Archive for the ‘Excursions Marrakech’ Category

Berber Eco-Museum in the Ourika Valley

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Virtually all of Morocco’s ethnic groups are Berber-Arabs, a fact reflected in much of this exciting city’s architecture and cultural traditions about which much can be learned by visiting the Berber Eco-Museum near Ourika, in the foothills of the High Atlas, some 37 kms south of Marrakech. Located in the pottery village of Tafza, in one of the village kasbahs, the museum is said to be the first Berber museum in Morocco.

What’s on Offer?

Restored using traditional construction techniques, the museum features a permanent collection of rugs and pottery and various other fine examples of Berber culture, and also hosts temporary exhibitions such as “Landscapes and Faces of the High Atlas 1957″, which featured documentaries by humanist photographer and film-maker Daniel Chicault. More than just a historic collection, the museum also offers a research and student centre as well as a variety of activities, including tree planting, village and High Atlas treks, music and pottery courses.

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Marrakech in July 2016 – Scorching Dates for Your Diary

Monday, June 13th, 2016

With temperatures ranging between 21C and 37C, July is, alongside August, the hottest month of the year in Marrakech, both in terms of the searing dry heat and its popular festivals.

National and Religious Holidays

There are two religious festivals in July, the first of which, Lailat al Kadr, takes place on Friday, July 1st. Commemorating the night on which the Koran was originally revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, this ‘Night of Power’ is considered to be the Muslim year’s holiest event.

Eid al-Fitr

The second, equally important religious festival taking place in July is Eid al-Fitr, which sees Muslims around the world celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan by visiting friends and family and exchanging gifts. There are also numerous parades and street parties.

Eid al Arch

Eid al Arch, the ‘Feast of the Throne’, is a National Holiday marking the succession of King Mohammed VI from his father Hassan II. Held annually on the 30th of July, this day is celebrated with cavalcades (parades or processions on horseback), feasts and fireworks.

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Sidi Ghanem, an Unexpected Treasure Trove

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Industrial areas rarely attract tourists and, as a result, Sidi Ghanem, an industrial zone located some 15 minutes (by car) from downtown Marrakech, is typically overlooked. However, if you are looking for original, hand crafted goods at manufacturers’ prices, many of which are hard to find in the souks, the area is well worth a visit.

About Sidi Ghanem

Though hardly photogenic, due to its many ateliers and factories, Sidi Ghanem has over recent years experienced a real boom thanks to the large numbers of foreign and local designers setting up shops and studios here. Today, visitors will find a treasure trove of articles and wares of all kinds and may even get a chance to meet some of the designers. There is also a handy French bistro for a little refreshment.

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Hot Diary Dates for June in Marrakech 2016

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

With temperatures between 17 C (night time lows) and 31 (daily highs) and very little rain, Marrakech gets rather hot in June. While keeping out of the searing midday sun is recommended (there are some wonderful historic sites, museums and verdant gardens to keep cool in), June sees a series of festivals and events.

Ramadan, 06/06/2016 – 05/07/2016

The 6th of June marks the beginning of Ramadan, the month of fasting concluding with the Eid el-Fitr feast day on the 5th of July. While business continues pretty much ‘as usual’ in the squares and souks of Marrakech, and restaurants, gardens, museums and palaces remain open, it is wise to remember that you are visiting a Muslim country at a particularly holy time in the Islamic calendar and that there are certain rules one should observe out of courtesy for local residents.

Fes Sacred Musical Festival, 13/06/2016 – 21/06/2016

One of Morocco’s most important cultural events, the Sacred Music Festival in Fes celebrates and promotes the relationship between spirituality and the arts, although the spectrum of performances is actually much wider than that. Local as well as celebrated international artists representing many different cultures from around the world, are on display with outstanding performances of music and dance.

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Top Walks Around Marrakech

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Walking around Marrakech is one of the best means of exploring the city’s many delights (horse-drawn carriage rides being another). And easy as it is to get lost in the Medina, temporary loss of one’s bearings actually adds to the excitement of the sensory overload that characterises the bustling souks.

Take time to look at the quirky details of many building facades; notice how no two windows or doors are exactly the same; note how the low, covered walkways and door frames seem to have been designed for a shorter generation. These are just some of the features that make walking through Marrakech a fascinating experience.

Top City Walks

Here are five of the most popular walks, each taking in different aspects of the city in both the ancient medina and its modern counterpart.

• Rue Semmarine – one of the Medina’s main arteries, this one embodies the essence of the souks’ frenetic energy. Here, bazaar booths packed with every imaginable (and some unimaginable) objects strike you from every angle. (more…)

Marrakesh Museum of Photography

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Situated at 46 Rue Ahal Fassi, the Marrakech Museum of Photography is a little gem of a visitor attraction albeit one that is too often overlooked by tourists due to its slightly out of the way location on one of the narrow streets of the northern Marrakech medina.

About the Marrakech Museum of Photography

First opened to the public in 2009, this privately owned museum is designed to display the extraordinary diversity of Morocco as recorded by famous and not-so-famous visitors to the city from the beginnings of photography right up to modern times. As an ever-growing archive on Marrakech it also represents a history of ‘architecture and ideas’

The Collection

The museum’s collection of treasures includes photographs (some of which date back to the 1870s), postcards and glass plates, maps, newspapers and documentaries. In addition, visitors can arrange visits to the museum’s library, request to see films and/or organise conferences.

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Ali Ben Youssef Medersa – A Must for Fans of Historic Architecture

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

A splendid place to admire traditional Moroccan architecture while unwinding from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Ali Ben Youssef medersa is a must for anyone interested in art, architecture and Islamic culture in general. A medersa, an intricately decorated school building as impressive in its way as any European university, is critical to the culture of Muslims.

A Brief History

Founded in the 14th Century by Abu al-Hassan, the then ruling Marinid Sultan, the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa is Morocco’s largest madrasa. In 1565, a reconstruction of the original building ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib (Saadian Sultan 1557 to 1574) was completed. Restored again in 1950 before being closed to both the general public and the faithful in 1960, the madrasa was finally reopened to in 1982 following further restoration work to permit visitors to experience this exquisite master-piece of Moroccan architecture and art.

The Madersa

Featuring 130 dormitory cells for students clustered around a richly carved courtyard with its central rectangular pool and two bronze fountains, Ali Ben Youssef Medersa was one of North Africa’s largest theological colleges and was home to perhaps as many as 900 students at a time.

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Notable Occasions in August in Marrakech

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Marrakech, like all other cities and regions in Morocco, celebrates three major public holidays during August. The first of these events, Allegiance Day, takes place on Friday, the 14th.

Allegiance Day

Zikra Oued Ed-Dahab, as this national holiday is locally known, is celebrated to mark the return, by Mauritania to Morocco, of the disputed region of Oued Eddahab.

Thaourat al-malik wa shâab

On August 20th the country celebrates ‘Thaourat al-Malik wa Shâab’, or ‘The King & the People’s Revolution’, an event commemorating King Mohammed V’s return to Morocco after exile in Madagascar. Mohammed V’s return set in motion the negotiations which eventually led to Morocco becoming an independent nation.

Eid Al Milad

Introduced mainly for the youth of Morocco (Eid Al Milad is often referred to as ‘Youth Day’), this public holiday, on 21st August, marks the official birthday of Mohammed VI. Ascending to Morocco’s throne following the death of his father, King Hassan II, in July 1999, King Mohammed is the Alaouite dynasty’s 18th monarch. Intended to reflect the harmonious relationship between the king and his citizens, Eid Al Milad sets the tone for a joyful, festive atmosphere throughout the country.

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Visit the Enchanting Valley of Roses

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

While in Marrakech you should consider setting aside a day to visit the fortified village of Kalaa M’Goun (or Kelaat M’Gouna) in the picturesque, aptly-named and fragrant ‘Rose Valley’.

Kalaa M’Goun and the Rose

Appreciated as a departure point for walks and treks into the High Atlas, Kalaa M’Goun is the rose capital of Morocco. Here, the rose is the symbol both of hospitality (guests are given roses before and after meals), and of purity as distilled rose water is used for ablutions.

The Valley of Roses

Tours through the Valley of Roses start at Kalaa M’Goun and end some 30 km away at Bhou Thrar, location of the impressive, fortified village (ksar) that overlooks a beautiful oasis of calm. Distilleries which convert rose petals into rose water (one litre of rose water from no less than seven tons of rose petals) as well as soap and various other related products can be visited throughout the year. Rose derived products may be purchased on site. [M1] [M2] [M3]

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Exploring the Marrakech Souks

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

To first-time visitors, the labyrinthine Marrakech souks will seem like a bewildering warren of narrow passageways, impossible to navigate. There is, however, some simple advice for negotiating your way round this vast market and, in the process, getting the most from your visit.

Method to Madness

First of all, remember that the layout of the souks, as with every other major market in the world, has some method in its apparent madness. As you look closer, you will notice that there are clearly defined sections within which the respective trades are grouped together making shopping for the various products on offer, from food and spices, to textiles, household goods and souvenirs, that much easier to manage.

Focal Points

However laid out, in a circular manner or rectangular grid system, or just randomly labyrinthine, markets always have anchoring focal points and the Marrakech souks are no exception. Focal points here include, for instance, the vast central square, the Place Jemaa el Fna, and the slightly smaller Spice Square, from which one can access the Carpet Souk, for example. If all else fails, you can always ask for directions back to these anchor-points.

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