Archive for the ‘Marrakech Tourist Attractions’ Category

The 7 Delights of a Trip to the Cascades d’Ouzoud

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Situated within the Grand Atlas province of Azilal, some 150 km to the north-east of Marrakech, the Cascades d’Ouzoud are more than simple waterfalls.

Surrounding Region

The journey from Marrakech to the Cascades d’Ouzoud is an experience in itself as the road takes you there via green valleys and the superb gorge of the El Abid River, passing orchards and ageless olive mills along the way to the Berber village of Tanaghmeilt, close by. Seeing the magnetic beauty of this desert region it is easy to understand why much of the area is designated a conservation site by a number of national and local organisations.

Cascades d’Ouzoud

First sight of the Cascades d’Ouzoud explains why they are renowned as one of the region’s most photographed sites. Dropping in a series of wide and narrow steps from a height of 110 m, the falls are at their most beautiful during mid-to-late afternoon when the appearance of rainbows makes the scene even more spectacular, the widest of them appearing towards the bottom of the series of cascades.

The Top of the Falls

Refreshingly un-commercialised, with just a few Berber traders selling fresh orange juice and market produce, every section of the falls offers a fascinating spectacle. At the summit you’ll find a dozen or so small mills, the last working examples of the many olive and flour mills believed to have given the site its name, Ouzoud being the Berber term for the act of grinding.

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4 Great Places for Kids in Marrakech

Monday, February 17th, 2014

While historic sites and monuments, stately gardens and the delights of shopping in the souks of Marrakech may appeal to adults, children quickly tire of admiring Berber carpets, sampling spices (however colourful and tantalisingly odiferous!) and learning about ancient history.

So here are just a few great places for kids in Marrakech to keep them busy and, more importantly, smiling.

Le Bowling

Situated in the Palmeraie, Le Bowling is a quaint, air-conditioned bowling alley. Featuring six lanes, it is perfect for keeping kids from going stir crazy in your hotel when it’s too hot to do anything else. A bar and billiard tables are also available.

Kawkab Jeux

Offering arts and crafts, workshops, games and a host of other state-of-the-art activities for children of all ages, the Kawkab Jeux on Rue Imam Chafaï in the central area of Marrakech is ideal for keeping your kids amused while you try your hand at a bit of old fashioned haggling in a nearby souk. There are video games, a mini-train, playground slides, mini foot tables and a snack bar.

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The Place Jemaa El Fna

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Like most of Morocco’s cities, Marrakech has two sharply contrasting personalities, in the shape of the modern, commercial quarter of Guéliz and the original walled medina.

One of five Moroccan medinas included for their architectural richness on the Unesco World Heritage list, the medina of Marrakech, packed with grandiose monuments and an extensive souk, is built around the celebrated Jemaa El Fna, a thronged, pulsating square in the very heart of town.

Shoppers’ Paradise

Surrounded by labyrinthine alleyways amid tightly packed houses, Djemaa El Fna is the starting point for accessing the apparently endless maze of souks selling everything from cheap souvenirs and trinkets and spices to beautiful carpets and finely-crafted wood and metal artifacts, including traditional jewellery. All day long refreshments in the shape of freshly-squeezed orange juice and delicious Moroccan dates are available from a plethora of vendors in and around the central square.

Step back in Time

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Visit the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Amid the frenetic buzz of Marrakech one can still find pockets of tranquil serenity in sharp contrast to the heat and pace of the city all around.

One such oasis of calm is the Majorelle Garden, or Jardin Majorelle, one of the most popular visitor attractions in Marrakech. Named after its French-born designer, Jacques Majorelle, a French painter inspired by the Art Nouveau movement of the early 1900s, the garden in its modern form spans around two and a half acres blending nature and design.

Here, the sound of gently running water from marble pools, fountains and irrigation channels and the constant chatter of birdlife create an idyllic atmosphere of sub tropical exoticism as raised paths lead one through plantations of banana trees and bamboo, coconut palms and bougainvillea and an impressive collection of cactae.

Majorelle spent some forty years designing and sculpting his garden into a splendid piece of botanical art although, following his death in 1962, it fell into a state of neglect.

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Art in Marrakech – Matisse Art Gallery

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Marrakech is a city rich in historic art and culture but one of the best galleries of contemporary art is the Matisse Art Gallery situated along the Passage Ghandouri (number 43, off 61 Rue Yougoslavie), not far from the central station.

For more than a decade Youssef Falaky, the gallery Director, has dedicated his time and energy to curating exhibitions that not only showcase the talent of some of Morocco’s leading established artists (the likes of Claude Viallat, Farid Belkahia, Mahi Binebine, Nureddine Chater, Hassan El Glaoui) but also expose the work of up-and-coming creative talents, many of whom the gallery manages exclusively.

With its polished black marble facia, the gallery oozes contemporary chic with its collection of art old and new – an atmosphere continued throughout the recently refurbished building.

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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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One hump not two – a dromedary ride in Marrakech

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

If on a quest for the exotic and evocative you simply cannot pass up the opportunity to ‘sail’ through the Marrakech desert on one of its most mysterious ‘ships’.

Located in the north-east corner of Marrakech, La Palmeraie is a palm-filled oasis shaded by thousands of trees and the perfect sanctuary from the heat and madness of the inner city.

Riding through the Palmeraie is a great way to explore the rural outskirts of Marrakech. Tours last from 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on how much time you have, and most will include a halt en route for a cup of mint tea and Moroccan pancakes.

If you fancy the idea of experiencing something rather special, indeed unique, here are a couple of tips:

1. Wear long trousers and long socks – the motion of the camel will cause your trousers to creep up (and camel hair is itchy), so wear long socks to save you from sun, sand and scratching!

2. Don’t forget your sunscreen – even though the Palmeraie is mostly shady. A hat and sunglasses may also be a good idea.

3. Be confident – animals pick up on your attitude so if you’re comfortable, your camel should be too.

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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