Results 11-17of 17 Reviews
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
October 13, 2004
The square has become the heart of Marrakesh. Jerome and Jean Tharaud once said "the soul of the South is here, in the groups of the onlookers who, from morning to night, gather and disperse around the street performers with the fluidity of smoke." At dusk, this square fills with jugglers and story tellers reminiscent of the griots of the Southern Sahara, Berbers who have come down from the mountains, men from the desert and fellahs from the plain deeply engrossed in their songs and dances performed with tame snakes. At this time of day, when the peaks of the distant Atlas Mountains catch the last of the sunlight, the atmosphere is disquieting. This spellbinding spectacle will encourage you to linger on the terraces of the numerous surrounding cafés. In the mornings, this vast square, located on the edge of the souk district and bordered by shops and workshops, is crowded with fruit and spice sellers, guerrab with their leather water bottles and metal drinking cups, basket sellers, ironmongers and barbers. In the afternoons come the Gnaoua dancers descended from former Guinean slaves, musicians, storytellers, snake charmers and entertainers with performing monkeys. Before starting their performance, they establish their halqa (imaginary circle blessed by a saint).
All around the square are tea houses offering mint tea and local sweets, like the filo pastry filled with mixed nuts.
For the adventurous, a favourite amongst the Moroccans is goat's brain, broiled in lamb stock and eaten with your fingers! It's chewy, like gum, and not at all as awful as I'd imagined. Another delicacy here are the local escargots, not the garden variety or the fancy French ones, but simply boiled in salt water and spiced with some herbs. These are tiny snails that are delicate and tender-and the soup is especially delicious, a must-try!
A five-minute walk from the square is Marrakesh's highest minaret from which the muezzin calls for prayer three times a day.
From journal Memories of Marrakesh
August 15, 2004
You can eat at one of the food-stalls. Each has a number so you can remember it next day. There are almost all type of food sellers: sheep heads, kebabs, orange juice, dried fruit sellers.
There are women making henna - don't worry, it will go off in two weeks if you wash as much as me.
There are the dentists, witch doctors to consult your troubles, singers, dancers, magicians, snake charmers and water sellers.
Beware that every photo you make here will cost you bucks. Especially beware the snake charmers who throw the snake on poor tourists and ask for a huge sum to take it back. If you want to eliminate the hassle, go up at one of the cafes around the square to watch the party.
From journal The mysterious city of Morocco
There may be some locals chasing you to hire them at the entrance, but once in the souks, you should be left alone.
There are carpet souks, carpenters, dyers souks, spice souks where you can also see very unusual material which locals still use in witchcraft and mostly illegal in many countries (teeth, and parts of rare animals), babush (colorful slippers) souks can all be visited. You should have the courage to negotiate in souks. Even though I was told to pay half of the first told price, you may get in touch with reasonable sellers sometimes who tell you a good price at once. But once I could not find the appropriate price for a teapot. The prices I was told were mainly European prices. Fortunately, there is a big retailer in Morocco called Marjane, so I have found my teapot against affordable prices. So you can keep it as the last option in case souks are not for you but you’d still like to take something with you of this country.
December 20, 2002
There are two ways to experience the plaza. One is to plunge headfirst into the hustle and the bustle. You can pretend that every local is like a solar eclipse, trying not to look them directly in the eyes or you will be "blinded" by sales pitches. The sights, sounds and smells of the city really surround you here, and it can be a bit disconcerting at the beginning. One of my colleagues mentioned that a snake charmer draped a live snake on her husband, and the charmer would not remove the snake until the couple had paid a fair ransom! All this excitement over a photograph! Carry lots of small change if you want to pay for lots of action shots, or discreetly click away amongst the crowd. If you want to eat in the square, plunk yourself down at one of the open-air food stalls that look appealing to you, although it may be wise to dine here only if you have an iron stomach.
The other way to experience the square is to climb to one of the rooftop decks for some excellent panoramic views. Not only will you get an overall scope of the plaza and its players, but you will see some of the surrounding buildings like the Koutoubia minaret and the silhouettes of the Atlas Mountains. If you have a zoom lens, there are excellent opportunities to capture the scenes below and afar. Some of the rooftop terraces at the Place Djemaa al-Fna are the Cafe Glacier and the Restaurant Argana. The Cafe Glacier has perhaps the best vantage point and the admission is basically the price of a beverage, but they have really dirty plastic chairs.
We traveled through Morocco during Ramadan. One of the most unique experiences was wandering through the Place Djemaa al-Fna as the afternoon was fading into dusk. Locals are quietly seated at the outdoor tables, with bowls of food sitting before them. Remember, these people have not had any food nor drink since before sunrise, and they are all waiting patiently for the official signal. Once it is announced that the daily fasting period is over, the feasting begins.
From journal Bill in Morocco - MARRAKESH
January 22, 2002
From journal Marrakesh: Djellaba and Jeans
by globe trotter
Manchester, United Kingdom
December 4, 2000
I suggest seeing it from 2 angles - firstly down in the thick of it & secondly looking down on it from above from one of the many restaurant terraces that surround it.
It's a great place to take pictures - but expect to tip performers/snake charmers if you take their picture.
If you have the time experience the square both before sunset & after - while it's still light it's good to wander over to Koutoubia mosque & then have a look at all the weird & wonderful food being cooked by skilled chefs on makeshift grills. After dark the fire eaters & other performers seem even more surreal!
Try & hit one of the terraces early - everybody - tourists & locals want a ringside seat at sunset & the terraces get very busy. Get there half an hour before sundown & sip a traditional mint tea - a great soothing contrast to the fray below.
From journal Medinas & Mosques in Morocco
They range from cheap tat through to high end antiques, rugs & furniture.
I would say the first time you go preferably go with a guide so you can get orientated.
Feel free to barter - cash is usually a better bet for bargains than credit cards - although even some of the smallest places accept credit cards.
Also be warned shipping seems to be very expensive & complicated - plan to hand carry your new souvenirs if possible - the souks (& even some of the better shops) don't seem to handle the concept of shipping very well & will instantly put your hard bargained price back up & over if you even suggest it!
Also regarding excess baggage: the Moroccan airlines charge by number of items rather than weight - so if you are taking things back & want to check them in - get the shop to wrap them in one big parcel - we didn't do this & it cost a small fortune - so be warned.