Definitely on my travel wish list for 2013
TOP 4 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN MARRAKECH
DECEMBER 12, 2012 2
Marrakech is a city full of contrast. Outside the medina walls, lavish resorts jockey for position on the cracked desert earth. While inside the ancient, dusty medina, the daily bustle of life goes on as it has for centuries. You could easily spend days exploring the souks or just relaxing in your holiday oasis. However, if you are interested in taking a deeper look into the city’s history and culture, then these four attractions should not be missed.
Djemaa el-Fna Square is like a vaudeville show that never got canceled. Instead, the square has thrived for more than 800 years, drawing more and more people every year.
There is a rhythm to this concrete carnival that moves to the soundtrack of schizophrenic flutes, drumming and cymbals crashing. Daytime at Djemaa el-Fna is full of juice peddlers, snake charmers, men with chained Barbary Apes (small monkeys) and water sellers donning traditional costumes with leather water bags and shaking brass cups. As the afternoon grows late, the crowds grow heavier and the viper-armed snake charmers and monkey men retreat, giving way to magicians, spice merchants, storytellers and musicians. At dusk a gypsy-style procession of wooden-wheeled food carriages are rolled into the square.
Just remember: You will get hassled. You will end up with a creature on you. And you will smile. Of all the things to do in Marrakech, Djemaa el-Fna should be at the top of your list.
Like a landlocked lighthouse, the mosque’s iconic Moorish minaret stands tall over the one and two story red washed buildings of the medina. Its light comes not from a glowing bulb, but from the five daily prayers that are projected live through the minaret’s speakers.
The mosque and minaret date back to the 12th century and are the city’s best example of structures from the Almohad Period. While the mosque is closed to non-muslims, the gardens and courtyard are open to the public. Standing outside of the red stone structure as the call to prayer sings out over the bustling medina is a pretty amazing experience.
Aside from our Riad, the garden at Jardin Majorelle was the most peaceful place we visited in Marrakech. Once the former residence of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, this lush desert garden explodes with vibrant colors and life. The 12-acre botanical garden contains more than 300 plant species and is frequented by more than a dozen bird species indigenous to North Africa, including the African Songbird.
Strolling through the garden reveals large fountains, ponds, statutes and even Laurent’s memorial site. The designer’s ashes were spread here following his death in 2008. The Majorelle Garden rests in tranquil juxtaposition to Djemaa el-Fna and it is a perfect location for anyone seeking a little reprieve from the sporadic medina streets.
El Badi Palace
Built in the 16th century, the Badi Palace stands a bit naked these days. Stripped and looted 75 years after it was built, the palace, despite its starkness, still reeks of the awe it once commanded. The palace, which took 25 years to complete, was commissioned by the Saadian Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1578. Plan on spending an hour strolling the grounds and exploring the terrace and underground portions of the palace.