Archive for the ‘Ce qui à voir à Marrakech’ Category

Visiting the tanneries in Marrakech – why you should do it

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The ancient Marrakech tannery where the raw material for fine leather gods is produced is a magnetic draw for tourists because the experience is as fascinating as the smell is pungent.

Some might warn you away from this odiferous quarter of the city but that would be a mistake because, in several respects, the ancient process of producing leather from goatskin and fleeces, having changed little since biblical times, is an absorbing throwback to another era.

Tanners have been around since the city’s founding in 1062 and tanning itself, and the production of leather goods, has remained an important trade ever since. Today, as then, the archaic curing process involves an unpleasant cocktail of elemental liquids (a mix of cow urine, pigeon faeces and acids) in which animal skins are cleaned and cured.

You will see half naked men, standing up to their knees in clay vats filled with this evil smelling mixture, cleaning the fleeces before handing them over to be dyed in different vats filled with other, equally suspicious looking multi-coloured liquids. After this the coloured fleeces are set out to dry in the sun.

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The Saadian Tombs in Marrakech

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

If you’re looking to absorb some history on your visit to Marrakech, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions is the Saadian Tombs, the final resting place of the rulers and other members of the Saadi Dynasty, one of the best examples of Islamic art in Morocco.

The first known burial took place following the reign of Sultan Ahmed el Mansour (1578-1603), sixth sultan of the Saadi Dynasty which held sway from the mid-sixteenth to the late seventeenth century.

When Moulay Ismail (1672-1727) came to power he sealed off the tombs in an effort to remove all trace of his predecessors. They only came to light again in 1917 upon their rediscovery by the French following an aerial survey.

Because the tombs had been sealed for so many years they were found to be in a state of near-immaculate preservation and the Moroccan Beaux-Arts service has since restored the site itself to its original splendour.

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Marrakech to Essaouira: a day trip

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

If you’re visiting Marrakech for long enough to afford taking a day out of town, the ancient port of Mogador, the modern day Essaouira, is well worth the two and a half hour trip.

A small, picturesque seaport with a shipyard and important fishing fleet, Essaouira is unlike almost any other town in Morocco due largely to the fact that it was developed originally by the Portuguese, a heritage accounting for much of its character and charm. The walled town stands on a narrow peninsula sheltering a vast bay and crescent of fine sand.

A Unesco World Heritage Site, it is a fascinating example of 18th century European military architecture, notably its sea defences, constructed by the French and equipped with an impressive row of Spanish canons. From this fortified Scala there is a splendid outlook over the sea and Atlantic rollers crashing against the rocks.

A few yards from the busy fishing port, the medina features a large square and a couple of wide boulevards as well as a maze of narrow streets, all the more pleasant for being pedestrianised. (more…)

Five more places to visit in Marrakech

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Last month we published a selection of five of the best-known buildings in Marrakech illustrating different periods of the city’s rich cultural heritage. Here are another five buildings, monuments and gardens which should also be included on one’s list of ‘what to see in Marrakech’.

1. The Musée Dar Si Said. This museum of Moroccan Art is situated in a 19th century palace built for Si Saïd ibn Moussa, the Minister of War, in the mid 19th century. It surrounds a splendid courtyard, full of flowers and shady cypress trees, with a gazebo and fountain.

The exhibition rooms around the courtyard display a wide range of items from the long history of arts and crafts including carved doors, extraordinary stucco artistry and mosaics, plus jewellery, rugs, wedding costumes, leatherwork items and pottery. One can also visit the domed reception room and the former harem quarters.

2. The Ben Youssef koranic school. Situated close to the centre of Marrakech, this fascinating building is a former Islamic college where students came to learn and study the Koran. Founded in the 14th century, it was rebuilt in the 16th century during the Saadian Dynasty. Student cells and other rooms are disposed on three floors around a central courtyard dominated by a large pool in which students carried out their ablutions. The larger reception rooms are notable for their beautifully decorated and carved cedar beamed ceilings, marble floors and intricate plaster stuccowork. Wall and floor tiles, set in geometric patterns, bear inscriptions and quotations from the Koran. The school closed in 1960 but was restored and opened as an historical site in 1982.

3. The Palais des Congrès (conference centre). This contemporary building, resplendent with Islamic decorative overtones, is the city’s principle exhibition centre, home to major events such as the International Film Festival, numerous conferences and trade fairs. The space, which can accommodate up to 5,500 people, is located in the elegant Hivernage district on Boulevard Mohamed VI, home to many of the smartest hotels and residences.

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Five must-see architectural gems of Marrakech

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Founded in the 11th century, Marrakech is a city steeped in history, as evidenced by several of its most famous monuments and buildings. Here are five examples of Moroccan architecture in Marrakech that shouldn’t be missed.

1. Tombeaux Saadiens. Only a few hundred yards from Les Borjs de la Kasbah, these highly decorated tombs form one of the most important heritage sites in Morocco. One of the few remaining vestiges of the important Saadien dynasty, they date from the time of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603) although were sealed off on the orders of Alaouite Sultan Moulay Ismail who wanted all traces of the Saadien dynasty to be destroyed. Untouched for more than two centuries, the tombs were uncovered in 1917 and restored by the national ‘Beaux-Arts’ service. Due to their intricate decoration, a clear indication of the opulence of the time and a perfect example of the beauty of Islamic art, the tombs are a major attraction for visitors to Marrakech and should be high on your list of “what to see in Marrakech”. Expect domed ceilings, intricately carved marble pillars, cedar wood ceilings  and, most notably, extensive use of exquisite mosaic decoration.

2. Mansouria Mosque. Built by Yaqub al-Mansur, the Mansouria Mosque is also known as the Kasbah Mosque, being just 100 yards from the monumental gate into this fortified southern part of the Marrakech medina, Bab Agnaou. Although access to the interior is not open to non-Muslims, one can admire the impressive architecture of the building now restored to its former glory following an extensive facelift.

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5 alternative activities in Marrakech

Friday, February 1st, 2013

A hive of activity year round, Marrakech fizzes along with its varied menu of delights to tourists from the world over. As we have covered a number of these in previous posts we thought it would be useful to mention a short selection of alternative attractions, most of them outside the city of Marrakech itself.

1)     The Berbers of Morocco. The Berber Cultural Centre offers a glimpse into the history and culture of Morocco’s indigenous people (Arabs began to arrive only in the 8th century) comprising around half of the population today, most of them in the south-west and the mountainous areas of the High and Middle Atlas.

This fascinating centre reveals the full colourful history and customs of the Berber people from pre-Arab times to the present day.

2)     Jetski in Marrakech! Why not?! Just 30 minutes from Marrakech, at the foot of the High Atlas, snow capped in winter, you’ll find Lake Takerkoust, home to Atlas Jet and a private beach. Here you can ‘max out’ on thrills thanks to the latest Yamaha jetskis.

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Events in Marrakech February and March 2013

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Events in Marrakech February 2013

The Dakka Marrakchia Festival 1–28 February 2013

This annual festival of traditional Marrakchi music, which has taken place in one form or other for hundreds of years, is the opportunity for local people, professionals as well as enthusiastic amateurs, to express their musical talents.

At several street venues the air is filled with the sounds of Berber and other traditional music and frenetic rhythmic drumming.

Events in Marrakech March 2013

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Events in Marrakech January 2013

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Amar Circus 9th-27th January 2013

This well-known traditional circus complete with clowns, acrobats, illusions and animals comes to Marrakech; the venue is at the city gate Bab Jdid.

The Marrakech Marathon 27th January 2013

Recognised as one of the fastest marathon circuits in the world, the Marrakech course is planned to take in some of the city’s best-known landmarks as it wends its way around the leafy Hivernage quarter and along the main boulevards both in and outside the city.

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