Marrakech

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Marrakech , also known as Marrakesh, is one of the imperial cities of Morocco.

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Points of Interest in Marrakech

There is much to see and do in Marrakech. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around all the different souks, seeking out the best bargains. The city also offers several historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums.

  •    Djemaa El-Fna. is the highlight of any Marrakech night. Musicians, dancers, and story tellers pack this square at the heart of the medina, filling it with a cacophony of drum beats and excited shouts. Scores of stalls sell a wide array of Moroccan fare (see the Eat section) and you will almost certainly be accosted by women wanting to give you a henna tattoo. Enjoy the various shows, but be prepared to give some dirhams to watch. By day it is largely filled with snake charmers and people with monkeys, as well as some of the more common stalls.
  • The Souks (suuqs). Markets of Marrakech, just adjacent to Place Djemaa El-Fna, are where you can buy almost anything. From spices to shoes, jellabas to kaftans, tea pots to tagines and much, much more. Undoubtedly, being a foreigner means you will end up paying higher prices than a native would, but be sure to bargain nonetheless. If you happen to run out of dirhams, you'll also find plenty of people in the souks who will eagerly exchange your dollars or euros (though a fair rate here is less likely than at an official exchange). All that said, the sellers here are much less aggressive than say, Egypt or Turkey, so have fun!
  •    Koutoubia Mosque (right besides Djemaa El-Fna). named after the booksellers market that used to be located here. It is said that the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque is to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. The minaret is visible from Gueliz which is connected to the Medina by Avenue Mohammed V. At night, the mosque is beautifully lit. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside.
  • Tanneries. Visiting the Tanneries can be an interesting experience. Even if some people tell you the area is only for locals, it is possible to visit the Tanneries without paying a youngster. After finding a Tannery, ask one of the workers if you can visit it and take pictures
  •    Saadian Tombs. were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century. They have been preserved just like they were during the glory days of the Saadian rulers. Unlike the El Badi Palace, they were not destroyed, probably for superstitious reasons. The entrance was blocked so they remained untouched for hundreds of years. Inside you will find an overload of Zelij (Morrocan tiles) and some beautiful decoration. It doesn't take a lot of time to explore, but it is definitely worth the visit. While here, look for the tombs of Jews and Christians; they are noted by their different markings and direction of the tomb.
  •    Majorelle Gardens. In Gueliz has an entrance fee of Dh 40 and is more expensive than other attractions. However, it provides an excellent respite from the hustle and bustle of the city streets. The park boasts a collection of plants from across the globe, including what seems like every cactus species on the planet. Get here early to avoid the crowds. Inside the gardens is also the Museum of Islamic Art, for which an additional entrance fee is charged.
  •    Dar Si Saïd Museum (on Rue Riad Zitoun Jdid, is a museum 5 mins away from Djemaa El-Fna.). Set in an old palace, it houses many different artifacts from Morocco through the ages, such as wood carvings, musical instruments, and weapons. It is dedicated to the Moroccan craft industry of wood, gathering a very beautiful collection of popular art: carpets, clothing, pottery and ceramics. All these objects are regional, coming from Marrakech and all the south, especially from Tensift, High Atlas, Soussthe, Anti Atlas, Bani, and Tafilal.
  • Ben Youssef Madrasa. One of the largest Madrassas in the North Africa. It is a school attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque and is home to beautiful art and architecture.
  • El Bahia Palace. An ornate and beautiful palace, popular with guided tours and stray cats. The palace is well worth a visit and gives a great impression of what it must have been like to be a 19th century nobleman in Morocco. There is a nice garden with banana flowers, tranquil courtyards, and other lovely plants. Admission is Dh 10.
  • El Badi Palace. A palace now in ruins and inhabited by storks and stray cats. There are some underground passageways to explore. Admission is Dh 10. The view from the terrace is majestic.
  •    The Menara gardens (west of the city). A mixture of orchards and olive groves surrounding a central pavilion which is a popular sight on tourist postcards. Not a decorative garden, and now quite run down. The pavilion was built during the 16th century Saadi dynasty, and renovated in 1869. It has a small cafe, but it is not open all hours. There are no toilets open when the cafe is closed.

Koutoubia Minaret

Souk Zrabi

Rahba Kedima

Dar Tiskiwin Museum

Djemaa el Fna

Souk Laghzel

El Badi Palace

Souk Smarine

Criee Berbere

Souk El Bahja

Almoravid Koubba

Dar Si Said Museum

Mouassine Mosque

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Marrakesh Museum

Bab Doukkala

Saadian Tombs

Bab Agnaou

Moulay Al Yazid Mosque

Bahia Palace

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Popular events in Marrakech in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
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About Marrakech

Background

The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) akush, which means "Land of God." It is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and lies near the foothills of the snow capped Atlas Mountains and a few hours away from the foot of the Sahara Desert. Its location and contrasting landscape has made it an enviable destination in Morocco.

The city is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character; it also contains the large square Jeema el fna, where many hotels are located and tourists, locals and vendors congregate. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.

Activities

The Medina

The old, historic district of the city.

The main square in the Medina is Djemaa El-Fna. It is surrounded by endless labyrinths of souks (bazaars) and alley ways covering all of the Medina. Djemma El-Fna is a must as there is always something to see there day and night whether it be snake charmers, acrobats, sooth-sayers,or the musicians and food stalls. At night the square really comes to life as people navigate toward the exotic aromas and the entertaining sights. As the evening darkens, the hustle & bustle of activity rages on. The exotic music appears louder and more hypnotic.

The Medina is also the place to stay in a Riad, a Moroccan house with an internal courtyard. Most windows are inward facing towards the central atrium. This design of property suits Islamic tradition as there is no obvious wealth statement being made externally, no windows to peer through. Entering a Riad is like discovering an Aladdin’s Cave in comparison to its non-descript exterior. They are great places to stay and offer an intimate and relaxing retreat.

Directly south of the Djemaa El-Fna is Rue Bab Agnaou. A five-min walk takes you straight to the famous Bab Agnaou entrance to the Kasbah district of the Medina. The Bab Agnaou entrance, through the ramparts, is by far the most impressive entrance of all medina rampart entrances.

The Kasbah, in comparison to the Derbs (streets) surrounding the Djemaa El-Fna, portrays a calmer, less abrasive atmosphere. It is home to the Royal Palace, also the former El - Badi Palace and the Saadian Tombs. This naturally creates better security, cleaner streets and a hint of being a special place within the medina. The Kasbah has its own little bazaars (Souikas), food stalls, restaurants, hotels and riads for travellers to enjoy.

Hammams

  • Les Bains de Marrakech. 2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou (same building as Riad Mehdi), +212 438 1428. Tourists-oriented in good sense: couples can have hammam together in a private room. Extensive list of massages and spa treatments from 30min to a full day. Reception and attendants are proficient in speaking English, however, the scrubbing and massage personnel speak only very basic vocabulary.
  • Hammam Dar el-Bacha, 20 Rue Fatima Zohra, men 7AM-1PM, women 1-9PM
  • Hammam Bab Doukkala, Rue Bab Doukkala, southeast corner Bab Doukkala Mosque, women noon-7PM, men 8PM
  • Thai marrakech Résidence Les Jasmins Apt N° 13 4ème étage Angle Av. Mohamed v et Rue Oum Errabia Guéliz "+212" (0)524 433 304 Bann Thai institute is a beauty center based in the heart of Marrakech. His team is a graduate of the famous school of Wat Po in Bangkok. The center offers several Thai massage relaxation with a traditional Moroccan hammam natural products [1]

Food

  • 16 cafe. Moroccan kitchen. 16 coffee is caterer of events and weddings.
  • Cafe Alhamra +212 6504 7411. Pl. Djemaa El-Fna, opposite Café de France. On the edge of the square, it serves up salads, pizza, and pasta as well as a tagine of the day. Their rooftop is a good place to have a late night coffee and pastry while watching the events in the square below.
  • Cafe Arabe, 184 mouassine (medina near dar el bacha),  +212 2442 9728. They have a Moroccan and an Italian cook, so there are two menus to choose from. There are three floors including the downstairs courtyard which is lovely for lunch. The top floor terrace has fantastic views, you can lounge on their sofas sipping a cocktail and watching the sun go down over the medina.
  • Cafe Mabrouk (off Djemaa El-Fna) serves the same standard fare as everywhere else in a little courtyard or terrace.
  • Chez Chegrouni, near the main entrance to the market. Their vegetarian couscous (Dh 30) is supposedly the only true vegetarian couscous in town; it's also bland but they give you plenty of it. Prices go up if you sit on the terrace. Usually packed full of good-time tourists.
  • Chez El Bahia is 50m away from Djemaa El-Fna on Rue Riad Zitoune (the street that starts at Wafa Restaurant). It's a quiet place. Try the chicken and olives tajine as well as the prune, almonds, and mutton tajine for about Dh 45 each. Also try the Moroccan salad while they cook the rest of the food.
  • Chez Yassine is 5 mn north from the Koutoubia mosque, 70 Rue Fatima Zohra Rmila (next to the Bacha hamam). Not much choice but served by very friendly people. Tajines (Dh 28) and pizzas (Dh 20-35) are great and you can also order skewers that are not on the menu.
  • Delhi Place Indian restaurant, Hotel Royal mirage, Avenue De La Menara Mohamad 6. lunch and dinner. Indian cuisine and is decorated in the Indian style. €15 to 20.
  • Earth Cafe in the Medina is vegetarian-friendly. Number 2, Derb Zawak, Riad Zitoun Kedim, ☎+212 6054 4992, +212 6128 9402. Also available are vegan alternatives and plenty of options for fruit and vegetable-based drinks.
  • Henna Cafe (93 arset aouzal souikat), bab Doukala (Go to the taxi rank at Dar El Basha and walk 100 yards up towards Bab Doukala. Henna Cafe is on the right side),  212 656566374. 10-late. If you want to travel ethically then this is your place! A pretty little cafe on 3 floors with an orange sign on the berber hand carved wooden facade opened in November 2011. You can have a cup of tea/coffee (80p) or simple lunch with dessert or just a sandwich (approximately £2). The Henna Cafe offers safe henna body adornment as well- ranging from a 50 dhm small motif on your hand to a full arm complex design for a wedding from 500 dhms. All profits go to local causes. Henna cafe was set up by the owners of Riad Cinnamon and Riad Papillon and Vivid Trading in order to start to 'give back' to Marrakech and offer support to those who might want it. Currently the cafe offers free English lessons to Moroccan women so that they can find employment out of the home.
  • Maison de la Photographie, 46, Rue souk Ahal Fès (200 m behind Ben Youssef Medersa - Koranic School). A little photography museum, it has one of the highest roof terraces in the Medina. Over lunch of a fixed price menu (at 75DH as of 2012) you get panoramic views over the city and the High Atlas mountains.
  • Le Marrakchi is opposite the market and adjacent to the newspaper stand. With two main courses and wine running at around Dh 300, this is one of the poshest restaurants in the square. The food is not necessarily better than elsewhere, but it is one of the few restaurants that serves alcohol. It also has a completely enclosed upstairs terrace, which is ideal for views of the square when the weather is bad.

For more upscale eateries (and especially for non-Moroccan cuisine) you generally must go outside the Medina to Ville Nouvelle. However, Diaffa (Rue Jbel El Akhdar just off Av. Mohammed V, across from Club Med), is an upscale restaurant in one of the oldest buildings in the Medina, and offers Moroccan cuisine in an ambiance that recalls the Orient at the height of its magic and glory. The food, building (whether the tables around the central courtyard and fountain or the second-level balcony), and tactful and tasteful entertainment.

  •    Dar Najat's Kitchen, Douar Groua, derb lalla chacha, N.18 (Five min walk from Jema el Fna),  00212524375085. 20/23. Daily fresh food in a Boutique Riad. 23 euro/pax.


Vegetarians will find that there are few options outside the ubiquitous Tagine avec Legumes (vegetable stew), Couscous avec Legumes, cheese omelette, pizza and salad.

How to eat (well) in the Djemaa El-Fna

Each night in the Djemaa El-Fna rows of street stalls are set up under giant white tents. The huts targeting tourists serve similar fare and have menus printed in French, Arabic and usually English. Everyone has tajine, couscous, brochette and some variety of soups. Some have specialities like offal, egg sandwiches or special tajines. Be aware that most restaurants employ rather insistent "greeters," who are very aggressive in trying to customers for their stall. The line 'we already ate' seems to work well to get them to stop.

If you want to eat well in Marrakech, do what the locals do and eat at the food stalls in the square. It is a common misconception that these stalls are only here for the tourists. Actually, they have been in existence long before Marrakech became a tourist destination. All of the stalls can be regarded as perfectly safe to eat at. They are strictly licensed and controlled by the government, especially now as it is a popular destination for tourists. The locals eat at the cheaper stalls that don't employ greeters and serve the more interesting food: snails, sheep head, lentils and beans...

Some tips:

  • Prices tend to vary a little. Depending upon how hungry you are, you can pay anything from Dh 10 for a bread filled with freshly grilled sausages or perhaps a bowl of harira soup to Dh 100 for a full three course meal with salad, bread, starter, main course, and tea.
  • Try harira (great soup, of lamb/beef, red lentils and vegetables) and the fried aubergines. Don't be afraid-try the lamb head: it's really tasty. The "bull stew" (beef stew) should also be given a chance in the same stalls.
  • Don't miss the tea! There is a row of tea sellers along the front of the food stalls who each sell tea for Dh 1.5 each (Dh 3 seemed the going rate as of 7/2011). Most of the tea at these stalls is actually ginseng tea with cinnamon and ginger... most delicious and welcoming. They also have cake, made of basically the same spices, which can be a bit overpowering.
  • All food stalls at Djemaa El Fna display the price on the menus, making it less likely you'll be overcharged, but many will bring starters to you without asking, then charge for them at the end.
  • Drinks are rarely on the menu so it is better to ask the price of them before ordering, as they can often be comparatively high. On the other hand some stalls offer free mint tea to encourage you to choose them.
  • Early mornings, look for people frying riifa in the covered part opposite the Koutoubia. Riifa is dough stretched and flattened and folded over, then cooked in a frying pan, and is best described as a Moroccan version of a pancake or crepe.

Drinks

Street vendors offer fresh orange juice (jus d'Orange) by the glass for Dh 4. Try it with a dash of salt like the locals, but be wary of vendors who try and water the juice down with tap water. Also, pay attention when you buy as they offer 2 types of orange...the blood orange juice costs Dh 10 per glass and a misunderstanding on what you want to drink could occur.

Confirm the price of your orange juice and pay for it before you drink. Unscrupulous vendors will sometimes try to charge you Dh 10 for a Dh 4 glass of jus d'Orange, so don't accept your drink until you've paid the correct amount.

Be wary also, that they do not always clean the glasses very well so it is possible to get an upset stomach from the juice.

There is a very limited selection of places selling alcohol in the Medina.

  • Chesterfield Pub, 115 Avenue Mohammed V (In the Hotel Nassim). A slightly unusual experience, apparently an 'English pub' it serves Moroccan lager and has an outside pool in a courtyard with palm trees, not an entirely English experience. Much less touristy than it sounds with a mainly local clientele. It serves a decent pint.
  •    Hotel Grand Tazi, Rue Bab Agnaou. The hotel has a public bar, serving beer and wine and is not overly expensive.
  • Narwama +212 6 7250 8700. Hay Zefriti 30, Rue Koutoubia. Restaurant and bar that has a fire fountain in the centre and an open roof around the patio. The atmosphere is very chilled and their food is very good, but slightly expensive. This place is better for pre-dinner drinks.

Outside the Medina.

  • Acima, If you are walking from the Medina to the Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle), this supermarket is located in the basement of the building on the corner of Boulevard Prince Moulay Abdellah and Avenue Yacoub Al Mansour. This is a very good supermarket to buy all kinds of food, including a large variety of alcohol (wine, beer, and liquor). No haggling needed as all prices are marked and listed. You can even buy a nice variety of spices here.

Shopping

Along with the major souk (Arabic for 'market') adjacent to the Djemaa El-Fna, there are a plethora of smaller souks throughout the city where any number of products can be had. In any of them, you generally need to bargain. Keep an eye out for a wide array of hand-crafted candle-holding lanterns, as well as spectacular displays of local spices.

Argan oil, produced only in Morocco, is used in Moroccan cooking and beauty treatments. If you enjoy its unique nutty flavor, be sure to pick some up in the souks. It will cost you about Dh 70 at local supermarket for cooking oil or Dh 200 for genuine cosmetic oil.

Marrakech is home to a large tanning industry, and leather goods of high quality can be bought here cheaply. Check out camel leather items especially - jackets, round poufs, and handbags.

For the shoes always check they have no paper inside the plate (sole in french) because it is very common, don't be fooled by demonstration of how they bend the shoe and turns back to the position try it yourself by feeling and hearing how the paper bends. For poor quality one you shouldn't pay more than Dh 40 and for a good one no more than Dh 90, shop around and learn the difference between the quality.

Also of interest would be items made of the local cactus silk, which is really rayon, a natural fiber made of plant cellulose and produced in Morocco. Rayon holds the chemical dyes well which accounts for the vibrant range of true colors (natural dyes cannot produce a "true" color). On offer are scarves, handbags, tablecloths, bedspreads and throws in stunning colors. Some merchants try to charge a premium price for this "cactus silk". Check well because there are many fakes and sellers will usually tell you any lie to get you pay a high price.

Be sure to wander round the potters' souk, and look for brightly colored platters and bowls, as well as tagines in all sizes

Lovely cashmere shawls can also be had for less than a fiver with a little bargaining.

If you cannot stand the bargaining, there are two government run shops where you can buy handicrafts at fixed prices. Look for boutique d'artisans. One is near Djemaa El-Fna while the other one is in the ville nouvelle.

An option to explore the souks in a more tranquil way is to go during the Friday prayer. Although some shops will be closed, most stay open and are significantly less crowded than at other times.

The Apple and Samsung smartphones being sold on Jeema el fna are Chinese-built fakes; they work fine but employ less storage and cheaper components than the originals. Bargain accordingly.

Prices

As a guide for prices, maximum and generous prices you should pay.

  • Djellaba, long coat with hood for men, made of cotton/wool. Low quality: Dh 90. Good (thick) quality: Dh 300.
  • Paintings, depends on the quality and size but no more than Dh 50 for a 70x50cm.
  • Shisha, Dh 150 for the smallest ones. Prices then vary with size and quality.
  • Tobacco for shisha, Dh 20. There are many flavours and decent prices at the duty free store at the airport in Marrakech.
  • Shoes, for home, no more than Dh 50 for a good one, for the street no more than Dh 90 for a good quality one.
  • Lamp, no more than Dh 60 for a medium size lamp.
  • Woven beanie, Dh 15.
  • T-Shirt, no more than Dh 50 for a large.
  • Small wooden snake toys, Dh 5.
  • Small teapot (2-3 cups), Dh 90-100.
  • Medium size cooking tagine Dh 40. (Choose carefully, glazed tagines have a risk of releasing unsafe levels of lead.)
  • Dress for women, poor quality, not wool, Dh 30.
  • Carpets: Dh 1,000 for a white wool carpet that is 8ft x 12 ft
  • Dates: Dh 10 for a box (especially true if you buy near place they grow, like between Zagora and Agdz)
  • Henna tattoo: medium sized design should cost no more than Dh 50 (Ask for brown henna if you are allergic to PPP black henna, the brown henna is natural and safe)
  • You can order special gold jewellery items like a chain with your name on it or using a customised design but ensure you have agreed on the price beforehand.
  • Dishes: you can find small ones with Dh 40 to 60, depending on quality and decorations...
  • Bananas, Dh 8 per kilogram, in season.
  • 250g of gunpowder tea, Dh 30. Although best bought at a supermarket.
  • Round piece of bread, Dh 1,5.
  • Spice Mix "4 Spices" 76,50 Dh/Kg
  • Spice Mix "Spices for Fish" 79,00 Dh/Kg
  • Spice Mix "Spice for Tagine" 69,95 Dh/Kg
  • Cumin 39,90 Dh/Kg
  • Curcuma 44,40 Dh/Kg
  • Ground Cinnamon 39,95 Dh/kg
  • Ground Ginger 54,50 Dh/Kg

Don't bid for a price that you are not willing to pay.

Even hostel prices can be haggled.

Remember, sellers are just the middle man, they don't produce it, except maybe for some kinds of lamps, and they pay very little to the people who actually make it. Please also NEVER pay in advance. And NEVER let anyone write you an invoice. Its a bad idea and in most of the cases you will never see your goods or money back.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Marrakech on Wikivoyage.

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