Get ready to have your senses shocked. The heady sights and sounds of Marrakesh will dazzle, frazzle, and seduce you.
The Saadian Tombs are embellished by an extravagant bounty of marble, while the Bahia Palace and the Dar Si Said are a riot of tilework and delicate floral painted-wood ceilings. The Musée de Mouassine and the Musée de Marrakech are showcases of swirling stucco and carved-wood design. You can also sleep among some of this splendour if you decide to spend the night in a riad. The souqs’ contemporary artisans and the Ville Nouvelle’s contemporary art and design scene keep Marrakesh, a city rich in old creativity, alive and thriving.
When you hear the mosques’ resounding call to prayer reverberate throughout the neighbourhood, you’ll realise how much religion infuses the rhythms of daily life. The Ali Ben Youssef Medersa and the Koutoubia minaret are the two most spectacular pieces of Islamic architecture in Marrakesh, which served as a historic imperial capital. The city also preserves the history of the various religious groups that once supported its development as a thriving caravan town. Visit the Lazama Synagogue and the Miaara Jewish cemetery in the old Jewish neighbourhood of the mellah to learn more about Marrakesh’s cosmopolitan past.
Imagine the souqs of the medina as a mall that is designed like a maze from the mediaeval times. This magpie’s nest of treasures is nectar for shop-til-you-drop devotees, whether you want to buy a carpet to add Moroccan flair to your home or spice up your pantry with North African flavours.
Souq Semmarine and Souq El Kebir are the two primary market streets. If you find anything there that really appeals to you, go for it, but be aware that the cost will be more. The best prices are typically found in smaller souqs and souqs devoted to artisan workshops, such Souq Haddadine (Blacksmith’s Souq), where you can purchase directly from the producer.
Have you prepared a map? It’s probably not much use to you in this situation. The medina is Marrakesh’s most impressive sight, with bustling souqs, sheep carcasses hanging from hooks next to glittering lamps, and winding, ochre-dusted passageways that lead nowhere. It is encircled by 19 kilometres of powder-pink rammed-earth fortifications. The large square of Djemaa El Fna, where it’s carnival night every night, is the major entryway into this confusing maze. Discover the frantic heartbeat of the old city as you go by snail dealers, soothsayers, acrobats and conjurers, musicians, and slapstick acting troupes. The party goes on until the lights are turned off.