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MARRAKECH

Destination Morocco: Why Not Choose… Marrakesh?

Welcome to Marrakesh, a magical imperial city and a luxuriant sun-soaked oasis. Allow yourself to be dazzled by the contrasting colours of this mythical city and awaken your senses with its delicate scents of jasmine and orange blossom.

As the first destination of Morocco, Marrakesh invites you to discover its treasures of the past as well as the continuous energy of its modern culture.


A city full of life and architectural splendours

From the moment you arrive, you will be immersed in the authentic atmosphere of Marrakesh. At the heart of the city, and surrounded by its walls, the medina invites you to wander through its labyrinth of narrow streets and to discover its countless souks. Curry, coriander, saffron, ginger, cinnamon and henna: the infinite colours and scents that are sure to make your head turn!

The bustling life of Marrakesh also unfolds in the Jemaâ El Fna square, especially from the end of the afternoon. Discover the shows and entertainment that take place in the square, where snake charmers and fortune tellers will amaze you throughout a truly magical night.

But if you come to Marrakesh, it is also and especially for the splendour of its architecture and richness of its history. The city abounds in mosques, palaces and fountains, each more magnificent than the last. Do not miss the Koutoubia, regarded as one of the most beautiful monuments of the Maghreb, with its 77 metre high minaret, or the Bahia Palace, a true masterpiece of Moroccan architecture. A reflection of magnificent Saadian art, the Ben Youssef Medersa ranks as one of the most important historical monuments of Marrakesh. The Mouassine fountain, built in 1570, is admired by all with its cedar wood lintels and its magnificent canopy.

Marrakesh also has many museums. Amongst the most remarkable, is the Marrakesh Museum, that honours contemporary art and cultural heritage, and the Dar Si Saïd  Museum, where you can admire woodwork, jewellery , potteries , ceramics, weapons, carpets , textiles and a few archaeological pieces.

Aspiring archaeologists will also be able to visit the Saadian Tombs, royal necropolis of the Saadian family found in the early 20th century.

Finally, there are also numerous parks and gardens in Marrakesh that offer a well-deserved retreat from all this bustling life and these cultural splendours. The great Menara, or on a smaller scale, the Majorelle Gardens, are true havens of peace in the heart of the city.


Top 10 Must-Sees

 

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The Medina: this medina, largest of the Maghreb, is classified on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is a must-see as it gives an idea of what could also be a European city of the Middle Ages, with its narrow streets, merchants and huge shopping areas. A real city within the city, the Marrakesh souks offer all the local craft production: leather goods, ironwork or even simple slippers, as well as spices and jewellery.

The Jemaâ El Fna Square: as the beating heart of the city, this square has been classified on the list of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2001. It is a place for shows and meeting people, with restaurant stalls offering a variety of food and drink. In the evening, storytellers, fortune tellers, acrobats and musicians give this place its unique atmosphere.

The Mosque of the Booksellers (Koutoubia): this religious building, built in the 12th century, is representative of the art of the Almohads. A true architectural masterpiece of Hispano-Moorish influence, it is admired for its simplicity and its minaret, reaching 77 metres in height. The three balls of gilded copper symbolising the earth, water and fire are featured at its summit.

The Ben Youssef Medersa: located in the centre of the old town, the Ben Youssef Medersa was the largest Koranic University of its time. Built in the 16th century, it is a perfect example of Arab-Andalusian architecture. Today, it still hosts students wishing to learn Koranic theology and still benefits from an excellent reputation.

The Marrakesh Museum: the Marrakesh Museum is housed in the Dar M'Nehbi Palace, one of the most beautiful from the end of the 19th century. It hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art alternating with more traditional art. Do not miss its large courtyard with fountains, nooks, alcoves and arches, as well as its beautiful tadelakt walls covered with zellij.

The Mouassine Fountain: this fountain, the largest in Marrakesh, is part of the “Mouassine” complex which includes a mosque, library, hammam and a medersa. Built in the 16th century, during the Saadian period, it is a beautiful architectural composition and includes three major waterers covered with domes that are opened onto the street through three archways.

The Majorelle Gardens: a true haven of peace and freshness, this garden designed by the painter Jacques Majorelle, offers a moment of calmness and absolute serenity, which contrasts its exterior. Stroll among the plants, ponds, fountains and ceramics and let yourself be carried away by the natural fragrances and singing of the birds.

The Bahia Palace: built around 1880, the Bahia Palace was the home of vizier Ba Ahmed, the most powerful man of Morocco from 1894 to 1900. A true masterpiece of Moroccan architecture, the Palace comprises of a group of beautifully decorated disparate houses, leading to flowered patios.

The Saadian Tombs: they are part of the few remains of the Saadian dynasty who reigned during the golden age of Marrakesh between 1524 and 1659. In fact, at the start of the 18th century, the sultan Moulay Ismaïl decided to banish all trace of the magnificence of this dynasty. However, he did not dare commit the sacrilege of destroying their graves and to block the entrance of the necropolis. The secret remained well-kept until the rediscovery of these tombs in 1917.

The Menara Gardens: away from the souks and the bustling city, these gardens from the 12th century are a haven of peace and quiet. An interesting pond of breathtaking dimensions, flanked with a charming Saadian inspired chalet and surrounded with olive, palm and cypress trees, serves as a reserve of water supplied by the mountains.


Give in to your taste for adventure

Of course your stay would not be complete without traditional couscous, but there are so many other delights to discover in Marrakesh. The pastilla, a well-known speciality, tanjia, a mutton and vegetable dish that is stewed all night over hot ashes, or even harira, a soup made from either chickpeas or lentils, traditionally served during the month of Ramadan.

There is no need to boast about the refinement of the Moroccan pastries as honey, almonds, cinnamon and orange blossom will delight your taste buds. Of course, these sweets are accompanied by a mint tea prepared in accordance with the usual methods.


Cultural Events

 

11 January: Independence Manifesto

Commemoration of 11 January 1944, which marked the independence of Morocco in its territorial integrity.

June: Popular Arts Festival

Folk festival created in 1960 and initiated by King Mohammed V, to promote Moroccan traditions, particularly the dances, songs and costumes.

30 July: Feast of the Throne

This festival, the most important of Morocco’s civil festivals, celebrates the day of the Monarch’s enthronement.

August: Youth Day

In honour of all the young people of Morocco, this festival is the opportunity for them to celebrate without constraints. It also corresponds to the date of birth of the Moroccan King Mohammed VI and aims to demonstrate that there is a strong link between the people and the king.

18 November: Independence Day

This is the country’s national holiday, which celebrates the end of the French Protectorate over Morocco in 1955.


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