Today I'm sharing the top eight sights that I've visited in Marrakesh, one of the four imperial cities in Morocco. It is known as the City of Gardens or the Red City.
- Marrakesh is located 327 km (203 miles) south west of the Moroccan capital of Rabat.
- Marrakesh was founded in 1062.
- The Medina of Marrakesh is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- The population of Marrakesh is about one million.
- Marrakesh main colour is red sandstone or terracotta. Buildings are not allowed to be taller than the mosque in Marrakesh.
TOP EIGHT SIGHTS IN MARRAKESH (Click to enlarge the pictures):
1. Koutoubia Mosque: Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in the city. It is made of red stone and brick and measures 80 metres (260 ft) long and 60 metres (200 ft) wide. The minaret is constructed from sandstone and stands 77 metres (253 ft) high. The spire atop the minaret is decorated with gilded copper balls that decrease in size towards the top, a style unique to Morocco.
|View of Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakesh, Morocco|
Koutoubia Mosque has inspired other buildings such as the Giralda of Seville in Spain (photo #14 in my Seville post), and the Hassan Tower of Rabat (#3 in my Rabat post).
|Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakesh, Morocco|
2. Saadian Tombs: Saadian Tombs were built in the 16th century as a mausoleum and final resting place for numerous Saadian sultans. The building has three rooms that contain the graves of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty. The main room displays fine Islamic architecture with marble columns, mosaic tile work, floral motifs, calligraphy, cedar wood carving, and stucco.
|Saadian Tombs, Marrakesh, Morocco|
Outside the building are unnamed graves of soldiers and servants and a garden with orange trees.
|Soldiers and servants' graves at Saadian Tombs|
3. The Bahia Palace: The Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century by the Grand Vizier of Marrakesh, Bou Ahmed. Bahia means brilliance.
|The Bahia Palace, Marrakesh, Morocco|
The palace took seven years to build, with hundreds of craftsmen from Fez working on its wood, carved stucco, and mosaic tile. It is a stunning palace that can easily take hours to see all the details.
|A ceiling in the Bahia Palace, Marrakesh, Morocco|
The rooms in the Bahia Palace were designed to capture the essence of Islamic and Moroccan architectural styles. They open to courtyards such as the one in the photo below.
|Back courtyard in the Bahia Palace, Marrakesh|
4. The Medina of Marrakesh: The Medina of Marrakesh, a World Heritage site, is a labyrinth of small streets and alleyways leading to schools, mosques, souks, and houses. It is protected by the ramparts of Marrakesh, which stretch for some 19 kilometres (12 miles) around the medina of the city.
Built by the Almoravids in the 12th century, the walls are made of a distinct orange-red clay and chalk, giving the city its nickname as the "red city". They stand up to 5.8 meters (19 feet) high and have 20 gates and 200 towers along them. One of the gates is Bab Agnaou Gate. It's now a passage connecting both the medieval and modern parts of Marrakesh.
|Bab Agnaou Gate, Marrakesh|
5. Jemaa el-Fnaa (or La Place in French): This is one of the best-known squares in Africa. It's a place where there is something to see and do from morning to night. By day, the square buzzes with snake charmers, henna-tattoo artists, and various other entertainers. At night, there are countless food stalls selling traditional dishes and fresh orange juice. It's a busy place so be vigilant of your belongings and surroundings.
|Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakesh, Morocco|
6. The Souks (or Local Markets): Marrakesh boasts a full medina with traditional winding souks and countless treasures. Whether you're looking for food, cooking ingredients, household supplies, lamps, carpets, handicrafts, or literature, there's a street and alleyway for everything. Visitors can get lost for hours in the labyrinth of captivating streets.
|Items for sale, Marrakesh, Morocco|
|Dried herbs and spices, Marrakesh, Morocco|
|Items for sale, Marrakesh, Morocco|
|Hand painted ceramics, Marrakesh, Morocco|
|Lamps, Marrakesh, Morocco|
7. Jardin Majorelle: The Jardin Majorelle (or Majorelle Garden) is a beautiful oasis in a bustling city. It was the creation of French painter Jacques Majorelle, who spent forty years injecting his passion and creativity into this magical garden. He painted the garden walls, fountains, features and villa in a fresh and intense blue colour, for which he trademarked the name Majorelle Blue.
Famed designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought Jardin Majorelle in 1980 and restored it. They transformed Majorelle's studio into a museum open to the public, and dedicated to Berber culture. It's now called the Museum of Islamic Art.
|Museum of Islamic Art|
|Fountain in Jardin Majorelle|
Similar to the Bahia Palace, visitors can easily spend a few hours at the Jardin Majorelle to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity, as well as visit the Berber museum, and the Yves Saint Laurent boutique that are located in the garden. I've taken many photos in the garden that deserves a blog post on its own.
8. Ville Nouvelle: Outside the ancient walls of the Medina of Marrakesh is the newer part of the city. There are gardens, villas, museums, and shopping centres to explore. The sidewalks are clean and I like the green palm trees that line the main avenues and the red sandstone walls.
During my stay in Marrakesh, I met four American travellers from New York. We shared a horse carriage ride from Marrakesh main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, to Ville Nouvelle area.
It's easy to find a horse carriage from the square and negotiate the price, just like you would with a taxi. As the horse owner and I conversed in French, he told me that he owned four horses, two of them work the morning shift, and the other two work the afternoon shift.
|Horse carriage ride in Marrakesh|
|Ville Nouvelle, Marrakesh|
Marrakesh is a very captivating city with its ancient history and architecture. The souks alone offer incredible sights, sounds, smells, and textures. The Ville Nouvelle area seems to have more European presence than Fez, likely due to a large number of French people who have bought properties in the city.
I would have liked to stay longer to explore more sights and the museums in Marrakesh. However, it's time to move on to Casablanca, my last stop in Morocco before heading home. It's been so awesome to visit Rabat, Volubilis, Fez and Marrakesh up to this point on my trip.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments.