Marrakech Journals

Mesmerising Marrakech

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A February 2003 trip to Marrakech by SaraP

Djemaa El Fna square Photo, Marrakech, Morocco More Photos
Quote: Marrakech revels in its status as former capital of Morocco, all the charm and history (more Berber than most other north African cities yet curiously European thanks to its Franco-Arabic history) -– palaces, gardens, a lively souk, fine architecture, and most memorable of all the mesmerising Djemaa El Fna.

Mesmerising Marrakech

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Overview

The Marrakech star Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
After Casablanca, it’s Morocco's second largest city and the most important market and administrative region in southern Morocco. More upliftingly, alongside Fes, Marrakech was one of the great imperial capitals of the country's various dynasties, stretching back to medieval times. Marrakech IS Morocco -- a pleasure city with pleasure gardens, great imperial palaces, a buzzing market square which drew traders from far and wide to meet and exchange in commerce, and entertainment. On a good day, the Atlas Mountains rise shimmering in the distance, and the low red buildings are warm and soft in the sun. It’s a city of colour and movement and sound, where there's always something going on – a workma...Read More

Hotel Sherazade

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Hotel

Quote:
A top notch hotel for the price (360-450Dh), it’s well positioned in the medina area, five minutes from the Djemaa. Formerly a riad (probably a merchants’ townhouse), you take breakfast at wrought iron tables in the Moorish courtyard, surrounded by potted palmtrees and flowers and the usual gloriously carved window and door-frames, with vines hanging from the wickerwork "roof" (more for shade than rain, I suspect). Breakfast (agree in advance each day what time you’d like it, varying from about 7:30 to 10am) comprises very good French bread with jams, eggs (sometimes boiled, sometimes scrambled), thin Moroccan pancakes (beghrir), and juice (marks off that it’s squash and not fresh). The rooms a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 12, 2003

Hotel Sherazade
3 Derb Djamaa Riad Zitoun el-Qedim
Marrakesh, Morocco
(212) 4442 93 05

"Chegrouni" Cafe/Restaurant

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Restaurant

Quote:
This is one of several fairly simple restaurants to retire to for a lunchtime tagine or an afternoon apple tea, to rest or to watch the sun go down (or perhaps just to get away from the melee for a little while if it all gets too much). It's on the NE edge of the square and particularly sees quite a lot of coming and going from the Qessabin mosque next door -- in fact, at some times of the day, shortly after the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer ("Allah Akbar"), an eerie silence falls nearby as groups of men armed with prayer mats take up position for the ten minute service. As to the restaurant itself, try to bag yourself of the two rows of tables facing out from the restaurant onto the sq...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 17, 2003

"Chegrouni" Cafe/Restaurant
Djemaa El Fna
Marrakesh, Morocco

Musee de Marrakech (Marrakech Museum)

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Attraction | "Marrakech Museum"

Musee de Marrakech (Marrakech Museum) Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This late-19th century palace, Dar Mnebbi, started out as home to Mehdi Mnebbi, defence minister to Moulay Abdelziz; when he became Moroccan ambassador to London, he sold it to T'hami El Glaoui, Pasha of Marrakesh, and, on 1956 independence, the palace was taken over by the state. It operated as a girls’ school for a while but then, sadly, it was badly neglected until c1995 when a patron of the arts, Omar Benjoullan, acquired it for restoration. In March 1997, to much fanfare, the palace re-opened, this time as the Marrakech Museum. The old kitchen area (douiria) has been transformed and now houses various permanent displays of jewellery, Arabic calligraphy (including several early Korans) a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 12, 2003

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

Dar Si Said Museum

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Attraction | "Dar Si Said (Museum of Moroccan arts)"

Dar Si Said Museum Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
This is both a stunningly beautiful building and also home to very impressive Museum of Moroccan Arts. Through a solid wooden and past the trick office (look opposite to the "notice-board" which will tell you about any temporary exhibits or particular things of interest at that time), you follow a well marked route by signposted cabinets of Berber jewellery and daggers, swords and other weapons, both intricate and deadly in design. The rooms themselves are glorious as well, doors and window-cases in painted cedar wood though sadly there's no photography allowed inside (and you'll find yourself shadowed by an apparently well-meaning chap, who isn't in fact a guide but more a guard). Eventually you'l...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 12, 2003

Dar Si Said Museum
Riad Ez-Zaitoun El Jadid
Marrakesh, Morocco
(212 9) 93 20 97

Maison Tiskiwin

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Attraction

Maison Tiskiwin Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
Slightly off the beaten track (and signposted only when you are upon it look for a yellow sign over an unwelcoming door which looks for all the world like it is firmly closed and locked bang away and someone will eventually come grumbling to let you in) is a well-preserved riad or town-house, dating from the turn of C20 in Spanish-Moroccan style. It’s furnished from the collection of one Dr Bert Flint, a Dutch anthropologist, who has made Marrakech and Agadir his home since the 1950s. On arrival, you’ll be handed a photocopied notebook to accompany your visit and explain what you are looking at. The rooms then take you through the lives and habits of the (mainly) Berber people, travelling al...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 12, 2003

Maison Tiskiwin
8 Rue de la Bahia
Marrakesh, Morocco

Bahia Palace and Gardens

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Attraction | "Palais de la Bahia"

Bahia Palace and Gardens Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
Originally a palace owned by the Grand Vizier, Si Ahmed Ben Moussa (better known as Bou Ahmed, a black slave who clawed his way to hold, in his twilight years, almost autocratic control as Protector for the young sultan, Abd El Aziz). The Palace does not have any exhibitions as such its charm is in the beauty and ornate design of the building Bahia means "brilliance" and some of the workmanship is quite lovely, especially the painted cedar wood ceilings and some stained glass windows (though sadly these rooms are not at all well lit). Beyond the main structure of the building is the harem, with colonnades and terraces, fountains and orange groves. The Bahia seems to a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 12, 2003

Bahia Palace and Gardens
Along Northern Edge Of Mellah
Marrakesh, Morocco 40000
05244 45230

El Badi Palace

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Attraction

El Badi Palace Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
Beyond the ramparts at Bab Agnaou lies this highly underrated ruined palace. It’s well worth a visit being almost deserted (a refreshing change from the heaving crowds at the Saadian necropolis and Palais de la Bahia) and extremely atmospheric (though the peace can be broken somewhat by the erection of scaffolding in the centre--concerts are held here from time to time; the acoustics are good and it must make for a spooky location). Judging by the impressive spread of the ruins, the palace seems to have extended across the whole area east of the Kasbah mosque (which you can see in the distance). It was built by Ahmed Al-Mansour between 1578 and 1602 and called at the time "the Incomparable" (if i...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 12, 2003

El Badi Palace
Place Des Ferblantiers
Marrakesh, Morocco

Saadian Tombs

Attraction

Saadian Tombs Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
The Saadian dynasty, originally from Arabia, succeeded in gaining power in the mid C16 by their popular move to send the Portuguese invaders packing and allying with the Spanish. The Saadians only retained power for one or two generation and, at the same time that their successor, Moulay Ismail, pillaged the Badi palace, he decided to seal up the Saadian Tomb area (superstitious that their spirits would pursue him if he ransacked here too, he satisfied himself with blocking all but an obscure entrance from the kasbah mosque – despite this, it seems a few prominent Marrakechis were buried in the mausoleums up until 1792). The necropolis lay semi-forgotten until early C20 when a French aerial map...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 12, 2003

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

Djemaa El Fna and the Koutoubia Minaret

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Story/Tip

Djemaa El Fna square Photo, Marrakech, Morocco
Quote:
The most in-your-face and memorable place in Marrakech, perhaps in the whole of Morocco, is the Djemaa El Fna, leaping and throbbing with life and movement and music. It draws you in and makes you feel dizzy with its sheer activity and pace. Somewhat schizophrenic, by day, it seems quite an expanse as you sit on a bench in the small park area by the post office or one of the many rooftop terraces at a café with a panoramic view; just a marketplace with a few snake charmers, the odd storyteller or water salesman, perhaps an acrobat or two, plus the permanent feature of the fresh-orange-juice stalls (a refreshing snip at 2.5 dirham – less than 20p/25c). As evening falls, though, it transfo...Read More