42ºC / 107ºF
One of the main cities in Morocco, Marrakech seems to be an amalgamation of everything that makes the country a great holiday destination. Sheltered by the breathtaking peaks of the Atlas Mountains and within reach of both the vast Sahara Desert as well as the scenic coastal cities of Agadir and Essaouira, Marrakech offers an overabundance of activities and sights within its city limits as well as beyond.
The city is divided into the old town, known as the Medina, and the new town to the west, Gueliz, and both parts hold numerous things to experience. Visit one of Africa’s busiest squares, Jemaa el-Fna, early in the morning, while the sun is slowly rising over the red-painted houses. A market square has existed here for almost 1,000 years and among the bustling stalls, you can find literally everything. See the beautiful architecture and colours of the Dar Si Said, the Riad Dar Najat and the Palais de la Bahia in the Old Town, marvel at the towering minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, and then explore the wealth of little shops in the old Jewish quarter of Mellah. The heart and the life of Marrakech are found in its warren of souks. The main one of these is the Souk Semmarine, from which lots of smaller markets and streets spring. Smell the spices, the leatherwear, see the colours and feel the fabric, and once you’ve found something of interest, prepare to haggle. Also, for local handcraft and artwork, visit the Souk Cheferia, where various artists display and sell their creations.
After braving the bustle of the souks, head to the Jardin Majorelle for an urban oasis. A park sprawling with colours, the shade of the exotic plants and trees will provide a much needed escape from the onslaught of the sun. Marrakech opens up its welcoming arms wherever you find yourself in the city. History and culture flows through the streets. From the Saaidian Tombs in the south to the Matisse Art Gallery in the Gueliz area, there is something for everyone in this vivacious Northern African gem. At the end of a long day of exploring, wash down your experiences with a glass of Moroccan tea, or fill your stomach with copious amounts of tagine and delicious couscous.
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