Traveling with Friends to Marrakesh
Marrakech is a must-visit city during a trip to Morocco. I have excellent memories. I highly recommend spending a day or two in Marrakech when you have the chance to visit Morocco. I hope you can get valuable information to prepare your next trip to Morocco, and that this example of travel diary can inspire you.
I and my friend visited Marrakesh a few months ago, during our tour of southern Morocco. We stayed only a day and a half in Marrakech to visit the main points of interest (but we did not have time to hang out). This ancient imperial city has an important historical legacy. Not least because there are many dynasties like the Almohads, the Almoravids and the Saadians. The architecture of buildings and historic monuments is very interesting.
In the morning, we started the visit of Marrakesh by going to the Menara Gardens, located near the city center. On the road, I was surprised to discover the heavy traffic on the Avenue Mohammed V. Some tourists travel by horse-drawn carriage, others go on camel treks. It's quite exotic!
In the Menara Gardens, we discover about forty varieties of olive trees, as well as the irrigation system set up, more than 700 years old. There is a large pool located next to a pavilion that acts as a reservoir. I really enjoyed the visit of these gardens. We have the opportunity to make a nice walk. The atmosphere there is relatively calm, compared to the tumult of the Jemaa el-Fnaa, that I had the opportunity to discover in the afternoon.
We then took the taxi to the Koutoubia mosque. Rather than dropping us near the Koutoubia, the driver preferred to drop us in the vicinity, in front of the store of his cousin. It surprised us at first but in Morocco, it's like that. So we head to the Koutoubia on foot! This religious building represents the art of the Almohads (although the construction of this monument began under the Almoravid dynasty in the 12th century).
This mosque is also called the mosque of booksellers because it was located at the souk of manuscript dealers. The exterior architecture of the Koutoubia, including the minaret is really worth a look. The park around this monument is also very peaceful and appreciable.
We had lunch then we walked in the district of Kasbah to the Saadian tombs. I appreciated the decoration and the beauty of the tombs. They date from the 16th century but they were discovered and restored only at the beginning of the 20th century. The most surprising mausoleum is that which is composed of 12 columns and which houses the tomb of Sultan Ahmed El Mansour of the Saadian dynasty.
We then depart towards the Bahia Palace. This building of the 19th century is really worth visiting, just to discover its beautiful Moroccan architecture. At the time, it was the most majestic palace in Morocco. The palace of the beautiful was actually a gift from the vizier for his favorite wife.
It reveals how Ahmed ben Moussa and his 4 wives lived, not to mention his 24 concubines. The rooms are decorated with marble, wood paintings, stained glass and sculptures. The patios are just as beautiful. Today, a part of this palace is open to visits, and hosts art exhibitions. Another private part serve as accommodation for the Moroccan royal family.
We also visited the Dar Si Said Museum of Fine Arts. By going there, I enjoyed discovering a nice neighborhood with pretty streets and impressive riads. I am not a very museum freak but I still enjoyed discovering a little more about Moroccan crafts and culture. There are, for example, pretty presentations of jewelry, costumes and pottery. Especially the decoration of the Museum and the building that houses it is full of charm.
Then we go to the souks of Marrakech. This is of course an essential step to fully discover this imperial city. We walk in its narrow streets where the souks of small size succeed one another. The crowd is present and we almost jostle to move forward, not to mention the mopeds that roam on all sides.
We appreciate the charm of traditional Moroccan objects like babouches, carpets, and tea sets. We get drunk with the good smell of spices. We appreciate the special atmosphere, but we buy nothing! From one stall to another, prices double. Of course, we have to negotiate prices but I cannot stand the pressure from traders. They will do everything, for example, to sell a T-shirt far too small. All occasions are good to ask us for a piece.
Leaving the souks of Marrakesh, we arrive at Jemaa El-Fna Square. This popular place is home to many merchants and traders with their stalls and street vendors. Jemaa El-Fna is registered with the heritage of UNESCO. It is famous especially for its animated and surprising life. We see snake charmers, monkeys, and fire eaters. To enjoy quietly this place and take pictures, we go for a drink in a cafe in a terrace!
Overall, I have fond memories of my trip to Marrakesh. It is a surprising city, hectic, with wonderful architecture. Personally, we would not have liked to stay longer because we were a little tired after facing the relentless salesmen in the souks.