Everywhere you look, you’ll see craftsmanship and artisan touches in Marrakech. From the intricately tiled floors, doors, ceilings and walls to the fine filigree of the handmade lanterns, there is a deep-rooted cultural pride in turning everyday objects into works of art. Drawing influences from all over the world as well as its own mixed heritage, visitors to Marrakech will be able to spot the chic silhouettes of French design, the vibrant colours of Spanish art and the stunning patterns of Arabic tradition influencing every design and product available here.
Packed with a number of complexes, monuments and other fascinating historical artifacts, Marrakech is an excellent destination for those in want of a culture boost. Palaces, temples, tombs and mosques are scattered picturesquely across the area. Each of these attractions is a pocket of relative serenity, where visitors can enjoy a quick recharge from the hectic pace of the medina and inner-city atmosphere, whilst also learning a little more about the fascinating culture of Morocco.
An open-air shopping centre that’s packed with everything from corner cafes and souvenir shops to spice stalls and shoe shops. Visiting the souks and engaging in some friendly haggling or people watching is all part of the way of life here. Make friends over a cup of mint tea or rich Kahwa (coffee) in the marketplace’s corner shops and revel in the frenetic atmosphere of it all.
With typical French flamboyance and flare, designer Yves Saint Laurent wasn’t content with merely gifting Marrakech a bunch of flowers when the city adopted him in 1966. He and his partner Pierre Berge decided to give the city an entire garden of them. By buying the house and garden of the famous landscape painter Jacques Majorelle who began to cultivate his vision of a public garden in 1924, Laurent and Berger were able to preserve and add to this charming area, opening it to the public as an awe inspiring and tranquil escape from the daily grind of Marrakech. Visitors will find a mind-bending display of more than 300 species of flora from all over the world.
Contained within high, pastel pink walls, the Medina of Marrakech is the mother of all shopping experiences in Morocco. Made up of 19 kilometres of individual souks all melding and merging into one great marketplace, visitors will find the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker all in residence here, alongside hundreds of other traders and craftsmen. Perhaps the American band Crosby, Stills and Nash best captured the feel of the Marrakech medina with the lines, ‘Through clear Moroccan skies / Ducks and pigs and chickens call / Animal carpet wall to wall’. There’s a sense of vastness and yet also a maddening muddle of crowds and noise that is exhilarating and nerve-wracking in equal measures. It’s advised that you get rid of your maps here; you’ve entered the labyrinth and there’s nothing for it but to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the madness and confusion.
The ultimate king of after-life pomp and ceremony, the Saadian Tombs of Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour Ed Dahbi are a magnificent sight to behold. Clearly not one to believe in the idea that you can’t take your riches with you when you die, there was no expense spared on the opulently crafted mausoleum with imported Italian marble, decorative plasterwork and real gold pillars. While a few lucky sons and advisors were permitted to be buried in the mausoleum, Al Mansours wives, other children and chancellors were merely given garden plots. With all this factionalism and the aesthetics of the tombs in its favour, visitors should not miss out on a tour of this focal cultural landmark.
Nothing short of an all-year-round holiday destination, Morocco enjoys incredibly hot summers, pleasant winters and comfortably hot springs and autumns. Rainfall is constantly low throughout the year and the days are warm and the nights are relatively cooler. The spring months (March through to May) are the best times to visit whereby the days are hot, but not overwhelming.
You will not need a visa to enter Morocco if you are a British citizen, unless you are planning a holiday lasting more than 90 days. For the latest information on travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/morocco/entry-requirements.
The currency used is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD).
In Marrakech, the language spoken is Arabic