Marrakech is located in the southern part of Morocco, close to the foot of the Atlas Mountains. It is the fourth biggest city and one of the most famous imperial cities in Morocco. Nowadays, it's also the most popular and favored tourist city in Morocco.
Various elements are included in this historical city enveloped by red — an artisanal heritage, faith, culture, lively souks, natural excursions, hot spots for social media, and even a fashion memorial for YSL. Below, we have listed the top 11 things to do.
1.Bahia Palace (Palais de la Bahia)
This Moroccan palace combines the Islamic, Berber, and Andalusian styles. It was built at the end of the 19th century and owned by Si Moussa, the chancellor of Sultan Hassan I, before being expanded and beautified by his son, Abu 'Bou' Ahmed, in 1894 for his four wives and 24 concubines.
In 2018, it was restored to its prior splendor and now people can admire the spectacular craftsmanship of its elaborate marquetry, sculptures, and painted wooden ceilings at both the petit riad and grand riad. Furthermore, the grand courtyard, which is 1,500 square meters in size, is paved with Italian Carrara marble and is an undeniable highlight of the palace.
2.Medina and Souks (Old City and Markets)
The Medina of Marrakech is the most praised one in Morocco. It is surrounded by the old amber city wall that is over 10 kilometers long and the ancient constructions and relics are mostly preserved inside its boundary. Traditional dwellings and Arabic souks are still there, all contributing to the Medina being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The animated souks (outdoor markets) in the Medina are not to be missed. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere as you listen to the bargaining voices and are dazzled by the wide range of goods while you hunt for souvenirs. Living like a Moroccan really seems that simple. There are more than 2,600 craftsmen or retailers for leather products, carpets, silverware, copperware, crockery, and jewelry.
3.Jemaa El-Fna Public Plaza
Located in the southwest of Medina, Jemaa el-Fna is the most famous public plaza in Morocco. It's listed as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Site.
After 8am every day, the stall keepers start to sell orange juice, spices, traditional medicines, mint leaves, and snails. Gradually, you will sense the delicious smell of barbecues. Snake charmers and monkey trainers try to get the attention of onlookers and tooth pullers are always ready to practice their old skills. Starting from sunset, Berber musicians, Gnaoua dancers, acrobats, and slapstick comedians will perform to the crowds.
Choosing a café up in one of the higher buildings around the plaza and enjoying the sunset, overlooking the bustling square with its changing shadows and colors can create an unforgettable picture in your mind.
4.The Majorelle Garden
Marrakech is also called the garden city and the pearl of the south because of its renowned gardens. The Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), a botanical and artist's landscape garden, is the most distinguished one and also a favored spot for Instagram fans.
It originally took 40 years for the French artist Jacques Majorelle to create it and it became even more glorious after it was restored and expanded by Yves Saint Laurent, who kept it open to the public. It contains more than 300 plant species from around the world and looks like a mirage that has become a reality, making it a clever escape from the desert climate.
Centrally located, the Majorelle Garden's blue art deco studio also includes the Berber Museum, which displays 600 artifacts. And yes, this is the blue that fills your screen when google the pictures of Jardin Majorelle. The Yves Saint Laurent Museum nearby is a bonus where you can broaden your knowledge.
5.El Badi Palace (Palais el-Badi)
To celebrate the triumph of defeating the Portuguese during Bataille des Trois Rois (the Battle of the Three Kings), El Badi Palace was built in 1578. Mostly Islamic in style, influenced by the Alhambra of Granada, this palace was stated to be the most beautiful palace in the world. It used to include a courtyard (135 meters x 110 meters) and a pool (90 meters x 20 meters).
Unfortunately, Sultan Moulay Ismail dismantled the richest parts of this palace in 1696 to build the palace in Meknes. Now, only ruins remain that try to tell its glorious story, covering a large amount of land. The prison cells there are the most interesting part.
6.The Saadian Tombs
In the southeast of El Badi Palace are the Saadian Tombs. This imperial tomb site can be traced back to the end of the 16th century but it wasn't discovered until 1917. More than 60 royal members of Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour's ruling period rest there in peace.
It's combined with three chambers. The one with 12 colonnades, where Ahmed Al Mansour rests, is the most splendid with Italian Carrara marble, gilded honeycomb made of pure gold, and a carved cedarwood dome. It's popular because of its beautiful decorations.
7.The Miara Cemetery
The Miara Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco and the first one in the city. It's located in the Mellah where the Jewish community is. There were up to 31,000 residents in the Mellah once but now only 2,000 Jews live in Marrakech. The Miara Cemetery is still in use and is maintained properly. Only Jews are allowed to use this cemetery and men, women, and children are buried separately according to the Jewish faith.
The Miara Cemetery can be dated back to the 16th century so you can see tombstones that give clues of being from different periods. For example, some of the tombstones were built with scripts carved in Hebrew, some of them are decorated with candle holders, and some of them were used by the Sephardic Jews from Andalusia during the Spanish Inquisition.
8.The Koutoubia Mosque
The Koutoubia Mosque is the landmark of Marrakech as its minaret is the highest structure in the city and it's also one of the most beautiful mosques in North Africa. Local law forbids any new construction to be higher than its minaret to protect the incredible view of it.
The 77-meter-high minaret was built in the 12th century but its gleaming brass spire still shines all year round, thanks to the old Moroccan technique used — every year the balls on the spire are filled with mineral salt from the Atlas Mountains to prevent oxidization.
9.Bab Agnaou City Gate
This is another satisfying area to take photographs in Marrakech. It's one of the 19 gates of the ancient city wall and was used as the royal entrance to the Royal Kasbah neighborhood. This is why it's finely decorated in a Moroccan style, with alternating sections of stones, bricks, and floral decorations, and is called the most beautiful gate in Marrakech.
It's close to the Saadian Tombs, the Kasbah Mosque, and El Badi Palace but many people don't notice it while sightseeing so please be sure to find the front side of it. You may find it looks familiar because of the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alfred Hitchcock, but it's actually more beautiful than the one used in the movie.
10.Setti Fatma Village
If you can spare one extra day for an outdoor excursion, Setti Fatma, which is about 1 hour's drive from Marrakech, is the best choice. It's a small village in a valley beneath the Atlas Mountains. A restaurant with a river view is available there for lunch and there is also easy access to trails leading to seven waterfalls.
They're called seven waterfalls because the main waterfall meanders from the top and is separated by the rocks. After crossing over several man-made wooden bridges and passing by some simple shops, you will reach the top, which offers the best view and a natural pool. You may want to take a swimsuit with you.
11.Peak Toubkal — the Highest of the Atlas Mountains
It takes about 2 to 3 days to hike up this peak, which is the highest in the Atlas Mountains and North Africa, at 4,167 meters (13,671 feet). It's about 63 kilometers from Marrakech and is very close to a small Berber village called Aroumd.
Doing about 6 hours of hiking per day and stopping over at the base camp on the mountains may be a tough experience for many but when you visit the Berber villages and witness their authentic lifestyle on the way, then reach the top and enjoy the incredible views of rural and wild Morocco, all the time and effort will be well spent.
Further Reading: Tanneries and Global Highlights' Service
Morocco is also well-known for its leather products so you may find information about the tanneries in Marrakech along with information about some of the scams.
The most recommended tannery is actually in Fez, called Chouara Tannery. Please check out more information about it in our article Top 9 Things to Do in Fez.
If you don't have enough time during this trip to cover Fez but still prefer to see a traditional tannery, contact us. Global Highlights aims to provide you with exclusive and worry-free travel experiences around the world.
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