Archive for the ‘Marrakech Tours’ 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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Jardin Secret in Marrakech – The ‘new’ secret gardens of Marrakech

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Opened to the public in March 2016, this beautiful garden is located in the city’s Mouassine district, on the site of a former Marrakech governor’s residence. A haven of peace that transports you back in time and through history to the Saadian dynasty, the secret garden consisting of two courtyards with lush gardens, fountains and majestic buildings combining botanical diversity and architectural beauty.

Entrance Courtyard 

Evoking Morocco’s colonial approach to garden design, the first courtyard is packed with plants from North and South Africa, the Mediterranean, Australia, Southern California and other regions with climates similar to that of Morocco. Trees in this courtyard were sourced from nurseries in Sicily while a Casablanca nursery supplied the majority of plants. A complex blaze of colour, this scented part of the ‘Jardin Secret’ with its many flowers evokes the Red City’s exoticism and romance.

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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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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

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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.

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Morocco’s Berber Culture

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

The core national identity of Morocco is based on its predominant twin cultures, indigenous Berber and Arab. Around 45% of Moroccans will claim direct Berber descent and about the same proportion Arab, although given the impact on the country’s history and culture since the arrival of civilisations from the Roman and Phoenician eras, and beyond, the origins of many Moroccans today are more complicated than that.

About the Berbers

The native Imazighen or Berber people of Morocco can be traced back as far as 4,000 years and some of their myths, legends and connections with other parts of Africa go back even further. The strength of the Berber identity is firmly rooted in its unique language and culture, both of which combine Mediterranean, European, Oriental and other international influences. During the seventh/eighth century steady migration from the Middle East and Maghreb introduced Islam and the Arabic language to the country, the two most dominant features of Moroccan culture today.

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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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Koutoubia Mosque – a major Marrakech landmark

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The Koutoubia Mosque, one of Morocco’s largest, in the centre of Marrakech was built in 1158 by the Almohads, one of the country’s great imperial cities.

Koutoubia Minaret

The Koutoubia’s rose-coloured sandstone minaret stands 12.5 m wide and 67.5 m high. Adorned with delicately sculptured decorations giving the appearance of lacework on the stone walls, it is topped by a cupola crowned with three golden copper orbs and a square, decorated lantern. Most striking is the perfect harmony of the minaret’s height and width, a perfect example of Hispano-Moorish which served, as a model for the Giralda in Seville.

Legends of the Orbs

The beautiful orbs crowning the minaret’s cupola are surrounded by legend, one of which claims that they were created by melting down the jewellery belonging to the wife of Yacoub-el-Mansour, who completed construction of the tower started by Sultan Abd el-Moumen. Another legend is a warning to thieves that the orbs are guarded by jins (genies) who will plague with terrible misfortunes anyone trying to steal them.

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