Top 10 tourist attractions in Marrakech
Sightseeing is an integral part of any vacation. In addition to shopping, lying on the beach, and eating delicious food in restaurants and seaside eateries, time should be spent in a useful way. Marrakech has enough unique places, architecture and natural features to amaze even the most discerning tourist, which is why firms recommend this city for those who want to learn more about a new country.
Menard Gardens are popular not only among tourists but also among locals. Why do they attract the citizens of Marrakech? The answer is very simple: it is not only a unique natural attraction, but also a place to hide from the heat. On a sweltering day you can always find a salvation coolness here.
Menara gardens were laid out in the XII century and their purpose was just to save people from the heat. The gardens are arranged so that they grow near a large lake, which is fed by channels of internal waters. By absorbing water through their roots, the trees attracted even more lagas to the region and hence enabled the local population to farm successfully. In the gardens of Menard grow palms, olives and fruit trees. Here you can spot the pickers who carefully walk around the trees with baskets, picking the fruits and sending them to the market. The gardens are best viewed from a minze or pavilion that was once used by the sultan and his family.
Morocco is a former French colony, but it is also a distinctive country with its own history and culture. The influence of the metropolis is undoubtedly present.
The Saadid Tombs
The memorial complex for the ruling nobility and royal family was built five hundred years ago. And the burial complex itself was erected for more than a hundred years. Burials there lasted about two hundred years, after which the complex was closed, but at the beginning of the last century it was made accessible to tourists. The tomb is divided into two main mausoleums – 66 royalty are buried in the first, and around in the gardens about a hundred more. In the center are three halls with the burial of the founders of the dynasty, a total of twelve could there nearest relatives and descendants. Here each grave is covered with imposing tombstones of different stone. One can easily determine a person’s status by their appearance. The richest sarcophagi are covered with slabs of Italian marble.
The tomb is very rich and majestic, so it can be visited in order to see the architecture and not the tombstones, which have their own special value. The high ceilings, wide balconies, and passageways throughout the complex make it look more like a palace than a tomb.
The palace complex was once a splendid structure, powerful and majestic, but today it is ruined and all that is left of it are ruins. Nevertheless, the palace is still of historical and cultural value, and every year long lines of tourists come to it to touch the history of the city. It was given to Marrakech as a ransom from the Portuguese after one of the great battles, in which the Portuguese lost.
After the Arabs took possession of it, they restored the complex and used the most expensive materials to do so. According to the historical chronicles, the restoration took at least twenty-five years. During the reconstruction, gold was used, rare breeds of onyx, and expensive Italian marble was swapped for cane sugar. A total of three hundred and sixty rooms and several huge pavilions were arranged in the palace. All this is confirmed by the names of the palace, which contemporaries gave it – a miracle of wonders, incomparable, golden. It is difficult to assess this pearl of Maghreb architecture above.
Unfortunately, the palace was destroyed by the Arabs themselves, when one of the sultans, fighting for power, raided the building and ruined it. The result is the ruins, which even today attract visitors.
The Madrasah of Ben Youssef
Once upon a time the madrasah was a theological college founded for the study of the Koran. It was the largest educational center in North Africa, capable of educating some 900 students. The madrasah was centered near a huge courtyard and an elaborately decorated house of prayer behind it. Now it is not an educational institution, but a historical landmark that tourists love to visit. And there really is a lot to see here – the architecture alone is worth it! The style is reminiscent of the Alhambra in Spain. Throughout the complex you can find the intricate inscriptions in Arabic. Also you can see the mosaics, which are more than six centuries old!
On the south-west of the city above the medina rises the Qutubia Mosque. Kutubia means library or bookshop in Arabic. It was built in XII century and was the biggest mosque of Marrakech. Its minaret is 77 meters high. All roads to Marrakech lead to the Koutoubia Mosque, so tourists can not worry about missing the attraction. At one time, when Morocco was dominated by the French, the mosque was used for civilian purposes, but then it regained the status of a religious site.
Marrakech is a city of contrasts. Everything here is so tightly woven and contradictory that tourists once you get here for a long time to get used to the busy life.
A unique structure is built of red brick and consists of six spacious rooms, located one above the other. This stratagem was so that there was no opportunity to look into the sultan’s harem. To get to the mosque, you have to take a bus and get off at the stop of the same name.
To build this construction hundreds of the best architects were involved, who worked on it for six decades. Everything was conceived as a whole complex, a collection of small buildings near the main one. It was certainly not easy to implement such a project, but the result surpassed all expectations. In the XIX century, it was built for the Vizier. The combination of the best traditions of the Islamic world and influence from Morocco did its job – the palace turned out to be unique. It is now used as a civilian building and hosts guests of the highest level from other countries who visit Morocco – presidents, ministers, ambassadors, government officials of various ranks. Some of the rooms are open for tourists to see, there are gardens and even harem quarters.
The bustling Marrakech certainly takes its toll on visitors. Tourists are overwhelmed by the city’s architecture, religious buildings, noisy bazaars and huge shopping complexes. Everywhere there are smells of street food, restaurant noise, music playing somewhere – in such a flow of events one wants somewhere to rest. So visitors go to the Majorelle Garden, or the second name left over from the French – Jardin Majorelle. This is a real oasis of beautiful flowers and lush greenery. There is a patio where you can relax in the shade and drink tea. It is very refreshing in the heat.
Morocco is a country that has something to surprise tourists who come here. And if previously it was almost closed to tourists, but now it is actively .
The garden was named after Jacques Majorelle, a writer who, after moving to Morocco, spent nearly forty years planting the garden and growing trees. Officially, since 1980, the garden has been owned by Pierre Berger and Yves Saint Laurent. Today there is a slight renovation, but it has only benefited – there are winding paths through the garden, there are new exotic plants and fountains.
The old medina has its own charm, which tourists who have come to rest in Marrakech on their own, or traveling with a guide, should invariably feel. The medina is full of narrow streets and winding alleyways, which intersperse with small stores and catering establishments. You can look at the traditional riyads – Moroccan houses with courtyards. The balconies of these houses look out onto the atrium. It creates a sense of simplicity and mental richness, because according to Islamic traditions it is wrong to stand out. There shouldn’t be windows on the outside so as not to distinguish between the inhabitants, but all the windows on the inside are equally simple and not pretentious. There is no obvious demonstration of wealth, but good neighborliness and warm relations between the inhabitants. These principles are still upheld to this day by the Moroccans.
The Markets of Marrakech
Shopping is an obligatory part of any tourist trip. In any case, tourists want to take away a piece of memories from the country they visited. To buy a souvenir, a trinket, or something worthwhile, it is time to go to the markets of Marrakech.
Marrakech markets leave a lasting impression not only with their variety of goods. The whole spirit of the locals is concentrated there. The market is a good place to bargain and chat, the Moroccans will learn the latest gossip, so be prepared to wear your ears out quickly. The markets in Marrakech are specialized. One sells mostly carpets, another slippers, a third sells metalware, and a fourth spices. The so-called Jewish quarter offers shoppers a variety of trinkets – postcards, leather goods. Buyers can haggle, but the deal must be for at least half the price of the seller. As you can see, the margins at the market are enormous, but that’s what bargaining is for – you just can’t leave the market without talking to the seller.
Jemaa El Fna
The main square of the city is Jemaa El Fna, which can not be missed by tourists who came to explore the beauty of Marrakech. There is also a market where you can buy food and souvenirs. Local entertainment is also offered for visitors, for example, there is a snake charmer. His performance is interspersed with performances by dancers, magicians, and other members of the entertainment industry. Food stalls and eateries will not leave you hungry. Bazaar in Marrakech is very conveniently located – on one side of the market, and on the other side stretches a series of hotels, so get here is very convenient and certainly not pass by, if you take a trip with a guide.
Marrakech is a city of contrasts, it should be visited by anyone who likes to learn something new and get acquainted with the historical sites, which are in abundance here. Be sure to take your camera to capture these moments!
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What is worth seeing in Marrakech?
Marrakech is the most famous city in Morocco. Although it is not on the coast, thousands of tourists visit it every year. Many vacationers in Agadir come to Marrakech for 1-2 days of sightseeing, because to visit Morocco and not see Marrakech is nonsense. And that is not surprising. Marrakech offers its visitors a variety of entertainment for all tastes. You can stay in riads, which are palaces behind unassuming doors in the medina, or stay in a luxury hotel with a huge green area. You can eat in expensive French restaurants or you can buy unpretentious Moroccan food directly from street vendors.
The city center, the medina, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the heart of Marrakech and is where crowds of tourists flock in search of oriental flavor. From the central square diverge narrow intricate streets, turning to which you immediately begin to doubt that you’ll ever find your way back. As in many ancient cities, the medina is surrounded by a high fortress wall with twenty gates through which you can enter the old city. Due to the orange-red color of the walls, Marrakesh got its second name, the “Red City”. The medina is a lively place for trade. It sells fruits and bread, and clothing, and a lot of different incomprehensible things. In the middle of the street, people may be sleeping on the ground next to a shop. If you want to tickle your nerves, a walk along these shopping aisles will give you the perfect opportunity.
Jem el Fna
The central square of Djem el-Fna is a favorite place for evening strolls by tourists. This part of the old town evokes a mixture of admiration and wariness. There is not a lot of people here! Numerous souvenir sellers, street acrobats and snake charmers. Here you will be constantly offered to put a henna drawing on your body, touch a monkey, just begging. The historical role of this place is not very pleasant – numerous executions took place in this square. Now there are cafes and restaurants around Jem el-Fna, with excellent views of the square from the upper floors. Therefore, they are always crowded with tourists with cameras.
The main religious attraction of Marrakech, the Qutubiyah Mosque, located outside the Medina, is visible from almost every part of the city. Its construction began in 1147, and since then it is the benchmark for such buildings. Indeed, looking at it, you somehow begin to understand that this is the only correct architectural solution for structures of this type. The main detail of this construction is the minaret with the height of 70 meters. Around the mosque there is a small park. Unfortunately, the mosque is closed to non-Muslims.
Another mosque that is impossible not to notice when walking around Marrakech is the Mosque of Ali Ben Yusuf.
An interesting place, lost among the maze of narrow streets of the old city, is the Bahia Palace. This is one of the main tourist destinations. Here you will plunge into the luxury of exquisite palace interiors, you will see a wonderful courtyard, interiors decorated with mosaics, an orange garden with a fountain. You can visit the palace from 8:30 to 11:45 and from 14:45 to 17:45 for 10 dirham.
There are also several other palaces in Marrakech hidden in the unremarkable streets of the medina.
The Majorelle Garden
But Marrakech’s choice of attractions is not limited to the walls of the old city. Outside it, there is a beautiful park, on the shady paths of which it is very pleasant to stroll in the heat. It is the Majorelle Garden. It is located away from the city center, and if you walk to it, you can see the more modern look of Marrakech.
The Majorelle Garden was created in the 1930s by the French painter Jacques Majorelle. After moving to Morocco because of health problems, he fell in love with Marrakech and built himself a villa, which he surrounded with a botanical garden. With impeccable taste, the artist created the greatest work of landscape design, which has become one of the most visited landmarks in Marrakech. Situated in a small area, the Majorelle Garden is a place where you can see plants from all over the world. The history of the garden is a story with a happy ending. In the 1960s, after the death of the artist, the garden and the house fell into disrepair and the local authorities wanted to tear them down. But in 1966, Yves Saint Laurent and his friend bought them back and restored them. In the garden you will see a small pond overgrown with water lilies, the artist’s house-museum, painted bright blue paint, a variety of flowers, cacti, bamboo and many other interesting plants.
The garden is open to the public from 8:00 to 18:00. Admission ticket price is 50 dirhams, museum visit – 25 dirhams.
In addition to the Majorelle Garden, very popular are the Menara Gardens, located away from the city center in the foothills of the Atlas. This huge park, which enjoys well-deserved popularity among the citizens, is located on the territory of 100 hectares.
One interesting and popular place is the Cyberpark located near the entrance to the medina. Here you can not only hide in the shade of the trees from the scorching African sun, but also use the Internet for free. The park is located on the way from the hotel district to the old city, not far from the Qutubia.
To see Marrakech, you can take a tour bus or take a horse-drawn carriage. They are usually waiting for you outside the Medina. Be sure to bargain! Usually you can get three or four times the price. The route tends to go through the Djem el-Fna Square, then through the wider streets and finally, you leave the medina. From here you see a completely different view – modern hotels with a huge area, immersed in the greenery, areas set aside for entertainment – quad biking, camel riding, golf courses and other elements that indicate that Marrakech is a tourist-oriented city.
Marrakech, located in the middle of Marrakech, very crowded (the third largest city in the country), very noisy, dirty and polluted, nevertheless still attracts tourists with the remains of former luxury and sights, some of which are included in the UNESCO heritage list.
Jema el-Fna Square and the Medina
The main attraction of the city, which also has another unofficial name “Square of Severed Heads”. Long ago, criminals were tortured and then beheaded on this square and they were brought there from all over the country. For its originality at the end of the last century it was included in the list of protected cultural sites by the international organization UNESCO. It is not only the most popular place among tourists, but also among locals because it is here where they make their money. And if during the day on the square is relatively quiet and calm, but in the evenings here starts crowding, people come here to walk, have fun and have fun. It is here that you can try some very exotic local food, watch the play of street theaters, see snake charmers and generally feel all the colorful bustle of Marrakech. The square is a central part of the medina, the other famous landmark of Marrakech.
The Medina is nothing else than the old city surrounded by fortress walls, which can be reached through one of the twenty gates that open the way to it. In addition to Jem El Fna Square, Medina has interesting architectural structures such as: the Palace of the Bahia Palace, the Ali Ben Yusuf Mosque, and the Tomb of the Saadites, but more about them later.
Tourists will be very interesting to wander through the maze of old narrow streets, where life has remained unchanged for several centuries. By the way, it is quite easy to get lost here, and if you get lost, be prepared to part with a small amount of money that will be required to pay locals to get you out. In general, the topic of money hangs pretty sharp in Marrakech. Pickpockets and petty crooks abound here, so you have to be careful. You should also be prepared for the fact that you will be constantly imposing any service or just begging.
Located in the medina, a luxurious palace was built in the late 19th century and gives a great idea of how the richest Moroccans lived a couple of centuries ago. A great attraction in Marrakech is the Palace of the Bahia Palace which, when visited, gives an idea of how the noble and wealthy Moroccans lived in the 19th century, but after the death of its owner Ahmed Ibn Musa, the Grand Vizier of Marrakech, it was looted and only after some time, the next owners restored it to its former luxurious splendor.
The inner courtyard of the palace is decorated with elegant ornaments and a neat fountain, and the halls are stunning with the splendor of stone carvings and mosaics.
There are more than 150 rooms in the palace, but only the first floor is open to the public.
Ali Ben Yusuf Mosque.
The mosque and the adjacent madrasah is one of the oldest religious buildings of Islam. It was originally built in the 12th century at the command of the ruler Ali Ben Yusuf but was later practically razed to the ground by the rulers of the next dynasty and then rebuilt in its original form by one of the subsequent rulers. It was built in honor of the city’s patron saint, Yusuf ibn Ali Sahaj, famous for his deepest faith, humility and reclusiveness. The minaret of the mosque has a height of more than 40 meters and it is visible practically from any part of the city. Here is also the most ancient Islamic sanctuary of Kubba Ba adin. Mosque and madrasah are active and available for tourists.
El Badi Palace.
The Royal Palace built in the second half of the 16th century by King Ahmed Al-Mansour of Morocco is considered one of the largest in North Africa. Although time has not spared it, the power, wealth and grandeur of the former rulers of these lands stuns the imagination. Just look at the courtyard alone, measuring 110 by 135 meters. The palace was built of Italian marble and Indian onyx, which were then richly inlaid with gold mined in Sudan. However, all this splendor lived a little less than a hundred years, after which it was destroyed by order of another sultan, but at the moment there is an active restoration of the architectural complex. Several floors of the palace, consisting of two pavilions, has more than 350 rooms, and under the ground stretches an extensive network of tunnels. Between the pavilions is a huge pool traditionally used to collect rainwater.
The most pleasant and peaceful place in my opinion. Located in the west of Marrakech, on its very outskirts. It is a large park (an area of more than 100 hectares) with olive and orange trees and palm trees. In the heart of the park is a large lake and built a small gazebo. It seems to be nothing special, if you do not know about the fact that the date of creation of the garden complex dates back to the 12th century AD. In general, it is a wonderful place to visit, which is worth a break from the scorching sun and the noise of the city.
Bab-Agnau Gates (Bab-Agwenau).
One of the twenty gates leading into the medina, it seems difficult to call it a sightseeing attraction, but its origin and the semantic load that was taken into account during its creation is interesting. There are two versions of the name and each is associated with a different legend. The name Bab-Agnau in Berber means “hornless ram” and is associated with the fact that originally the gate had two towers, which were later destroyed. The second name, Bab-Agwenau, rather alludes to the slaves from Guinea who were shipped to Marrakech and it was through this gate that strings of slaves passed. By the way, it is by looking at them that you understand why Marrakech has the name “Red City”. The gate is a fine example of Islamic architecture of the late 11th and early 12th centuries, the basis of which was a smooth flow of arches from one to another, as well as rich carvings on the stone.
This is a large mausoleum in which are buried more than 60 members of the famous and powerful Saadi dynasty, which long ruled the lands where the city is located. By the way, a member of the dynasty was King Ahmed al-Mansur, whose palace was described above. It was built in the 16th century, but it was discovered only at the very beginning of the 20th century. The mausoleum consists of three rooms, each of which has a unique decoration made of marble, cedar and limestone, decorated with gilding, stucco and colorful mosaics.
Well, the last thing I want to say is that all attractions, except for the Djema el-Fna Square, it is best to visit in the first half of the day, otherwise you will not get any pleasure because of the scorching heat.