Marrakech: The Pink City; An 11th century city of exotic mystery, one of the Imperial Cities of Morocco, and an almost sensory overflow of sights, smells, sounds, atmosphere and personality.
While there are 3 distinct areas that compose the city (the medina, Gueliz (ville nouvelle) and the Palmeraie), the medina boasts the bulk of the city’s charm, culture and historical sites. It is the ancient, walled-in portion of the city that was constructed in 1062AD as a trading stronghold along the caravan routes from Timbuktu and other trading centres. The medina is a labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone alleyways that contains the souks (markets), riads (guesthouses) and many of the city’scultural points of interest. To enjoy the “true” Marrakech, it is recommended to by-pass the large, chain-hotels and instead, stay in a lush and peaceful riad, soak up the atmosphere, sip mint tea and enjoy the personalized service, treatment and culinary delights that only a small, boutique-style accommodation can provide. Here is a small list of sites and things to do and see while exploring this fantastic and fabled city:
Jemaa el Fna – The large, open-air market that remains the beating heart and landmark of the city. “La Place”, as it’s called by locals, has a real carnival feel to it. By day one will find snake charmers, vendors, orange juice carts, henna ladies and see the colourfully-dressed, traditional water sellers wandering about. By night, the area is taken over by local food-stalls filling the air with smoke and food smells. Acrobats and storytellers draw crowds around them with their entertaining twirls and jumps and tales of mystery and intrigue of times gone by. La Place is surrounded on all sides by vendors and terraced cafes where one can find affordable meals, great views, or a simple cup of coffee while they gaze out over the seeming circus that stretches out before them. The Jemaa el Fna is not to be missed and that would be difficult to do, as if one wanders about long enough, all routes in the medina eventually lead back here.