Archive for the ‘Marrakech Tourist Attractions’ Category

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.


December 2015 Events in Marrakech

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

One of the year’s cooler months, December in Marrakech is still very pleasant, at least by comparison with much of the rest of the northern hemisphere. Daily temperatures range between lows of 9 degrees to highs of around 20 and you can reckon on around 7 hours of sunshine every day. There are several events and other attractions in Marrakech in December, the International Film Festival being the most notable.

International Film Festival – this year marks the 15th edition of this increasingly popular international event taking place from the 4th – 12th December, the jury president this year being Francis Ford Coppola. An important centre of film production over many decades, Morocco has welcomed some of the top names in the industry in recent years, not least Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese, Orson Wells and David Lean having made films here as far back as the sixties. Following the special tribute last year to Japanese cinema, this year’s festival celebrates Canada’s contribution to the film industry. As usual, several films will be screened on the main square (Jemaa el Fna) in the centre of town, as well as other venues.

New Year’s Eve – although not an official national holiday in a Muslim country like Morocco, which operates to the Islamic as opposed to Gregorian calendar, New Year is celebrated widely, as it is in most major, non-Christian tourist destinations, especially in hotels. At Les Borjs de la Kasbah a gastronomic gala dinner is laid on for guests preceded by cocktails around the pool. The hotel’s main patio becomes a tented dining venue for the evening with a variety of entertainment including music and belly dancing, fire eating display and magic performances at table. After midnight a disc jockey takes over as revellers dance their way into the wee small hours.


Marrakech in November – Events and Other Things to Do

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

With daily temperatures ranging between 11 and 23 degrees, November in Marrakech is very pleasant. Visitors can expect over seven hours of sunshine and little, if any rain (31mm per month). A number of events at this time of year are worthy of note:

November Events in Marrakech

The two main events in Marrakech during November are the Eid Al Massira Al Khadra on the 6th and Eid Al Istiqulal on the 18th.

Eid Al Massira Al Khadra, the ‘Green March’ Anniversary, commemorates the march of 27,000 soldiers and approximately 350,000 unarmed Moroccans to the Western Sahara’s border on the 6th of November 1975. Identifying with Islam through choice of the symbolic colour green and directed by King Hassan II, the march was undertaken to call for the return of the territory to Morocco.

Marked by varying festivities throughout the country, Eid Al Istiqulal is Morocco’s Independence Day, a National Holiday commemorating the return of King Mohammed from his exile in Madagascar and the subsequent declaration of independence from both France and Spain on this day in 1956.

Other Marrakech Events in November


September Events in Marrakech and elsewhere in Morocco

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Morocco hosts a variety of events in September, including:

Marrakech Art Fair - designed specifically for those interested in contemporary art, this event sees collectors and galleries showing off some of their most original modern creations. Most of the best galleries are to be found in Guéliz, the post war commercial quarter of the city.

Latin Dance Festival – open to all, this exciting event, taking place at the Palmaraie Palace resort between 2nd and 8th September, is an exuberant tribute to latin dance and salsa. Pool partys will be held at the Hotel du Golf.

Moonfest Takerkoust – this three-day festival takes place beside the lake of Lalla Takerkoust, in a beautiful part of the Atlas just 35 km (22 miles) from Marrakech. The festival comprises musical gigs (including local and international rock bands) as well as cultural and tourist themed attractions, many of the attendees being housed in a tented village by the lakeside.


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.


Visiting Marrakech – Top Tips for Maximum Enjoyment

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Intriguing, atmospheric and filled with a seemingly endless variety of sightseeing options, the city of Marrakech is one of the most tourist friendly destinations in North Africa and, unlike most of its neighbours in the Maghreb, it suffers from none of the political unrest seen in the Middle East, Egypt and Tunisia. There are, however, a few things you should know in order to get the most out of your visit.

Bringing Cash

It is difficult to find ATMs in most parts of the city’s ancient medina although they are numerous in and around the Jemma El-Fna, the city’s main square. They are also widely available in Gueliz, the modern commercial quarter. Many shops and restaurants accept credit cards, although by no means as many as would be the case in Europe or America. Shopping in the souks invariably requires cash, i.e. Moroccan dirhams, although quite a few traders are happy to accept euros. There are several bureaux de change at Marrakech Menara airport but you will be able to draw cash without much difficulty in many parts of town.


Marrakech Events to look out for in June 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

As temperatures continue to soar, the month of June sees fewer events than in May but there are still a couple worthy of mention.

Mawzine Festival

The month starts with the Mawzine Festival in Rabat. Running from 29th May till 6th June, it comprises a starry line up of international acts, exhibitions and street performances.

Mort de Rire

The International Comedy Festival (also commonly known as the MDR – ‘mort de rire’, French for ‘to die laughing’) is scheduled to take place from 10th to 14th June. Inspired by Moroccan/ French comedian, actor and producer Jamel Debbouze, the event showcases a stellar line up of francophone comedy talent. The main venue is the Badi Palace while others include the French Institute, the Theatre Royal and Palais des Congrés.

Other Things to do in June


Marrakech in May – upcoming events

Friday, May 15th, 2015

From festivals taking place in Marrakech itself to those in the surrounding area and slightly further afield, every one of the popular events listed below is well worth adding to your schedule of things to see and do when planning your holiday in Marrakech.

Babyboomer’s Adventure Rally, 05/05/2015 – This light-hearted sightseeing rally takes in some of Morocco’s most scenic landscapes and routes. Winners are not determined by who reaches the final destination first but by whose car (and driver) are considered to be the ‘best turned out’ for the occasion.

Gnaoua & World Music Festival, 14/05 to 17/05/2015 – Taking place in coastal Essaouira, this annual event celebrates local gnaoua music but also features regional and international acts. The free public concerts regularly attract thousands of visitors from around the world.

World Sacred Music Festival, Fez, 22/05 to 30/05/2015 – Aiming to ‘highlight the spirituality and musical traditions which have served human and social development through the ages’, this wonderful festival, featuring some of the world’s best exponents of a diverse range of musical traditions, explores a vast repertoire of rhythms and musical genres.


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.


Marrakech in May – roses, music and local cuisine!

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Long sunny days and rapidly rising temperatures make May another good month to visit Marrakech. One can expect around 10 hours of daily sunshine and temperatures well up into the high twenties, even low thirties. As always, there is lots to see and do in Marrakech, from delightful gardens and historic sites to museums, leisure parks, festivals and more.

Events in May

Events this month begin with Yaûm Al-Âmal, Morocco’s version of Labour Day, on the 1st of the month. This is swiftly followed by the Festival of the Roses on the 2nd. Taking place at El-Kelaa M’Gouna, the latter celebrates the sea of roses that has earned the Dadès Valley, south of the Atlas, its name ‘Valley of the Roses’.

Gnaoua & World Music Festival

From the 12th to 15th May, Essouira, a coastal town around two hours from Marrakech, hosts the Gnaoua & World Music Festival. Attracting thousands of visitors, the festival includes free public concerts featuring some ofMorocco’s finest Gnaoua music and many international acts. More information concerning this event can be found here.