Marrakech holidays are like no other. Located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, this cultural hotbed combines influxes of culture from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Arab nations. It enjoys a rich and varied heritage, and the many Marrakech historical sites and landmarks stand as a testament to the city’s fascinating history.
Djemma el Fna Market is a great place to start your explorations. The name of this bustling market place translates as ‘the vanishing mosque’, and the square itself used to house a magnificent place of worship, which was destroyed hundreds of years ago. Nowadays, you’ll find the market is full of fakirs, fire jugglers, snake charmers, and market stalls selling everything from fine cotton to livestock.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little more relaxing on your holiday to Marrakech, there are a number of places where you can go to unwind and escape from the chaotic bustle of the market squares. The Saadian Tombs for example, are both solemn and beautiful, set in a tranquil garden in Marrakech’s Medina Quarter. This 16th century labyrinth was constructed by Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour, to house the bodies of the royal family. Alternatively, you might like to visit Majorelle Gardens. Here you can admire beautifully landscaped gardens, rich with streams, wildlife and plants of all shapes and colours. Here you can also visit the fascinating Museum of Islamic Art.
Marrakech boasts a number of royal palaces, and many of these are open to the public. Palais Dar Si Said for example, was the magnificent home of some of Morocco’s early imperial rulers. The architecture is breathtaking, and housed inside the palace you’ll also find the Museum of Moroccan Arts, with informative exhibitions of jewelry, weapons and traditional costumes. Then there’s the El Bahia Palace, which is still used from time to time by the current royal family. This palace is particularly rich in Moorish architecture, and features a beautiful range of arches, colonnades and ornate engravings.
On a holiday to Marrakech, you can also admire the ancient stone wall that surrounds the Medina Quarter. These ramparts have stood since the 13th century, and offer visitors a unique view over the city, and the mountains that surround it.
One of the most popular things to do in Marrakech is to pay a visit to some of the city’s magnificent mosques. While most of them will only permit Muslims to enter, there are a few that are open to the public. However, even seen from the outside, these structures will make a lasting impression. Some good examples are the 16th century Ali ben Youssef Mosque, and The Koutoubia – whose seventy metre minaret is the tallest Marrakech landmark.
There are plenty more things to see and do on a holiday to Marrakech, and it would take a long time to list all of the city’s historical sites and landmarks. The best thing you can do is see for yourself. Explore the winding streets, visit the chaotic market squares, and soak in the ancient atmosphere of this vibrant, exciting city.
Richard Morten is a freelance writer and musician based in Bristol. He regularly contributes to a number of local newspapers, online journals and reference sites, as well as taking editorial roles on two regular publications. Richard's work reflects strong interests in travel, culture, music and philosophy.