WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN MARRAKECH?
Marrakech is one of the most popular destinations in Morocco, for its cultural heritage, its colours, its colourful souks… The city is divided into two parts: the medina, which is enclosed within 10km of the ramparts and contains most of the interesting sites, and the new city where there is little to visit.
This selection will show you the essential experiences not to be missed in Marrakech, and help you prepare your itinerary and organize your stay.
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Here are 10 must-see things to do and see during a trip to Marrakech:
1. The Koutoubia Mosque
Located on Mohammed V Avenue, the Koutoubia Mosque dominates the city with its 77 meters high. It’s impossible to visit Marrakech without stopping in front of it. The mosque is beautiful but if you are not a Muslim, you will not be able to enter it. On the other hand, nothing prevents you from going around and walking in its green gardens. The building is surrounded by it. Do it preferably at night because the monument has a very beautiful lighting that makes the show even more magical.
2. The Majorelle Garden
This old garden, which is a small corner of paradise in the heart of the red city, has come alive again thanks to Yves St-Laurent. It’s the perfect place to take a refreshing walk. Take time to stroll along the shaded paths and let yourself be carried away by the murmur of the waterways and the chirping of birds, attracted by the many exotic plants. But above all, admire this intense blue! And don’t forget to take a look at the Berber Museum of Art and Culture next door. The complete visit (garden + museum) will cost you 100 dirhams (less than 10 euros).
3. The Bahia Palace
A visit to the most sumptuous of Moroccan palaces is a must. Especially since you will only pay 1 euro to enter. If its construction took 6 years, count at least two hours to discover the whole architecture of the place: the mosaics as far as the eye can see, the coloured ceramics, the high decorated ceilings, the moucharabiehs, the stuccoes… You will see in every detail everything that makes the wealth of Moroccan know-how. And then there are the gardens too. It’s a small paradise planted with orange trees, banana trees, palm trees, hibiscus, jasmines and much more.
4. The city walls and gates of the city
Marrakech is surrounded by a 19-kilometre enclosure with 200 towers and 22 gates (bab). So you may not have time to go through it all. Then head towards Bab Agnaou, it’s probably the most beautiful of all with its pretty stones of Guéliz. And above all, it’s the main gateway to the city. But if you want to see more, don’t hesitate to rent a carriage. You will better appreciate the vastness of these warm-coloured ramparts.
5. El Badi Palace
All that remains of this building, richly decorated with marble, turquoise or crystal, are the high stone walls and an esplanade surrounded by gardens. In short, this palace located in the south of the medina is in fact only a vast ruin that hosts mainly festivals (the Marrakech of laughter…). However, the visit is still worth a visit if only to get a glimpse of Marrakech in the past. For only one euro, you can watch a film explaining the history of the place and visit the basement which was a prison at the time.
6. The medersa Ali Ben Youssef
Unfortunately, the medersa is closed to the public for renovation work for 2 years. You will not be able to visit the one that was the largest Koranic school in Morocco and North Africa. It’s all the more sad because it’s the only religious monument open to non-Muslims. It will therefore be necessary to return in May 2020 to admire the prayer room and the courtyard with its most sumptuous decorations: sculpted stucco, mosaics, zelliges, marble. All the Arab-Andalusian architecture found there is a tribute to God. A precise work which, as you will see, contrasts with the austerity of the students’ small dormitories.
7. Jemaa el-Fna Square
It’s impossible not to go to Jemaa el-Fna Square, it’s the most lively place in the city. The square is lively day and night but from 5pm on, it’s a real theatre. Between snake charmers, storytellers, henna tattoos, street restaurants and music groups, you won’t know where to turn your head. The place is crowded, so be careful. Be as firm with the sellers and you will be able to enjoy, with great pleasure, a nice walk, rich in colors and scents.
8. The souks
In Marrakech as in the whole country, souks are organized by profession. Everything is so well organized that you will be treated to a real live show: shops that never end with geometrically arranged stalls. The most beautiful example is the Attarine souk (the spice market) where condiments are presented in the form of coloured pyramids. But the other souks have nothing to envy him. The clothing market (souk Ahiak), the slippers market (souk Smata) or the leather goods market are also a real treat for the eyes.
9. The Saadian tombs
You have here a visit not to be missed (especially for 1€ the entrance!). Inside the mausoleum, 3 rooms house the tombs of about sixty people, that of Al-Mansur, his family and his successors. The tombstones are richly decorated with marble, coloured zelliges and pretty sculptures. Some have Arabic scriptures, most of them quotes from the Koran. Take a guide, he will tell you the story of the Saadian dynasty and tell you who is who in this maze of burials where there is an atmosphere of meditation.
10. The house of photography
Located in the heart of the medina, the Maison de la Photographie is a must for photography lovers and amateurs. For only 4 euros, you will find yourself in a very pretty (but small) riad looking at a magnificent collection of photos depicting the Marrakech of yesteryear. The visit is interesting to make because it will make you discover the history of the city from 1870 to 1950. And then, from the roof terrace, you can enjoy a glass of tea with a breathtaking view of the Atlas Mountains.