We finally made it to Marrakech, a vibrant city filled with exotic sights and sounds. It was colorful, it was hectic, it was madness! It can be a sensory overload but as veteran street warriors of the medina of Fez, nothing overwhelmed us anymore!
The Souk of Marrakesh
United colors of slippers for sale in the souk.
Navigating the medina and souk of Marrakech was easier than that of Fez. The streets are wider and more straight forward compared to the narrow labyrinth streets of Fez. However, we found the atmosphere in Fez much more ancient, more soulful and much more ingrained with tradition.
Djemaa el-Fna, known as “The Square,” is the heartbeat of Marrakech and is said to be the busiest square in Africa. It bustles with musicians, street artists and con-artists, storytellers, snake charmers, acrobats, etc.
Keith as a snake charmer.
These loonies volunteered to pose with Keith and then asked for money. Beware! They are the water sellers. In the olden days, they sold water to the thirsty traveling traders passing by the square. With the advent of sanitized bottled water their business has slowed down so they now make money by hounding tourist to pose for photos with them.
The view of the minaret of Koutobubia Mosque from the square. It is the largest and most revered mosque in Marrakesh.
A group of local men breaking their Ramadan fasting at the square.
Riads are traditional homes or palaces that are built around an inner courtyard. This is the courtyard at Riad Habiba, a beautiful riad hotel in the quiet street of the Marrakesh medina where we stayed. It used to be a part of the Palace de la Bahia. Marrakesh has undergone a riad renovation rage in the last decade. Thanks to the Europeans who arrived and purchased old dilapidating riads and transformed them into wonderful riad hotels.
This is Dar, an adorable boy who lived right across from our riad. Where he stands is the door into his house. Like most riads in Marrakesh, you can’t underestimate this tiny, discreet door for it opens into an exotic, spacious courtyard home.
Walking on the quiet medina street where our riad was situated.
Striking figures in the quiet back streets of the medina
The Royal Quarter
Palais de la Bahia is a private palace built in the end of 19th century by Si Moussa, grand vizier of the sultan. It contained rooms for his four wives and a harem for his many concubines. It is built and decorated with impressive doorways, pretty stuccos, paintings, mosaics, colorful carved cedar wood roofs and the pleasure gardens.
Before it was ransacked in the 17th century by succeeding dynasty of Alaouite Moulay Ismail, it was considered to be one of them most beautiful palaces in the world. Its name means “the incomparable.”The great scale of the ruin of El Badi Palace gives an impression of it former splendor. The palace was built by best craftsman at the time using the best quality materials. The walls were said to be covered with gold leaf.
The ruin of the guest houses of El-Badi Palace.
The Saadian Tombs are the resting places of the Saadian princes, their family members and close family friends. This burial ground was sealed by the succeeding dynasty and was not rediscovered until 1917 when a French general detected it in an aerial survey.
Marrakesh is said to have the most number of gardens among Moroccan cities. They offer respite from the chaos of the souk and traffic. One of the gardens we visited was Majorelle Garden, a 12-acre botanical garden and artist landscape. It also has a small museum containing Moroccan collections of jewelries, carpets, etc.
Marjorelle Garden was designed by a French artist Jacques Marjorelle during the French protectorate period of Morocco and is interestingly owned by The Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. The ashes of Yves Saint Laurent were scattered in this garden after he died in 2008.
Travel Date: October 2007
Travel Guides: Lonely Planet Morocco and Rough Guide
- Accommodation: Riad Habiba
- Related Article: 36 Hours in Marrakesh, NY Times
- Related Blogs: Marrakech, The Souks and Djemma el-Fna by Have Bag, Will Travel, The Night Market in Marrakech by Hecktic Travels