Some people will tell you there’s not much to do in Marrakech and you can get bored quickly. The first part may be true: you do not have dozens of places to visit. The second is completely false: try to walk between them, get lost through the squares, observing the city’s own life and the differences from one street to the other, from the old center to the new part of town.
But I’m not going to talk to you about how fascinated the atmosphere, the people, the culture and the colors, I will stay strictly on the subject. Write down! ?
Classic tour of the most important places
A classic tour, the one I’ve bought, includes four objectives and takes four hours. It’s for people who need a fixed schedule, maybe a minibus and some organization and a minimal guidance. I paid eight euros and included:
I got here early in the morning when they say it is the most beautiful to see. Majorelle is famous and everyone wants to see it because the vegetation is lush and because it offers coolness on a warm summer day. The gardens were the propriety of a French painter, Jacques Majorelle. Even though the paintings are not famous, the garden he created is – even the intense blue used for the buildings there was named after him, Majorelle blue.
At some time after the painter’s death, the garden was opened to the public (in 1947). In 1980, it came into Yves Saint-Laurent’s property – you have certainly heard about him, especially if you are into the world of fashion. He loved this place so much that he had the will to have his ash scattered in his beloved garden. Among the tall palm trees, you will find the memorial dedicated to him.
I noticed with sadness that not all the garden is open to the public. But I was pleased with what I saw: the red alleys make an exceptional contrast with all the vegetation of raw green to brown-green. Cactus impressed me because in my life I have never seen so tall as a tree. As you can see, I did not like the world in the pictures … And I loved the bamboo though I did not think I would meet them in Morocco!
Within the gardens, there is also the Berber Museum, housed in an oriental building (formerly Jacques Majorelle’s studio), painted in the famous blue color. Here, tourists get information about the indigenous tribes of North Africa, from ancient times to the present, by some defining objects: jewels, weapons, leather objects, baskets – all gathered or discovered from the Rif Mountains to the depths of the Sahara. The exhibition also features an interactive section of photographs, movies and audio recordings that help the visitor to better know the Berber world of Morocco.
And you can also find a museum boutique with handmade artwork in another smaller building. A silver bracelet is 280 euros.
- Minimum visit time: 40 min
- Prices: Majorelle Gardens: 7 euros (70 dinars)/ Berber Museum: 3 euro (30 dinars)
Bab Debbagh Tannerie
Do you know about the famous and beautifully colored pools in the photos? It is part of leather natural processing. As we were in an organized group, a guide waited for us at the gate with mint twigs for everyone. Not for eating but keep it well in the nose during the visit, which he promised that would be short. We passed the gate and walked through the very narrow streets of a small neighborhood. The craftsmen live right here and apparently do not even feel the smell that gets more and more pungent. Left-right-right-left and I came near a pile of goat hair that will be processed for isolation of the tents in the desert. Smart, right?
The Moroccans process leather (camel, sheep, goat and cow) and are famous for this. Many people come especially here to buy things because, above all, they are also handmade, which increases their value. The leather is very cheap in the markets!
Then, on our right, there were a few pools of skin in phase 1: put in lime water. Some of the group gave up and left quickly. The smell is horrible but atypical one. I was expecting to smell like rot, but it’s quite different. I forced myself to resist. And without the mint. And I did it.
In front, a few men stood in their feet and moved pieces of leather from one “boiler” to another.
- Minimum planting time: 15 min
- Price: the tip of the guide, 1 euro (10 dinars)
There is an archaeological site discovered in 1917, dating back to the 16th century. It’s hard to tell who was buried there, but it is an attraction due to the great patterns they have on them. These were restored, obviously, by the specialists from the Fine Arts.
Then we have the Mausoleum with 60 graves, which, according to archaeologists, are the only vestiges belonging to the Saadi Dynasty – which led Morocco between 1549 and 1659. The mausoleum has pure oriental decorations, migratory lace and colored mosaics. You will love it!
- Minimum visit time: 20 min
- Price: 1 euro (10 dinars)
Our last objective in the tour remains the most aesthetic and valuable: a 19th century building, built by the Marrakesh Grand Vizier, named Si Ahmed ben Musa. Well, do you guess why he picked up the palace? Hehe … he had four wives and about 25 concubines. Plus the kids!
At that time, being an important man, he wanted to build the most beautiful palace in town. He worked seven years and I dare to say that he succeeded, the building has a rapacious beauty. Islamic style and Moroccan patterns are blended harmoniously, the colors steal you, and the grit is a mosaic with a slight optical illusion. The inner courtyard with the fountain and the gardens are another plus of the palace. I’d stay for a whole day if I could!
- Minimum visit time: one hour
- Price: 1 euro (10 dinars)
Other objectives in Marrakech
Obviously, there are other goals that I briefly remind you and tell you why you should visit them:
The Marrakech Museum
A history of the city seen in a museum full of artifacts, set in a building full of oriental lace in the historic center.
Local markets are filled with things that take your eyes. Today, in Marrakech are 18, with great success. Here you can find from crafts to cosmetics and electronics. These are a kind of Oriental hypermarkets :)) Obviously, you’ll be a little lost. Follow the exit pointers, after you go through all the marker, you’ll get out!
It’s the Jewish market. Here the amber is the cheapest (5 dinars) and the most affordable spices.
El Badi Palace
It was built by Sultan Saudi Ahmad al-Mansur as a triumph after he beat the Portuguese in the battle of the three kings. To show his wealth, the sultan chose marble from Italy and other materials taken from Spain, France and even India! Today it is in ruins, only the outer walls are still remaining. Still beautiful, some festivals in Marrakech are taking place here.
The Koutoubia Tower
You are not allowed to visit the mosque unless you are a Muslim, but it is worth to dedicate some time to admire it in all its splendor. Be near it when adhan begins – the call to prayer! The feeling is priceless!
Ben Youssef Mosque
It is another mosque that I liked a lot from outside. I admired it from the roof of a building on a terrace.
There are some huge gardens to the Atlas Mountains. Menara Gardens were made in the 12th century and I say it’s worth a walk here if you have time.
This hidden jewel is another piece of Moroccan decorative art. This time with tents, special fabrics and artifacts. It is also a museum about Berber life, but it pursues them throughout the Sahara: from Morocco, Argel and Mauritius, to Mali and Burkina Faso. The exhibition is also a trip among tribes, festivals, rituals and crafts specific to each area.
David Bloch Gallery
Fan Street Art? Then it’s a must visit! It’s a new, modern art gallery with good taste.
Grand Casino de la Mamounia
If you feel like you have money and you want to see some opulence, that’s the place!
This article was published also on corinamatei.ro