Marrakech: 7 must-see attractions
What to see in Marakech?
Jemaa el Fnaa square
The beating heart of the city. Located in the very centre of the Medina, the Jemaa El Fna Square, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, is a meeting place for both locals and tourists alike. This vast market place buzzes both day and night. It's home to merchants, snake charmers, street vendors and fortune tellers, it's a must-see attraction during your visit to the Red City.
A must during a stay in Marrakech, the Souk is a real maze of winding alleys, where it is very easy to get lost, so it's better to have a map before wandering through them. Then begins a maze of small shops overflowing with bags, babouches( traditional leather slippers), woollen and silk rugs and various other objects from the Moroccan craftsmanship. If you are looking for souvenirs to take home, head for the spice square, where the scents of turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, and other scents fill and colour the stalls. You will also come across a few cultural institutions such as the Marrakech Museum or the House of Photography. Close by, the Koranic school of Medersa Ben Youssef is a jewel of Moorish architecture that you cannot miss!
A landmark of the city, the Koutoubia is the symbolic Minaret of Marrakech which can be seen from miles away. A few steps away from the Jemaa El Fna Square, the high silhouette of the Minaret is easily recognisable and has notably served as a model for the famous Giralda of Seville. Located next to the Mosque of the same name, the building reveals its splendour at nightfall, when it lit up.
Another essential stopover during your first visit to Marrakesh is the Majorelle garden. A haven of greenery and serenity in the middle of the bustle of the city. It's a peaceful place where you can stroll through exotic vegetation, fountains, water lily basins and flowering shrubs. It is no coincidence that the famous French fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent fell in love with it, and decided to buy it in 1980 with his companion Pierre Bergé. The garden is home to a memorial for the designer, and next to it is the museum dedicated to Yves Saint-Laurent's work and career. Since 2011, there is also a museum dedicated to the Berber culture, right in the heart of the Majorelle garden
If you wish to escape from the hustle and bustle of the Medina, you don't have to go very far. The Menara, a large olive grove which extends over more than 100 hectares, offers Marrakechis and tourists an oasis of freshness located on the outskirts of the ramparts. It's isn't as touristic as the Majorelle Garden so it's an ideal spot for a romantic picnic or a family walk in nature. Take your time to stroll along the peaceful central basin, and contemplate the magnificent panorama of the Atlas Mountains peaks.
For only a few dirhams, it would really be a pity to deprive yourself of the chance to visit the Bahia Palace, an incredibly luxurious building with its typical Moroccan architecture. Dating back to the end of the 19th century, this eight-hectare palace is now one of the most visited cultural sites in Morocco. Inside, you will find a succession of richly decorated rooms as well as gardens designed in the Moroccan Riad tradition ( a house with rooms around a courtyard, with a garden and a central fountain... To begin with raise your eyes and admire the splendid carved wooden ceilings, before then marvelling at the magnificent entirely marble-covered main courtyard.
Situated in the Medina, close to the rest of the other tourist attractions, the sumptuous Saadian tombs are the only remaining evidence of the magnificence of the country during its Golden age. They were built in the 16th century on the orders of Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansur Saadi and are home to the remains of the Kings and Princes of the Saadian Dynasty, who ruled Morocco between 1524 and 1659. Richly decorated in an Arab-Moorish tradition, this site is particularly exceptional since it's the only remaining vestige of this period, because the Sultan Moulay Ismaïl took care of removing all traces of the Dynasty. Walled and forgotten for several hundred years, the site was rediscovered in 1917 and entirely restored by the Fine Arts Department. Of the three funeral rooms in the complex, the most impressive one is the 12-column room, magnificently decorated with Carrara marble tombstones.