Africa travel guide

Places to visit in Marrakech

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It is always difficult to recommend places to see in Marrakesh as everybody is different, however whilst in Marrakech for our short trip we visited a few places as time allowed. Most places do shut at 4:30, so it is best to go earlier rather than later. Due to the cock up of our accommodation, we had little time to actually see much on this trip.

Bahai Palace

The first place to we went was the Bahia Palace. This to pretty easy to find and boasts some of the best wood carved roofs in morocco. The Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century, intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The name Bahia means “brilliance” and was created to demonstrate wealth and capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style.

The Palace covers approximately 2 acres of gardens and buildings with rooms opening onto open courtyards. The Palace was completed in the 1800’s by Si Moussa, grand vizier of the sultan and was basically a house for the harem of the sultan. Each wing is ornately decorated by wooden carvings and mosaics, especially the ceilings.

Cost of entry is 10 Dirhams and multilingual tour guides are available to show you round.

Al Badii Palace

The next place we visited was the Al Badii Palace. This is just a short walk from the Bahia Palace.

The Al Badii Palace consists of the ruins of a palace built by the Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1578. The original building consisted of 360 rooms, a huge courtyard and a large pool. When it was built, it was richly decorated with Italian marble and gold. It also contains an underground jail where the king kept his prisoners.

The palace took approximately 25 years to build but was destroyed in the seventeenth century by the Sultan Moulay Ismail, who used the material to decorate his own palace in Meknes. All around the walls, storks have built nests and have become a permanent feature of the Palace.

Djeema El Fna and Souk

No trip to Marrakesh is complete without a visit to the Djeema el Fna and the souk. As I have mentioned before, the souk is massive and literally you can get lost for hours in here. This is the largest souk of its kind and everything can be found here, pretty much everything is made on site in the hundreds of workshops.

One big problem in the souk is that the taking photos is pretty much not allowed by the traders. They get extremely cross and force a payment from you if you do. This is a shame as without this attitude, more tourists would actually go into the shops, but it is quite an intimidating atmosphere, even for people who are used to this.

Many a bargain can be made if you know what you want and what you are prepared to pay for it. Haggling is a national sport and so you need to be prepared to go in tough and poker faced to get what you want. Remember they are shrude businessmen and will only sell for a profit, regardless of the sob stories they spin.

The entrances and exits all converge on the main square, and I suggest you take some time in one of the balconied cages to just sit and watch they world go by for a while.

In the square, you will see jugglers, musicians, snake charmers and acrobats all trying to squeeze any money out of you. Be careful with the camera, a shot may end up costing you a few dirham, even if you try to do it candidly as they are eagle eyed and try forcefully get money from you if they even think you have a picture.

Koutoubia Mosque

A short walk away is the Koutoubia Mosque which dominates the skyline. Non Muslims are not allowed in the mosque, but it is quite impressive architecturally and towers above all other structures in the area.

The minaret towers above all buildings in the city and is about 70mt high. It can be seen right across the city and can be used as a navigation point if you get lost. It is built with a pink sandstone which seems to change colour throughout the day, according to the sunlight. 4 globes of gold top the minaret.

Marrakesh is a magical place and you will not tire of the vibrant atmosphere – particularly at night when the Djeema El Fna seems to be the centre of everything. One thing you do need to be careful of is pick-pockets. This seems to be the scourge of any city, but Marrakesh has more than its fair share. It tends to be children, so always keep your valuables protected.

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