Marrakech- the city I always wanted to visit. I have read and heard about it so much, but visiting and seeing it is totally different experience.
A trip to Marrakesh can present many different experiences from maze-like souqs, where thousands of stall holders sell anything from cactus silk scarves to aromatic herbs and Arabian-style lamps, that are often draws people to Marrakesh to most amazing, full of history palaces and Mosques.
I would like to share my own experience about the places I visited during my stay in Marrakesh. So, lets start.
Souks of Marrakesh
Think of souks in Marrakesh as a shopping mall, but laid out according to a labyrinthine medieval-era plan. Whether you want to spice up your pantry with North African flavours or buy a carpet to add Moroccan-wow to your house, this is the perfect place for it. Did I find it overwhelming -Yes! But in a nicest possible way. Souks are the perfect marriage of colours, energy, and vibrancy. There is anything I can not buy here- perfumes, spices, bags, clothes, baskets, shawls, carpets, shoes, even safety pins. My advice wold be : 1. Learn to say Vendors can be persuasive, and you will be persuaded by shopkeepers on entering the souk, but it is nothing a firm no can’t tackle. Be firm, but polite. 2. Always Negotiate. Never pay the first price… knock at least 50% off.
It is easy to spend hours in Marrakech’s serpentine souks- you are bound to get lost, but that is the fun of it.
Square of Djemaa El Fna.
Djemaa el Fna is known to locals as the ‘heart of the city’. It is a part of Marrakech that presents an ever changing character with the rising of the sun and well into the night. It is a cultural mix of colour, scents, sight and sound and is one of the liveliest attractions in Morocco. It is changing from day to night.
During the day, the square has numerous stalls, most of which sell fresh fruit juice, water and fruit. You can take photographs of the snake charmers, but you will have to pay a small fee for a photo. The snack stalls and relaxed atmosphere makes it hard to believe that at night there is almost no place to stand as the Djemaa el Fna fills up to capacity.
In the early evening, the snake charmers, fruit juice traders and snack stalls start packing up to leave. Slowly,Djemaa El Fna starts to bustle with storytellers, musicians, healers, magicians, peddlers, Chleu (dancing boys) and sellers of traditional medicine.
A tranquil retreat from Marrakesh’s chaotic streets, Jardin Majorelle was lovingly created by French painter Jacques Majorelle over the space of 40 years, opening to the public in 1947. It feels like another world as you stroll along the shady paths lined with exotic plants, palm trees, bamboo and cacti, passing flowing streams and ponds.
More recently, the garden was owned by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent until his death in 2008. You can now browse his ‘Galerie Love’ art gallery in the grounds. There’s also a boutique, a café and the Berber Museum containing over 600 artefacts collected from Berber tribes living in the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara. Exhibits include clothing, jewellery, tools and textiles.
Al-Mansour had favourites even in death, keeping alpha-male princes handy in the Chamber of the Three Niches, and relegating to garden plots some 170 chancellors and wives – though some trusted Jewish advisors earned pride of place, literally closer to the king’s heart than his wives or sons. All tombs are overshadowed by his mother’s mausoleum in the courtyard, carved with poetic, weathered blessings and vigilantly guarded by stray cats.
Al-Mansour died in splendour in 1603, but a few decades later Alawite Sultan Moulay Ismail walled up the Saadian Tombs to keep his predecessors out of sight and mind. Accessible only through a small passage in the Kasbah Mosque, the tombs were neglected by all except the storks, until aerial photography exposed them in 1917.
I absolutely loved this place. So serene and quite, with amazing gardens full of orange Trees. Can you imagine what Morocco’s top artisans can create within 14 years? Well, here you have it .
Palace has 2 riads: petit riad and grand riad ,decorated in intricate marquetry and zouak (painted wood) ceilings, while the vast grand courtyard, trimmed in jaunty blue and yellow, leads to the Room of Honour, with a spectacular cedar ceiling.
Today, only a portion of the palace’s eight hectares and 150 rooms is open to the public, there’s still plenty of ornamental frippery on show. While admiring the tranquil grand courtyard with its floor laid in white Carrara marble, remember this is where people waited in the sun for hours to beg for Bou Ahmed’s mercy.
For me, this is a must see place in Marrakech. Me, my husband and our 2 children fell in love with this place for its history and grandeur.
El Badi Palace is a ruined palace located in Marrakesh, Morocco. Commissioned by the Arab Saadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, sometime shortly after his accession in 1578, its construction was funded by a substantial ransom paid by the Portuguese after the Battle of the Three Kings.
As 16th-century sultan Ahmed al-Mansour was paving the Badi Palace with gold, turquoise and crystal. El-Badi’s vast courtyard, with its four sunken gardens and reflecting pools, give a hint of the palace’s former majesty and the views from the pisé ramparts, where storks nest, are magnificent.
The palace is nowadays a well known tourist attraction. To reach the entrance, head through Pl des Ferblantiers and turn right along the ramparts.
Another thing I would highly recommend is taking a horse and carriage ride around the Marrakech. It takes you through Medina, Jewish quarters, Kasbah Mosque and new town, and gives you the opportunity to feel how new and old lives in harmony in this city on contrast.
I will return to Marrakesh in a heart beat . Still, so much to see and experience. The best time to visit Marrakesh would be March-April and September- October. The weather is very pleasant and not too hot, which makes sight seeing even more memorable.
I hope I have inspired you to see this fabulous, vibrant city full of life and culture.
Love, Samira xxx