th-century Kutubia Mosque, and the ruined palace and mausoleum of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansour (1549-1603). Marrakech captured the imagination of many Europeans, not least the veteran resident Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008), whose period-defining designs found a stage in a new museum in his honor.
The walled old city of Marrakesh is an indecipherable labyrinth of alleys converging west of Jamaa al-Fanna Square under the symbolic 12th-century spire of the Kotubia Mosque.
You will learn over and over again that an exterior look can be misleading in the country, and this is true of the simple-looking exterior walls of courtyards (courtyards), giving no indication of the splendor of the mosaics and plaster works inside.
Naturally Riyadh will be the best accommodation in Marrakech, and you will see inside more than a few restored and turned into museums.
If there is one way to enter the country it must be a gate in Av Agnau, the historic entrance to the casbah that welcomes you in flocks of carved sandstone combined radiating from its horseshoe arch.
2. The markets of Marrakech
A fact you may hear about Marrakech is that it is a city of 40,000 artisans.
In the nearby intersection alleys, which attract the vast Jamaa al-Fanna, you can see what all these artists are up to.
The lively, picturesque and feverish Suakim are an experience like a shopping opportunity, and are divided according to specialties.
There is Suk Samata for slippers in Babush, Sok Safarin for brass vessels, Sok Haddadin for blacksmiths, Suk Chuari for carved cedar and the famous Suk Cheratin, which sells all kinds of leather products, from wallets to belts.
Souk Sebbaghine, the hyena market, is a photographer’s dream with his strands of wool in bright colors drying over his head.
You are expected to bargain, but through this act it is worth remembering that all traders want to make a sale.
Recommended tour: Marrakech: A 3-hour colorful market tour
3. Kotubia Mosque
The spire of the city’s largest mosque, 77 meters long, towers over the western side of the country for more than 800 years.
When the French painted the Ville Nouvelle, this medieval tower was still the guiding landmark, and was seen for almost 30 kilometers.
Completed during the reign of Al-Muhammad the Caliph Yaqub al-Mansour, the turret came before, and inspired, the famous Guillada of Seville and the Hassan Barbat Tower, also for the creation of Al-Muhad.
Instead of stairs, the turret has a ramp inside so the muezzin can ride upstairs to call to prayer.
It also means that the direction of the combined window arches is slightly different on each facade.
Access is forbidden to non-Muslims, but you can take a good look from the promenade near Jamaa al-Fanna.
To the right you will see the ruins of an earlier Almohad Mosque, built in the 12th century but abandoned because its temple was not aimed at Mecca.
4. Mural Garden
Yves Saint Laurent and its label founder, Pierre Berga, purchased and restored this transformative garden and its cubist villa in the 1980s.
All this was the work of Jacques Murall (1886-1962), the son of the legendary furniture designer Hart Nouveau Louis Murall.
Jacques has spent more than forty years perfecting this 2.50-acre space, and you can wander among the bamboo, the tall cacti and the bright bougainvillea.
Facing a square fountain in the same hue of cobalt blue, Murall’s villa and studio contain a Museum of Islamic Art, showcasing Saint Laurent’s personal collection of North African textiles, ceramics and jewelery, along with a collection of Murall paintings.
Suggested tour: A camel tour in the Majorelle and Palmeraie Gardens
5. Bahia Palace
Up there, with the masterpieces of Moroccan architecture, Bahia Palace has reached its current scale and abundance under the Grand Vizier Ba Ahmad (deceased).
1900). The intensely decorated palace, on eight acres in the southeast of the median, began in the 1960s and was later expanded by the famous Ba Ahmad, whose additions included a huge harem in the courtyard around a central basin.
The complex abounds in painted cedar and beech ceilings, bright white marble, colored sage, elaborate lattice, stained glass and gardens laden with jasmine, hibiscus, citrus trees and banana trees.
The Grand Vizier had no less than four wives and 24 concubines, which explains the size of this space.
All of Ba Ahmad’s wives had an apartment of the same size, indicating their equal status, and around the palace you would pass through the school / mosque for his many sons and daughters and the hall where he ran a business.
King Muhammad VI occasionally stays at Bahia Palace, in private residences that are not open to the public.
Included in: Marrakech: A half-day private walking tour
6. Madrasa Ben Yosef
By the time it closed in 1960, Marrakesh had claimed one of North Africa’s largest madrasas, with more than 800 students.
It was completed during the reign of Sultan Abdullah al-Khalib (1517-1574) at the site of an earlier Madrasa dynasty madrasa from the mid-14th century.
The complex opened as a historic site in 1982 and is designed around a magnificent courtyard, decorated to evoke a sense of astonishment through the glossy slate mosaics, light feather plaster, thinly carved cedar and Arabic calligraphy strips around a rectangular reflection pool.
At the far end of the entrance, the Mehrab is concentrated in even more vibrant tile works.
This richness is attracted by the designed bars and plaster niches of the secondary courtyards, while the student cells are not intentionally decorated.
7. Jamaa al-Fanna
The feverish market of Marrakesh was born as a place for military processions and executions in front of the palace that preceded the Kotubia Mosque.
Jamaa al-Fanna is madness all day and into the night.
In the afternoon there will be snake covers, barbarian monkeys, orange juice stalls and water vendors.
These later retreat and are replaced by masses of young dancers dressed as women (who will not be allowed to dance), magicians, firebrands, acrobats and storytellers, all in soundtrack by Genoa bands in blue robes.
At night there are countless food stalls in Jamaa al-Fana for tajines, couscous, sizzling meat skewers and soups spiced with lentils and chickpeas.
Suggested tour: Marrakech: Medina by Night Tour
8. Sadian Tombs
Members of the powerful Saad dynasty, whose rule coincided with the apocalypse of Marrakesh in the late 16th century, were laid to rest in this magnificent mausoleum complex surrounded by a wall on the south side of the Casbah Mosque.
The tombs date to the time of Ahmad al-Mansour (1549-1603) and were lost for hundreds of years behind their uncontrollable walls until an aerial survey in the 10s.
About 66 people are buried in these three rooms, including al-Mansur, his son and grandson in the twelve-column showroom.
The tombs here are designed in Carrera marble, decorated with a kaleidoscopic mosaic of leaks on the floor and lower walls, all under a wonderfully intricate dome of carved cedar.
9. The photo house
Opened in 2009 in an old merchant inn in the heart of the country, this museum houses a collection of more than 10,000 historical photographs, from 1870 to 1950. You will rarely see pictures of Moroccan landscapes, the old town of Woloblis. Palaces, casbahs and visible pictures of barbarian culture.
There are photos taken by some of the earliest photographers who came to Morocco, including the Scot George Washington Wilson (1823-1893), and many other anonymous travelers visiting the country on their great tours.
Every few months there are new exhibitions on topics related to specific places, photography styles and aspects of life in the country.
After perusing the exhibit you will ascend to the terrace for a jug of mint tea and a privileged view of the country and mountains.
10. Al Buddy Palace
This ruined palace inhabited by storks and stray cats, also built by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansour, was erected immediately after his victory among the three kings (1578) using funds raised from a ransom paid by the Portuguese.
Decades later, the palace of al-Buddy, thought to have 300 lavishly decorated rooms, was looted by the Alawite Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif (1645-1727) for material for his palaces in the new capital Meknes.
The remains left behind are noticeable, with spectacular views from the decorated walls and a mysterious network of underground passages that can be explored.
Something not to be missed in the back of the courtyard is the Koutoubia minbar, carved in a 12th-century casket, with wonderful texture and calligraphy in gold and silver by medieval Cordovan artists.
Recommended tour: A historical tour of Marrakech
11. Yves Saint Laurent Museum
The museum built this dedicated for the famous former resident of Marrakech opened on the street bearing his name in October 2017. The building, designed by Studio KO, looks traditional and modern at the same time, evokes Art Deco in its twisted shapes and dressed in bricks shot in Morocco and arranged in a weave pattern.
With a minimal background, the permanent exhibition is planted in Marrakech, showcasing many of Yves Saint Laurent’s most iconic works, such as the Mondrian dress, the pea coat, “La Tuxedo” and the safari jacket.
The 50-piece exhibition changes every few months and is organized according to themes that guided the designer’s work: art, gardens, Morocco, Africa, black, imaginary journeys, masculinity-femininity.
Complementing this work are sketches, track shots, photographs, audio bills and music for insight into the creative process and influences of the designer.
12. Tower Gardens
Some way out of Marrakesh towards the airport is a system of botanical gardens that was first planted around 1130 by the ruler of the Al-Muhad caliphate, ‘Abd al-Mu’min.
The name Menara comes from the pavilion building, with horseshoe arches, a railing balcony and a pyramidal roof, impressive in front of the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains.
This pavilion, which dates back to the 19th century on foundations earlier than the 16th century, sits on a huge reservoir built to irrigate the orchards and olives around it.
As it was almost 900 years ago, gardens are a respite from the heat of today.
13. Cyber Park
The name of this park west of the country gives a small indication of its great age.
With a clear view of the Atlas Mountains, the garden was laid out by Prince Mulai Abdeslam, son of Sultan Sidi Muhammad bin Abdullah, in the late 18th century.
The space became public in the early 20th century, and lost its landscaping until a restoration project by the Muhammad VI Foundation for Environmental Protection in the early 2000s.
The Cyber Park combines a historic Arst (orchard) garden, planted with citrus, lucerne and olive trees, with a modern park spread out with expansive lawns, water features and walking trails.
The name comes from the Cyber Cafe and Telecom Museum that opened in 2005, but also from the free electronic internet available in the park.
14. Tiskivin Museum
This museum was founded by the Dutch anthropologist Brett Flint as a place to show off his extensive range of Amazigh artifacts.
So important is the collection that the museum has now become part of the Kadi Iyad University in Marrakech.
The permanent exhibition is planned as a trip to the barbaric Sahara on the old caravan routes between Marrakesh and Timbuktu.
On your journey you will become acquainted with barbarian celebrations, commerce and home life.
In this fine riad you will see stone and wood carvings, furniture, baskets, fabrics, dahlias (robes), jewelry, cooking utensils and more, all adapted to well-researched descriptions.
In the Jewish Quarter of Marrakech you will notice that the already narrow streets of the city are shrinking even more, and that the buildings are a little taller.
This is because until the arrival of the French Protectorate in 1912, Jews could not live outside this crowded district, and were therefore forced to make the most of the small area that was there.
The quarter grew in the mid-16th century during the Saadian dynasty, in the part where the Sultan’s stables once stood.
At its peak it was a hectic neighborhood of jewelers, sugar merchants, tailors and bankers.
The saltworks was slightly restored during the reign of Muhammad VI, and re-adopted the names of its original Jewish streets.
The Jewish population of Marrakech has now dwindled to only a few dozen, as you will see from the occasional glimpses of the Star of David on the walls.
In addition to being a place to deal with the city’s past, the Mellah is a place to shop away from the city’s hectic main markets.
16. Salat Al Azma Synagogue
This 16th-century synagogue in Malach was built on the back of the deportation of Jews from Spain.
Recently renovated with a women’s gallery, you will find it in a hidden courtyard in a narrow alley, its bright blue tile tiles, doors and benches contrasting with the city’s orange and brown.
The Salat al-Azma Synagogue is one of two active places of worship for the Jewish community of Marrakesh, but for everyone it is a place to get a little more insight into Judaism in the city, through an exhibition of photographs and documents.
The courtyard here once served as a yeshiva (religious school) for 400 students from the area.
17. The Miara Jewish Cemetery
The Malah Cemetery, the largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco, gives a clearer picture of how many people lived in this district after it was first developed in the 16th century.
As in so many places in the country, the obscure entrance contradicts the beauty and size of what lies behind.
Men will be given a dome to wear as they enter, facing a field of long, whitewashed tombs, most of which are worn over time but some retain their triangular contours.
It is amazing to think that there are three layers of burial here.
The Miara Jewish Cemetery has a special place in Jewish culture, as the burial place of many Tzaddiks (a Hasidic leader or spiritual guide). A decorated mausoleum, with a carved cedar roof and detailed plaster moldings, is reserved for the president of the Jewish community in the city.
18. Dar Said Museum
The oldest museum in Marrakech opened in 1932 in the refined palace of the late 19th century commissioned by C. Said bin Musa, the defense minister of his brother, the Grand Vizier Ba Ahmad (died in 1900). Enter to indulge in the hypnotic tile works of the zellig, the stained glass and the beautifully designed cedar ceilings.
The museum documents the traditional crafts of the area, combining Marrakesh, the banks of the Tensift River and the high and anti-atlas ridges.
There is barbarian jewelry, mesh copper, pottery, rugs, ceremonial clothing and weapons, as well as an exhibition of doors and window frames carefully decorated from the casbahs in the south.
19. Bukhara Museum
On your adventure through the country you can enter this museum in Riyadh, with a central courtyard and a calm and green terrace above.
The museum sheds light on Barber Buchroa’s rug production technique, in which strips of colored rags are woven together, usually by a woman.
Because they can be made by a single weaver and not by a workshop, Boucharouite rugs often tell you something personal about their creator.
It fits in with the items hanging in this museum, and if you’m lucky, the museum owner will be around to share some of the background on each rug and what they say about barbaric culture.
At the end you can drink tea on the terrace, high above the country noise.
20. Ouzoud Falls A full day tour from Marrakech
The location of Marrakech inland where there are amazing natural wonders at an incredible distance, and there is a whole catalog of once in a lifetime experiences.
Ozud Falls in the Middle Atlas Mountains are located 150 kilometers northeast of the city, and this tour will take you there in the comfort of an air-conditioned minibus, safe in the hands of a local guide.
The ride is unforgettable, passing through olive groves and small barbarian villages nestled in the High Atlas.
The waterfalls are breathtaking, where the El Abid River rushes down three drops with a total height of 110 meters, into a huge gorge with mossy walls.
You will have the opportunity to swim in the river and photograph the curious barbarian macaque monkeys that made the waterfalls their home.
Recommended tour: Ouzoud Falls A full day trip from Marrakech
21. Marrakech for 3 days desert desert safari
Marrakech is as close as many people will ever get to the open Sahara Desert, and it is exciting to think that the romantic dunes of orange and bronze dunes are within reach.
This tour at GetYourGuide.com is a three-day odyssey, crossing the High Atlas Mountains and visiting the spectacular Casbah of Ouarzazate, a dream city long known as the “Desert Door”. Once you see the high rocky walls of the Todge Channels, proceed to the Erg Chebbi dunes, which fit in with everyone’s most romantic ideas about the Sahara.
After a camel ride you will spend the night in a Bedouin camp, hiding in a star-studded tajine and entertained by real nomadic musicians.
22. Day trip in the Atlas Mountains with a camel trip
The high Atlas Mountains are always tempting and present on the southern horizon of Marrakech, and this day trip will take you to the Emlil Valley of the ridge to a sublime mountain landscape, a camel trip and a dish of barbaric culture.
On the way you will stop at a women-only argan oil cooperative to buy this coveted cosmetic product originally.
Later, in the town of Asni, you will visit a barbaric market unaffected by tourism, followed by small villages, waterfalls and a stop at the steep fertile terraces of Temert, growing vegetables, corn and barley ever since.
On the way back to Marrakech there will be a stop at the Mulai Brahim canals for a camel ride in an epic landscape.
Book online: Day trip in the Atlas Mountains with a camel ride
23. Marrakech Museum
Despite the name, the Marrakech Museum deals less with the history of the city and more with the architecture and decor of its beautiful building.
Near the Ben Yosef Madrasa, this is a palace built in the late 19th century for Mehdi Menahbi, the defense minister under the command of Sultan Mulai Abdullahiz (1878-1943). The palace lost its luster in a period of neglect, until it was restored and turned into a museum in the 1990s.
The best part is the unusually large patio, which occupies more than 700 square meters, and is dominated by a spectacular multi-layered chandelier.
On the ground floor are small displays of hammered copper objects, barbarian jewelry, weapons and clothing, while on the top floor you can take a closer look at the refined Moorish design and fine cedar furniture.
24. The Secret Garden
Worth a momentary escape, La Jardin Secret is a palace complex and garden paralyzed right in the country.
The hallucinatory story says that it was originally a pair of Riyadhs of the 17th-century Sa’ad dynasty, restored by the ambitious 19th-century Qaeda (commander) al-Hajj ‘Abd-Allah or-Bihi during the reign of Sultan Muhammad IV.
He was later met with a sticky tip when his tea was poisoned.
From the 1930s onwards the palaces became dilapidated and opened in 2016 after an eight-year restoration.
There is an Islamic and exotic garden to browse through, and the palaces feature modern examples of Moroccan design in tile work, handmade plaster, carved cedar and tdelect (waterproof plaster). The newly built tower almost matches some of Marrakesh’s spiers in height, overlooking the country and the mountains.
Once you have adopted the country with children or teenagers, you may be willing to take a break.
Adjacent to the resort, Oasiria is a water park with eight pools and 17 different slides, all on ten acres of gardens.
Adults can easily take it in this oasis-like setting of lush lawns, palm trees and ancient olive trees.
But there is a lot of fun in the wave pool, the lazy river and a selection of heated pools.
For the little ones there is a place to splash in the water up to the knees, and a spacious playing landscape with low slides.
Older kids can handle rides with names like Rio Loco, Kamikaze and Cobra, and there is a new climbing wall for changing pace.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Marrakech, Morocco
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