It can be very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, aside from its gorgeous coastline, Morocco is a dry, arid kingdom, with nothing but dusty roads threading between sandy fields and sun-baked cities. In reality however, Morocco is dotted with verdant fields, large wooded areas and sparkling streams. In the south near…
Marrakech has stood for close to a thousand years, a city of history and culture.
One of the most evocative places in the world, just the name conjures up images of this cultural melting pot – sandstone buildings, dusty streets and towering minarets against deep blue skies immediately spring to mind.
Known as The Red City thanks to the hue of the thick walls surrounding the old city, Marrakech has been a popular tourist destination in Morocco since the 1960s, attracting everyone from the Beatles to Sienna Miller. It’s a place to engage the senses, nowhere more so than in the famous souks. These vibrant markets are a whirlwind of colour and noise, where throngs of people weave between tightly packed stalls exhibiting pyramids of brightly coloured spices, richly woven rugs and a thousand other exotic goods. Enticing smells waft through the souks, and the clamour of voices haggling and the cries of vendors competing for customers provides a constant backing track to the city.
It’s almost impossible to walk through Marrakech for more than five minutes without finding some architectural wonder to marvel at. From the exquisite gardens to the intricately carved archways to the ornate mosques, this is a city that displays its history in its man-made environment. The Medina in particular is a sight to behold: designated a UNESCO World Heritage Centre it’s a wonderful mix of Amazigh, Arabic and Moorish architecture.
When it comes to entertainment, Marrakech blends cultures to magical effect. Jemaa El-Fnaa is the busiest square in the whole of Africa, packed with fire-eaters, cross-dressing bellydancers, Amazigh acrobats, astrologers, and a hundred other types of street entertainers. Marrakech also plays host to many festivals such as the Dakka Marrakchia, the Popular Arts Festival and the Marrakech Biennale.
A more relaxed time can be had on one of Marrakech’s fine golf courses, or for a delightful pampering experience then seek out one of the many hammams that are a speciality of the city.