Destination Information Series
Things to Do in Marrakesh, Morocco
By Sara Tiffany
Five Things Not to Miss
Marrakesh was founded nearly 1000 years ago and you will find that the "Medina", meaning old town, has a timeless quality about it. This historic and culturally rich city is a great place to spend the last few days of your Moroccan expedition with Berg Adventures. While the city is full of countless worthwhile sites and activities, here are five things not to miss.
Listed as the a UNESCO World Hertiage site under the category of "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity", Jemaa el-Fnaa is a cultural wonder. During the day it is little more than an open space with a few food and beverage stalls and snake charmers, but at night the area erupts into a center of activity filled with dancers, story-tellers, magicians and healers. Prepare yourself for an evening of wide-eyed wonder! The Koutoubia Mosque borders the Jemaa el-Fnaa and is also worth a visit, though non-muslims are only allowed outside of the building as it is an active place of worship. The mineret of the mosque is the tallest structure in the Medina and will help keep you oriented throughout your time in the city.
Days under the African sun are hot and come afternoon you will be searching for a shady place to relax. If you know where to look, Marrakesh has some beautiful green spaces. The large Agdal Gardens south of the Medina have a long history and spent a few hundred years in ruin before they were restored to their original glory in the 19th century. It is an ideal place for an afternoon walk among sprawling gardens and numerous ponds. The Majorelle Garden was first created by French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s and subsequently owned and maintained by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The gardens are beautifully manicured and include dessert wildflowers and cacti, groves of bamboo and lily ponds. Finally, the Menara Gardens make a great place for a picnic and offer up picture-perfect views of the High Atlas mountains.
Souks is a word used to describe open-air markets throughout Morocco, but the souks of Marrakesh are among the best in the country. Filled with everything from carpets and textiles to wood and leather goods, you'll sure to find something beautiful for each of your loved ones back home. Go early in the morning for the best selection or late in the afternoon for the best deals. Shop in short intervals to avoid getting overwhelmed by the vast number of option.
The Badii Palace
The palace was constructed over 25 years in the 1500s by Sultan Ahmed El-Mansour. It is in relative ruin today, but remnants of its grandeur remain. You can feel the history alive within the walls. In it's glory days, the walls and ceilings were leafed in gold, the inner court housed a massive pool complete with fountains and a large island.
Whether you're looking for the full experience of a spa resort or simply want to experience a traditional hammam, you'll find what you're looking for in Marrakesh. Hammam is the Moroccan equivalent of a Turkish Bath. It is a multi-step process that includes moving through a series of saunas, hot pools and cold pools. You'll leave feeling relaxed and invigorated. For a variety of spa treatments, visit some of the luxury retreats located outside the Medina, many norwest of the city in the Palmeraie, a literal palm grove oasis, outside the city.