Top things to do in Marrakech

Top things to do in Marrakech, Morocco

Top things to do in Marrakech

The orange, reddish and ocher tones of the landscape surrounding Marrakech seem to be reflected in the facades of its buildings, making it worthy of the nickname given to it by the Moroccans: the Red City.

Marrakech was erected by the Almoravids in the mid-11th century, making it one of the imperial cities and serving as a base for the conquest of Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula. After several processes of decadence and resurgence, the city has a historical and architectural legacy that was complemented by a bohemian movement – in the 60s of the last century – to create a mysterious and exotic place that has become the biggest tourist attraction in Morocco.

Jamaa el Fna Square:

This large irregularly shaped square is undoubtedly the most emblematic place to see in Marrakech.

During the day, most of the square is simply an open-air space where a handful of snake charmers enchant the imperial cobras with the melody of their flutes. Nearby, healers sell concoctions to their faithful, while the cruder version of Western dentists seek customers to pull a few already lost teeth for the cause. And little else.

As the sun sets, however, Jamaa el Fna seems to come to frenetic life. People come out for a stroll and the place begins to fill up until it becomes a veritable carnival of storytellers, acrobats, musicians and other performers. Tourists and locals form groups around each of these street performers who seek to make a living from the tips of their spontaneous audience.

When dinnertime arrives, a plethora of stalls emanate the various smells typical of Moroccan cuisine. The square becomes a large open-air dining room. Strolling through it is one of the most authentic things to do in Marrakech.

Kutubia Mosque:

The absence of tall buildings in the Medina – Marrakech’s old city – makes the imposing minaret of the Kutubia Mosque stand out even more. At over 70 meters high, this is the oldest and most complete of the three great Almohad towers (the others being the Hassan Tower in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville).

Completed under Sultan Yacoub el Mansour in the late 12th century, the Kutubia Mosque displays a number of architectural features that would eventually spread throughout Morocco.

Having had its exterior cleaned a few years ago, its illuminated facade is one of the most spectacular nighttime sights to see in Marrakech.

Ride a dromedary through the palm grove of Marrakech:

If you have never ridden on the back of a camel – two humps – or a dromedary – one hump – a ride through the city’s palm grove should be on your list of things to do in Marrakech.

During the Almoravid dynasty, more than 100,000 palm trees were planted on an arid terrain of some 13,000 hectares, watered for centuries by a network of subway pipes dating back to the 12th century.

Today, gardens, residences and luxury hotels have sprung up, but given its vast extension, you can tour it, without disturbing anyone, on the back of your dromedary.

Visit to the Majorelle gardens:

One of the most curious places to visit in Marrakech is the Majorelle garden. The French painter Jacques Majorelle – son of an important cabinetmaker and Art Nouveau designer – went into exile, in 1919, to Marrakech to try to cure his health problems.

He bought a small estate just outside the palm grove and fell in love with the city. Soon after moving there, he confessed that he could no longer live without its noises, smells, tastes and the joy and hospitality of its people. A plant lover, Majorelle created his own botanical garden in the grounds of his estate.

The garden, which has a large number of exotic species brought back from his travels around the world, is a work of art. Cacti, water lilies, bougainvillea, palm trees, coconut trees, banana trees… A refreshing break in Marrakech.

Visit to the Bay Palace:

The Bahia Palace stands at the northern end of the Jewish quarter. It was built at the end of the 20th century by two grand viziers – father and son – making it one of the most luxurious monuments to see in Marrakech. Although its exterior facade and gardens are beautiful, inside the rooms you can only admire the ceilings, as the rest of the furniture was looted by the wives, concubines and servants that the grand vizier left behind after his death.

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