Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

Morocco, Marrakech – review

Tasting the CACTUSES and the VLEAS. Running away from Snakes and ACROBATS. Marrakech’s main attractions and the city’s excessive popularity. Why is everyone drawn here?

♥ Hi all! ♥

Marrakech is probably the very first city that comes to mind when mentioning Morocco. It’s always on everyone’s lips, advertised, and tours there are popular. But is it really that good?

♥ ABOUT MARRAKECH ♥

Marrakech is the former capital of Morocco. It does not have access to the ocean, but because of its amazing atmosphere, the presence of beautiful hotels, the huge bazaar and the general historical value, it is always full of tourists.

Many people call it the red-brown, terracotta, sand city .This name comes from the color of the walls of the houses in the city. See for yourself.

In general, in Morocco there is a love for different colors. For example, Chefchaouen is completely painted blue as a reminder of God. The walls of Marrakech are painted red because this color does not irritate the eye in the bright sun, and all other colors sting the eye. I would argue with that, but I won’t!

♥ OUR RIAD – hotel ♥

In Marrakech we stayed for 2 nights at the Riad Arjan. The price for a night – 2800 rubles for two including breakfast. Riad is a hotel with a courtyard in the center of the open air. In general, it’s great with an unusual interior!

But it has its own twist If you want to read a funny story that happened to me there, read a review about this Riad.

♥ JEMAA EL FNA SQUARE ♥

Marrakech is not rich in landmarks. The most important of the few is the Djemaa El Fna Square. You have to try hard to pronounce the name. I never learned how to pronounce it correctly. From our riad we went to the medina and through the tangled streets we walked to the square. It took about 15 minutes to walk.

Early in the morning and late in the evening, the Medina is safe to walk through. But at this time there are no stores with sweets and the square itself dies out. And if you go out after 10 am, you’ll get into the flow of people who, like you, want to see the main attraction of Marrakech.

The name of the square sounds quite mystical and creepy in translation, combining two notions – a mosque and a place where death reigns. The first word is explained by the fact that there is a mosque on the square. The tower is seen in the faraway photo. And the second word is explained as follows:

In the early Middle Ages, horrible executions were carried out on it, so this fact is captured in its name.

Now there are a lot of vendors, food and juice stalls on the square. You can eat for 700-2000 rubles per person. And here you can see the snake tamers, acrobats and try snails.

Snake tamers

Sitting on the square in piles, in front of them is a closed straw box with a snake sitting inside. At some point, the tamer opens the lid of the box and begins to play the doodle (If you have also heard this tune from the cartoon “Well, wait a minute!” in your head, you are absolutely right. It is exactly like that). A cobra rises out of the box, but wriggles not very actively, it feels like it has been drugged with something. Also, these cobras have their fangs removed, so they can’t bite. But I was still wildly frightened and rushed to run when one of them crawled out of the box to our feet.

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There are also people walking around the square with snakes in their hands and can hang one around your neck without you asking. My friend is very afraid of snakes and it was a real shock to her. So be careful and watch out!

Acrobats

Very brazen people. They line up in a pyramid, then do somersaults. After this 1 minute performance, they start walking around the restaurants nearby and collect money from the tourists.Especially if someone took their picture, you can not pay. You can try to run away, though. We were sitting on the second floor, so we didn’t pay anyone anything.

Snails

You can try snails on the square in a boiled form. The price is about 400 rubles for such a portion.

You have to take them out with a toothpick. They taste like mud flavored curry. I did not like it.

The bazaar itself is very large. Once in a while there is some greenery among the sand walls and roads.

The prices of food and souvenirs here are clearly overpriced because the city is popular. In other cities in Morocco you can buy the same souvenirs, but 200-300 rubles cheaper. But the range here is more diverse. Particularly popular are oriental lights.

♥ BAHI PALACE ♥.

Another attraction is the Bakhi palace. It was built for one of the wives of the old ruler. The palace will be interesting to see for architecture lovers because it combines Arabic and Andalusian style.

The palace itself is huge; it has patios, a lot of rooms with unique wooden ceilings, halls with columns of expensive marble, arabesques, and so on.

The grandeur of the palace is also given by the exquisite garden, decorated with fountains.

Entry fee of about 15 dirhams.

♥ EL-BADI PALACE ♥

Another luxurious palace with a huge area. It is the oldest architectural monument in the city. Its name is translated as “incomparable” because the most expensive and high quality materials were used in its construction.

In addition to the usual chambers, the palace has an extensive network of underground tunnels and even swimming pools. The tunnels are also available for tourists. Unfortunately, the huge pools, in place of which are now sprouting orange trees and shrubs, have not survived.

But that’s not all. You can also climb to the roof of the palace and look at the red Marrakech from a bird’s eye view. By the way, high-rise buildings are forbidden in the center, so all the houses are the same height. The highest is the Koutoubia mosque, which can be seen from the main square.

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And of course there are the storks. They build their nests on the high walls of the palace. People can not get to them here, so you can safely raise your chicks, just like in Volubilis.

♥ MAJOREL GARDEN ♥

An oasis in Marrakech is the Majorelle Garden named after the Frenchman Jacques Majorelle who after visiting Marrakech was so impressed by nature that he bought a plot of land here and wanted to build a house and garden with plants from around the world.

The garden is very humid and if you come to Marrakech in summer, the Majorelle Garden is the perfect place to wait out the heat. Walking around, you can see various cacti and other plants, lily ponds, bamboo and parrots.

There are also cacti with fruits. By the way, we tried them, but not in this garden, but in the bazaar near the main square. Who would have thought that the cacti taste sweet and juicy, their pulp is similar in juiciness to the pitahaya.

♥ MARRAKECH MEDINA ♥

The medina of Marrakech is not very impressive after Fez. But here we met a donkey chewing straw peacefully. He wasn’t tied up and wasn’t even afraid of us.

In Medina you will encounter the stench of the dyehouses. And if you missed them in Fez, I suggest a visit. Just be sure to stock up on mint. Also, the doors here are beautiful, like in Chefchaouen. You can wander the streets forever and never find 2 identical ones.

♥ THE BABE-AGNAU GATE ♥

For lack of other interesting sights, we googled the Bab-Agnau Gate. A long search through the confusing Medina after an hour led us to a gate that didn’t impress us enough.

These gates are both the oldest and newest in the city. How could that be? Simply that their additional granite portal was not built until 1855.

The translation of the name of this gate means “ram without horns.” The gate used to have 2 towers, then they collapsed and it’s like the ram was left without horns. It’s a strange name, but the Marrocans like it.

This is all there is to see in Marrakech. The over-publicized city attracts thousands of tourists, but I would not like to return here, there is nothing to do. But I recommend to visit once, if only for the sake of cacti!

Thank you for reading my review. If it was helpful or just funny, take a few seconds to appreciate it!

I travel a lot, reviews of different countries around the world here.

If you are going to Morocco, I suggest you read the Guide to that country.

Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

The royal cities of Morocco have always been centers of learning, art, culture and trade, as well as the residence of the royal court. With its mixture of smells, colors, sounds, insistent merchants and thousands of human stories, you can step back in time to a lively and vibrant medieval city. In addition, Marrakech is the gateway to the arid region of southern Morocco with its earthen villages, deserted castles, palm oases and golden dunes .

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Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to an eastern atmosphere

Pro-European Morocco is a very accessible exotic country where French and most English are spoken. By air you can reach Casablanca in four hours by direct flight on Air Arabia Maroc or with a connection in Marrakech, and find yourself in another world. The East breathes much stronger here than in other North African countries, and yet it is completely safe. Women should wear long skirts and sleeves, always carry a scarf in case they find themselves in a less touristy area, in order not to violate the cultural customs of the country and not to raise false hopes among the local men.

Driving through the country, it is impossible not to notice its great diversity, especially in spring: poppy fields in bloom, the roar of huge waterfalls, monkeys scurrying overhead, and sheep grazing in the high mountain meadows near the rocky villages, the snow is still on top. And while swimming in the Atlantic is for the hardy, you can surf or just breathe in the salty air in one of the fishing harbors.

Jemaa el Fnaa – the square where life is

The city of Marrakech was founded in the second half of the 11th century in a strategic location at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. The city is dominated by the Koutoubia mosque, and more specifically its minaret. The square tower is decorated with a strip of blue ceramic mosaic in the upper part and topped with three golden spheres. In the evening, the minaret is beautifully illuminated, and local marrakers spend time under it . Young and old sit in the small park in front of the mosque, children play and spin on the world’s oldest carousel, which requires only a sturdy palm tree – a child grabs a palm leaf and bounces on it for a short distance. If there’s a friend who can be shooed away during this spin, so much the better. The children’s laughter is drowned out only by the exalted tone of the muezzin, but none of the locals move from their seats. The nearby Jemaa el-Fnaa square is illuminated by thousands of lights.

Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

Jemaa el-Fnaa – the square where life is

Marrakech has always been a market center for the Berber tribes, who came here to sell and spend. Moroccans have an incredible penchant for games involving betting. They gather in circles in the busiest square in the world, Jemaa el-Fnaa. Here curious tourists witness the unbridled excitement of the competitions – catching a bottle of lemonade on a rod, throwing a ball between two pins, as well as various shenanigans, musical performances, torchbearers, speakers, and women applying henna tattoos. This carnival takes place in the square, as if by chance and from time immemorial. There are many tourists here, more than anywhere else, but they blend in with the crowd. In the evening, the square turns into one big restaurant, a theater stage, and a place where folk storytellers and players on a traditional three-stringed instrument called the gimbri come to play.

The best views of the city in the morning and evening are from the rooftop terraces of some of the restaurants around the main square.

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The Medina of Marrakech – madrassas, palaces and tanneries

The streets of the medina, or old town, are quite wide and if they are not covered by sheds or mats stretched between the houses, they get a lot of light. You can wander through the winding market squares and find yourself in the wonderfully open space of Kissaria Square. In addition to the modern mosque, we find here the best Madrasa in Morocco, the Islamic University, built by Ben Youssef of the Almoravid family and designed by Granada builders . All the wooden structures and facades are covered with exquisite carvings and stucco. Opposite is the Kubba of the Almoravids, which apparently served the original mosque as a place of ritual bathing. The main pavilion, dating back to the 11th century, is sunk several meters below the modern surface of the city.

Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

The Medina of Marrakech – madrasahs, palaces and tanneries

You can still find the remains of cisterns, latrines and fountains, as well as many motifs used in architecture from that time until today.

You can continue to the area around the Northern Gate, where the tanneries are located. For the last hundred meters hikers no longer need a map or help from locals. Around the tanneries there is a very strong smell, because pigeon droppings are constantly added to the thoroughly mixed leach mixtures. As in Fez, the art of working and dyeing leather is handed down from father to son, from generation to generation in just a few families. The tanned hides are then dried on the roofs or yards of nearby houses. People work here without any means of protection, and it is not surprising that they often die at a young age from various respiratory and intestinal diseases.

Palm groves are a blessing and a worry for Berbers

The southern slopes of the Atlas Mountains descend into a desert region. The stony brownish-gray Hamad Desert is occasionally refreshed by palm oases, mud-brick villages or fortified citadels called ksura, or desert castles called kasbahs. Most of them can be seen from the RN10 road, also known as the “road of the kasebs,” south and later east of Marrakech.

Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

The palm groves are a blessing and a concern for Berbers

The village of Ait Ben-Haddou was originally built on the caravan route leading from the Sahara to Marrakech, and because it managed to preserve its original appearance and unique atmosphere, it was included in the UNESCO heritage list in 1987 . It has become famous mainly because of American and European film crews who have filmed a number of caste-based blockbusters here. No wonder it has served as the backdrop for so many films: when viewed from the river, the cluster of palaces, ornate towers and detached houses, clinging to the cliff, looks incredibly compact. Today there are only stores and souvenir stalls. You can walk all the way to the upper kasbah . From here you have a beautiful view of the valley.

Near Skoura, in a beautiful palm oasis, there are several interesting kasbahs. One is the ancient 13th century Ben Moro Castle, now a hotel, and the other is the 17th century Amerhidil kasbah, which is considered the most beautifully decorated and maintained kasbah in Morocco.

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Other Morocco travel tips

Essaouira is a port city with an almost Mediterranean character of white houses with blue shutters, a bustling fishing port, cries of seagulls soaring in the wind, a place made popular by hippies and now surfers.

Fez is the most important royal city and was home to the oldest university in the Islamic world, founded in 859, the school of Pope Sylvester II, to whom European civilization owes the introduction of Arabic mathematics. The interweaving of narrow alleyways with covered bazaars and open markets, tanneries, stores, and craft shops has maintained the same atmosphere for centuries. Meknes is a less touristy royal city with many palaces, winding streets, markets, the magnificent Bab Mansur Gate and the lively El Khedim Square. Nearby are the remains of the Roman city of Volubilis.

Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

More travel tips for Morocco

Atlas – in addition to climbing or trekking around the highest mountain in Morocco, the 4,000-foot Jebel Toubkal, you can also explore the beauty of the Atlas by car. The adventure route takes you to deserted villages with terraced fields, revealing many beautiful landscapes and waterfalls. Drive north out of Todra Canyon on the RN12 through Imilchil or on the RN23 east of Ouarzazate.

Tinerhir is a town in a wadi.

All river valleys with enough moisture have palm groves, and the Todga river valley near the city of Tinerhir and the Todra Gorge is no exception. The entire oasis of palm groves stretches across the dry river valley for almost 50 kilometers and is home to about 80,000 inhabitants, who belong to the Berber-Amazigh ethnic group, mostly engaged in agriculture or trade. So it is not surprising that each family here has a small field in a palm-fringed valley. They grow corn and alfalfa.

Marrakech, Morocco is a unique gateway to the oriental atmosphere

Tinerhir is a town in a wadi.

When alfalfa is without flower, it is only good as fodder for animals, but with flower it is used for dyeing cloth. Peaches, dates, figs, mulberries and pomegranates are also grown. Red cliffs slope toward the Oued Todga River , here and there a white minaret peeks out from the fertile belt by the river, and at the foot of the cliffs villages cling to each other, house after house, all square, all in warm colors. They are no longer built of wood and clay; even here, reinforced concrete has replaced most of the structures. But color and mass have not changed, and so the inhabited villages look the same today as the abandoned ones.

On the outskirts of Tinerhir is the abandoned village of Afanur. The road runs along the edge of irrigation canals and lush green fields, through lush palm trees. Beyond this vibrant greenery are the ruins of tall earthen houses and the dome of a mosque in their midst. A clever caretaker had the idea to renovate and open the ancient earthen shrine and make it one of three Moroccan mosques where tourists are allowed to enter.

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