Marrakesh

Region: Marrakesh – Tensift – al Haouz
Population: 900,000

 

An ancient Arabic poet called Marrakesh “the red pearl, thrown over the Atlas mountains”- and as the supposedly most beautiful city of Morocco, she really deserves that name. Her designation was even used to name the country, when the Arabic word for “city” - which is “Mraksch” - was not only converted into “Marrakesh” – meaning “city of all cities”, but also used as the denomination of the whole kingdom from north to south. Above all, Marrakesh counts as the most exciting among the four Cities of Kings and boasts being a new and trendy jet set-destination. In 2001, the world climate conference took place in Marrakesh, and the highest number of construction sites is to be found here as well, next to constant restoration and repair works. The town takes advantage of that, as new innovative compositions evolve, but the basic structures of buildings remain conserved and protected.

Whereas Fez is sometimes called the “blue” city, Marrakesh would be the “red” one, and whoever comes close to the heart of it, will see why: All houses are painted in red, pink and ocher. Marrakesh is the metropolis of the Amazigh people and as a former Sultan’s city and capital of Morocco, it is located in the middle of the fertile Houz Plain, founded as the first city of the Amazigh in the 11th century. Today, the “red one” is the third largest city in the country, with an official population of approx. 1 Mio and an unofficial one of 3 or even 4 Mio inhabitants. The city became rather early the center of merchandise and crafts in the south of Morocco, in addition to being the major traffic hub of the region and the administrative core. Today, tourism holds the biggest share of all, with luxury hotels, elegant guest houses and renovated riads (traditional Moroccan houses or former palaces with vegetated courtyards) attracting international clientele from all over the world. The Medina of Marrakesh has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985, and with its numerous historical highlights, cultural sights and oriental flair, it spellbinds each and every visitor. The complex souk system and the ample main square combined cover an area of 650 ha, which is the largest Medina in all of Morocco, including 129 mosques where believers regularly assemble for their Friday prayers.

The main attraction is the Jemaa el Fna in the heart of the Medina, boasting a vibrant mixture of story and fortune tellers, snake charmers, jugglers, henna tattooists and bustling life at its peak each afternoon. There is no other place in Morocco to feel the country’s pulse and authenticity as closely as on the Jemaa el Fna. Visitors and tourists alike can often be seen taking a popular carriage ride along the city walls – especially in the late afternoon, when the reddish walls seem to glow in the sinking sun, it provides breathtaking views of this unforgettable metropolis. The secret highlights are the old city gates which could partially be preserved in their old shape and with their original alleyways.