Marrakech Journals

Bill in Morocco - MARRAKESH

Best of IgoUgo

A November 2002 trip to Marrakech by billmoy

Djemaa el Fna/Jamma el-Fnaa Photo, Marrakech, Morocco More Photos
Quote: Marrakesh (also spelled "Marrakech") has been described as a "circus in the desert". While the medina of Rabat may be too tame and that of Fes is very frenetic, the medina of Marrakesh seems to feel "just right".

Bill in Morocco - MARRAKESH

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Market in Marrakesh Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
Old city walls and gates surround the old city medina. Here you will find the exotic souks (markets), tanneries and the famous plaza called Place Djemaa al-Fna. To the west is the Gueliz, another name for the new town or Ville Nouvelle. There are plenty of wide boulevards, grand hotels and business and convention facilities here. If you enjoyed my writings about MARRAKESH, read my other sections on RABAT and FEZ (FES).Quick Tips: The main tourism office is located in the Gueliz on Avenue Mohammed V near Rue de la Liberte. You can arrange for an official tour guide here if you really are looking for one. There is also a small tourism booth in the medina, located just south of the Koutoub...Read More

Sheraton Marrakesh

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Sheraton Marrakesh Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This deluxe international property of the Sheraton chain is located in the Ville Nouvelle. While it is not the most convenient location for travelers, it is a healthy walk or short taxi ride to the medina, the Menara pavilion, and the train and bus stations. In fact, its location is probably a plus for the businessperson who may be going to the nearby Congress Center. The hotel, with 287 rooms, debuted in 1969 and was renovated in 1993. The Sheraton is like a modern version of a walled city, as you enter and exit past patrolled gateways. The complimentary parking lot fronts the property. The lobby is vast and comfortably swanky, with quaint paintings depicting scenes from the colorful Place Djem...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

Sheraton Marrakesh
Avenue de la Menara at Avenue de France
Marrakesh, Morocco
(212) 44-448998

La Mamounia

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

La Mamounia Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This famous hotel, a member of the prestigious "Leading Hotels of the World", is regarded as the finest property to stay in Marrakesh. Located within the burnt orange walls of the medina, it is a refuge for the rich and famous. The reason for our visit was not to stay here (as it is well out of our modest price range), but to see the highly regarded gardens. The security at the hotel is very tight, as a burly guard at the main entrance asked if we were guests. When we said "no", he pointed us to the concierge desk, where the helpful gentleman said we could take a discreet look at the gardens at no cost. We could take photos, but not if we spotted anyone important or famous. Also, no camcorders ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

La Mamounia
Avenue Bab Jdid
Marrakech 40040
(212) 524 388 600

Chez Chegrouni Cafe Restaurant

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Chez Chegrouni Cafe Restaurant Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This simply decorated local restaurant is located at the northeastern fringe of the Place Djemaa al-Fna, adjacent to the active Qessabin Mosque. It has plenty of simple seating inside, but the prized seats are the two rows of tables fronting the restaurant (not raised on a rooftop). These seats are like opera boxes, as you can do lots of people watching here. Since you are not in the middle of the frenzy, you will not get pestered much by the locals. You may get better views of the square at other establishments, but it will be hard to beat the prices and the hearty cuisine served at this place. There are no set menu meals, but the prices are so reasonable that it will be hard to get a bill over...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 22, 2002

Chez Chegrouni Cafe Restaurant
NE corner of Place Djemaa al-Fna
Marrakesh, Morocco
0

Bakeries

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Bakeries in Marrakesh"

Quote:
Here are a couple of the most notable patisseries conveniently located in Marrakesh: Patisserie des Princes, 32 Rue de Bab Agnaou This glamorous looking bakery is located on a popular pedestrian street just south of the Place Djemaa al-Fna. The front display window lures you in, and there are heaps and trays of goodies behind glass displays to tantalize you. Like most of the pastry shops in Morocco, this one sells many items that are similar to the definitive prototypes sold in France. The tastes of the treats I ordered did not quite match their visual appeal. I tried something that looked like an almond-coated crepe with some sort of sweet paste wrapped inside. My fri...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 26, 2002

Bakeries
Throughout Marrakesh
Marrakesh, Morocco

Djemaa el Fna/Jamma el-Fnaa

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Place Djemaa al-Fna"

Djemaa el Fna/Jamma el-Fnaa Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This is the famous main square in the heart of Marrakesh's old city that is a gathering place for locals and travelers both day and night. The name translates as the "Assembly of the Dead", harking back to a time when sultans displayed the bodies of executed prisoners here. Nowadays the square is filled with vendors selling all sorts of food and drinks, and assorted locals trying to be subject matter for your photographs (for a price, of course). My nickname for the square is "the freak show". I say this in an endearing manner, for it is charming to see snake charmers, monkey handlers, and jugglers, comedians, musicians, as well as would-be doctors, dentists, preachers. These gatherings are not just a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

Djemaa el Fna/Jamma el-Fnaa
Medina Quarter
Marrakesh, Morocco

Menara Gardens and Pavilion

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Menara Gardens and Pavilion Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
About a mile west of the Gueliz area is the famous Menara pavilion, called the "minzah". The walk or drive there is pleasant enough, as you will pass groves of olive trees that make up the Menara Gardens. These groves were originally laid out centuries ago, and to this day underground canals innovatively irrigate them. The postcard view of the central pavilion faces north upon a vast rectangular reflecting basin that contains rather brownish water. Walking along its north edge, you may get some nice photos of the pavilion fronted by the pool and backed by the High Atlas Mountains. Alas, the north facade of the minzah is not hit by sunlight in Marrakesh, as discriminating photographers may notice...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 22, 2002

Menara Gardens and Pavilion
Avenue de la Menara
Marrakesh, Morocco

City Walls and Gates

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

City Walls and Gates Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
The trademark color of Marrakesh seems to be this bright burnt or reddish orange that permeates so many structures of the city. Marrakesh is sometimes referred to as the "Red City" because of this dominant hue. This color is most prominent on the old city walls and gates that ring the old city medina. The entire circumference of the walls is about 16 kilometers. There are 20 gates and about 200 towers. One can encounter these massive walls during any visit in the medina. You can take a tour of the ramparts by following the appropriately named Route des Remparts, which rings the northern half of the walls. Boulevard el-Yarmouk lines the southwestern portion of the walls. If you are comi...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 22, 2002

City Walls and Gates
Around Marrakesh Medina
Marrakesh, Morocco

Koutobia Mosque and Minaret

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Koutobia Mosque and Minaret Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
The Koutoubia Mosque of the 12th Century is perhaps most noted for its famous minaret, which towers to a height of nearly 230 feet (it is today still taller than any building in Marrakesh). It is one of the "big three" of landmark minarets built by the Almohads; the others are the great Giralda in Sevilla, Spain and the incomplete one of the Hassan II Mosque in Rabat. The attractive design of the minaret, topped by three golden spheres, is still seen as a prototype of Islamic architecture. The exterior features the reddish orange color that is found all over Marrakesh. The minaret was built from 1150 to 1190, and is still in good condition after a bit of recent restoration. The tower, which is 4...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

Koutobia Mosque and Minaret
near Avenue Mohammed V in the medina
Marrakesh, Morocco

Medersa Ben Youssef

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Medersa Ben Youssef Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This wonderful old school is the preeminent medersa (or "madrasa") in Marrakesh. It was constructed for Sultan Moulay Abdullah el-Ghalib of the Saadians in 1565 and is adjacent to the older mosque with the same name. This was the largest Koranic school in the Maghreb with a capacity of several hundred teachers and students in its heyday, and was finally closed in 1960. Now it has been remodeled and opened for viewing to appreciative visitors. After you pay your entrance fee (20 dirham as of November 2002) and get a nice color pamphlet (in French), you walk down a corridor before you encounter the various spaces of the inner court. You may meet a guide, but you can shake him off easily. The compl...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

Medersa Ben Youssef
Place Ben Youssef
Marrakesh, Morocco
(044) 39 09 11

Musee de Marrakech (Marrakech Museum)

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Museum of Marrakesh"

Quote:
This fine museum is a fairly new addition to the Marrakesh tourism scene, as it was carved out of a beautiful late 19th Century palace (Dar Mnebhi) and recycled as a museum in 1997. The building interiors are more of an attraction than the exhibits, though they are modestly interesting in their own right. The main courtyard is gorgeous, with a gurgling fountain in the center; several tiled fountains, large colorful doorways, and finely crafted details everywhere. The formerly exposed courtyard is now glassed over, with a massive golden chandelier looming over the fountain. In a sense, the palace itself is the main art object on display. The lovingly restored interiors are colorful, but the ligh...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

Musee de Marrakech (Marrakech Museum)
Place Ben Youssef
Marrakesh, Morocco
212 24 44 18 93

El Badi Palace

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Palais el-Badi"

El Badi Palace Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
For the unsuspecting visitor, a visit to the Palais el-Badi is an unexpected treat. Walk down a high-walled corridor to a small ticket booth. After purchasing your ticket (still only 10 dirham, about 1 US dollar, as of November 2002), you may encounter a guide. After we flatly turned him down, he sternly stated that we should not try to tag along with another group that he may be leading later. That was fine with us, as we wanted to wander the cavernous spaces on our own. Palais el-Badi was constructed between 1578 and 1602 as a grand palace for Ahmed al-Mansour. It is said that Moulay Idriss diabolically had the rich materials stripped from the palace for implementation at his own palace in Mek...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

El Badi Palace
Place Des Ferblantiers
Marrakesh, Morocco

Saadian Tombs

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Tombs of the Saadis"

Saadian Tombs Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This royal necropolis of the 16th and 17th Centuries was modeled after the famous Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour is buried here along with his successors and closest family members, within two main structures. Moulay Ismail had the tombs sealed off in a power play years later, and they were not rediscovered until 1917 by a team of French surveyors. You may spot the minaret of the Kasbah Mosque, which was the personal mosque of the Sultan. The minaret, located at the northwest corner of the mosque, is plastered orange and features some nice tilework. It may be seen as a stylistic cousin to the great Koutoubia minaret. The path to the tombs is a mysterious, dark an...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2002

Saadian Tombs
Next To Kasbah Mosque, Off Rue De La Kasbah
Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh Express (Part 1)

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Marrakesh Express (Part 1) Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
My friend and I bought tickets for the night train from Fes (Fez) to Marrakesh. It was supposed to be a 9-hour ride. NINE HOURS on the so-called "Marrakesh Express". HOUR ZERO....It was raining in Fes at night, so we were looking forward to a nice dry train compartment and hopefully sunnier skies in Marrakesh. The train departed on time at 8pm. Curiously enough, no couchettes are sold for this night train, so we were hoping to get as much rest as possible in seats. We had bought first-class tickets, which were only nominally more expensive than the second-class seats. Our six-seat compartment was cozy enough, and it felt even better because we had it all to ourselves. HOUR 1....We hear...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 26, 2002

Marrakesh Express (Part 1)
Marrakesh Express
Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh Express (Part 1)

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Marrakesh Express (Part 2)"

Marrakesh Express (Part 1) Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
(Continued from Part 1) HOUR 10....It was nearly 6am, and we were dumbfounded when we realized that we were in Casablanca, not Marrakesh. This train should have arrived into the Casablanca Voyaguers station about 5 hours earlier! This station was supposed to be the midpoint of our train ride, but it became the unexpected finish. The conductor told us in French that there was some sort of flooding, so the train could not move past Casablanca. So all the sleepy and grouchy passengers crammed into the main vestibule of the train station. We saw swarms of Moroccan men (there were few women and non-Moroccans on the train) demanding ticket refunds from the beleaguered ticket counter attendants on the ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 26, 2002

Marrakesh Express (Part 1)
Marrakesh Express
Marrakesh, Morocco

Marrakesh Express (Part 1)

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Marrakesh Express (Part 3)"

Marrakesh Express (Part 1) Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
(Continued from Part 2) HOUR 12....As the sun rose, it cast its light upon many roads that were inundated by floodwater from the last few days. The natives were restless, doubly so because of the Ramadan fast during the daylight hours. My friend and I were appreciative of the bright sun, as it had been rainy throughout much of our time so far in Morocco. The crowd were not as appreciative, as they pointed at the curtains and wanted them drawn shut. HOUR 15....As the morning dragged on, it was not really surprising to find out that our third-rate bus had a flat tire. This unscheduled pit stop allowed me to have a few refreshing slurps of water and some precious bites of candy while hid...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 26, 2002

Marrakesh Express (Part 1)
Marrakesh Express
Marrakesh, Morocco