Things To Do In Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh is a magical city overflowing with serpentine alleys that lead to busy markets, grand palaces, horticultural gardens, majestic courtyards, significant mosques, and remarkable museums. Discover inner peace at the Koutubia Mosque where the minaret is not only a famous landmark, but also a favorite subject for photography. You can make nice pictures as you pass under the arch to the left side of its sacred grounds. But the most awaited part is when the sun disappears behind the tower of the mosque. The tranquil and serene atmosphere distinguishes this place from other attractions you can visit in the “Red City”.
The Marrakech Souk is an event in itself. You walk through charming streets, each with its own character and find woodworking, carpet making, leather tanning, goldsmith, jewelry making, shoes, food, and so on. The friendly merchants and artisans sell their products, but not in an annoying way. You have the time and space to casually look around and make choices. In the souk, there are nice bars and restaurants, do not be afraid to go inside and try a cup of mint tea. A good mix of commercial and traditional trading, the souk is where you can always find what you look for when in Marrakech.
When To Go:
It is best to avoid the mid year high temperature and huge crowds and explore Marrakech in the cool months of March and May and from October through November. The spring and fall shoulder seasons brag the most alluring climate and fewer visitors. The main exemption is Easter, which sees a rise in tourism and lodging rates. In spite of the hot temperatures, summer is the most prominent time to visit Marrakech.
From June through August, you'll need to deal with throngs of visitors and out of this world room rates. The winter months see an alternate rise in tourism with guests heading to the city looking for a warm atmosphere. Be that as it may don't belittle the climate; temperatures have been known to drop and extreme cold is experienced during the winner season (December – February). Freezing winds can dive temps into the 40s come sunset. That being said, the winter months have a tendency to still draw travelers, particularly around Christmastime. Temperatures may drop, yet room rates beyond any doubt don't, so book no less than two months ahead of time.
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These are the things to do when in the fabulous city of Marrakech.
Ali Ben Youssef Madrasa
The Al Ben Youssef Madrasa is one of the most beautiful places in Marrakech. This masterpiece of architecture is a famous landmark that also serves as a theological school where students can learn all the elements of the Moroccan culture and style like: Arabic calligraphy, stone carving, wood mosaic, etc. It is a really interesting place brimming with beautiful architecture and history. You can see how the students lived and studied for many centuries ago.
This is a fine example of Arab-Muslim architectural wonders. Get the services of a guide and get immersed in Eastern culture in the true sense of the word. The educational tour offers a haven of calm in the hustle and bustle of the Medina. The visit is worthwhile, and the only downside is some rooms are empty and without any piece of furniture. Nonetheless, it's still one of the best places to visit during a stay in Marrakech. Feel free to combine this tour with a visit to the Museum of Marrakech next door. The two visits are complementary and covered with just one ticket.
The Bahia Palace was built in a Moroccan style architecture that combines refinement and luxury. It is evident when you see its wonderful décor, the vast ceilings with a creative mosaic pattern, columns with carved capitals, and fantastic looking patterns carved in wood and stone. The palace looks like a mysterious box designed with its intricate arrangement of rooms in a maze. You’ll be in awe of the painted and carved cedar doors that starts from the hall up to the closed gardens with fountains.
Moorish style lovers should definitely look and leisurely enjoy the unique palace that is full of arabesques and carved wooden ornaments. Take a stroll around the courtyard to see lots of orange trees and the cute fountain in the center. The palace creates a lasting impression because of its beauty and luxury. If you have the opportunity, take time to visit and use the services of a guide, for the history of the palace is very interesting.
Walking in an endless maze of (covered) streets and markets you will find yourself in a different, almost underground world of shops and eateries. At the Marrakech Souk, some shops are not wider than a meter, but it holds a great quantity of items that are beyond conception. Even above the ceiling, the sellers keep their merchandise and they always know exactly where, what, and whether it is available. And using a long pole equipped with a hook, all items are taken down, as these are sometimes three feet high with self-constructed racks.
After the goods are presented, the negotiation and haggling begins. The seller always starts with a price that is at least twice too high, which means the game of bidding is commonplace here. But they do it in a very professional way that gives more chance of success in the buyer’s favor. One of the odd things you will notice is seeing two stores next to each other where one sells sweet handmade biscuits while the neighboring shop complete fountains and door frames sold in Arabesque style.
The Jardin Majorelle is a well maintained horticultural garden with a wonderful atmosphere. It is better to visit it immediately after the opening in the morning, when there is not a lot of people. The garden is small, but filled with a beautiful history and unusual plants. It is an ideal place to take lots of photographs and the next best thing after a tour of the Marrakech Souk. It is the only place in Marrakech, where you can enjoy a walk and connect with nature. It is close to a lovely outdoor cafe where you can look, sit in the shade, sip cool drinks and simply enjoy the atmosphere.
The combination of being surrounded by bright yellow and blue pots, quiet ponds with goldfish, plus the cool shade and unusual flora creates a magical effect that sometimes makes tourists don’t want to leave this relaxing paradise. The house of Yves Saint Laurent is also located here and it is in this garden where his ashes were scattered after his death in 2009. The late French fashion designer has grown a fondness to this exquisite place and spent vacations in Marrakech to draw inspiration and comfort in this garden.
Jemaa el Fna
The Jemaa el Fna is a picturesque place in the city of Marrakech. This is Morocco in its most vivid manifestation. You can come here in the afternoon, take a look at any of the fakirs (magicians), snake charmers, Berber sellers of souvenirs and storyteller, musicians, traders of false teeth and jars and a lot more. It is required to come in the evening, when the whole area turns into a giant fast food right in front of the city center where you cook anything and everything, from the sheep's head, snails, and various kebabs up to making freshly squeezed citrus juice.
The best views of this event can be made from the balconies of nearby restaurants, but getting there can disappoint you because the prices are high and the space is usually reserved long before the beginning of the event. You can choose to jostle along the crowds on the ground and watch this unique attraction that is one of the best highlights of a visit to Marrakech.
Maison de la Photographie (House of Photography)
For its calm, its freshness and simplicity, for the inner peace that comes from this place and contrast with the city around it, the beauty of the photographs and time travel, for the wealth of texts, research provided for ones who love the Berber people and their traditions, the Maison de la Photographie is a must. The House of Photography is a beautiful place that allows you to find old photos of Morocco and Marrakech, and was made using various techniques.
The owner shares it in the hope that the present and future generations will be aware of how the lives of the Berbers used to be during the earlier times. Some of the images carry comments of the photographer who has done a marvelous work of preserving every image and videos contained inside this informative museum. You can finish the tour on the terrace with a glass of a good mint tea (or tagine) and a view over the rooftops of Marrakech and the bustling street below.
Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret
The Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret is the most famous mosque of Marrakech that is surrounded by a garden where you can sit and relax in the shade of orange trees. The high minaret is an excellent landmark reference, Only Muslims can enter this sacred place, but you can stroll outside and see some activities within its courtyard. The tallest minaret is visible from all parts of the town. The old mosque also stands close to the Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech's tallest building. It is also more popularly known as the twin version of La Giralda in Seville. At night it becomes more majestic as it gets brightly illuminated.
The Saadian Tombs are the only remaining vestiges of the Saadian dynasty that deserves a visit when in Marrakech. The mausoleum was discovered only in 1917. It houses the tombs of sixty persons from the dynasty of Sultan Al-Mansour (16th century). Members of the family are buried in the garden of the closest collaborators that also includes the high dignitaries during that era. Locally it is a well known spot and the people often refer to it as the “long hidden graveyard of "kings" and their relatives”. That is sandwiched in an ordinary residential area that is rich with historical value.
A tour of the tombs gives an idea of the ancient Arabic splendor of yesteryear. At the time when a lot of effort to create conditions need to be made for the first rulers of the city. Now it has become a memorable final resting place. It is fortunate that they have been discovered until sometime in 1912, or else they would just have been destroyed by the enemies of the Saadian family. Furthermore, it is still nicely maintained up to these modern times and you can see so many beautiful mosaics and intact carved wood decorations. It is worth visiting if you are not afraid of the crowds and the long lines.
El Badi Palace
The El Badi Palace is located in the middle of the hectic, busy center of Marrakech. But once you step inside this gigantic building you will find an oasis of tranquility. The tour is best done with a guide to have a better understanding of the palace because the information signs are in the Moroccan language and with no accompanying English translation.
The palace is located one block off the south side of the Medina. Admission is limited (10 Dirham’s) and there is a beautiful lookout which offers views of the Medina and the many storks that particularly seem to feel at home in this part of the city. If you want beautiful pictures of storks, you should definitely pay a visit here, they nestle around the entire building and come like an added feature of the attraction.
Marrakech Railway Station
The Marrakech Railway Station translates the successful mix of traditional architecture into a contemporary design. The building is impressive, light, and gives an enormous feeling of space. It is efficient, very clean, and details clear information on departure and arrival as the trains come and go with utmost punctuality.
Among other things, it is strongly recommended to use the trains to get to other major cities of Morocco; the service is prompt, economical, and enjoyable with great landscape views of the Marrakech. Outside the train station you can see petit taxi kiosks where they sell food and freshly squeezed orange juice. Adjacent to the races you will find the opera house and a bus station that has line connections with the cities' of Morocco that is not covered by the railway station.
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