Discover truly Marrakesh
20.03.2007 -17 °C
Marrakech Museum: Musée de Marrakech
Even without the interesting displays the museum would be well worth a look as it's contained in beautiful 19th century Mnebhi Palace, complete with fountains in the covered courtyard and colourful tiled zellij mosaics on the walls. The golden colour scheme and glass dome roof make it distinctive from most other riads. After independence the palace became Marrakech's first school for girls and only became a museum in 1997. Displays of paintings, photos, textiles and other artworks are housed in halls leading off from the central courtyard. The old hammam (baths) and kitchen are also used for exhibitions. If you're tired after a long day sightseeing then this is a wonderfully relaxed and cool place to chill out and you can slump into the big comfy chairs and watch a video about the city. There's also a very nice terrace cafe and a souvenir shop with some great books.
Mederssa Ben Youssef: Ali Ben Youssef Medersa
This was the largest theological college in the entire Mahgreb, hosting up to a thousand students at a time. Built by the Saadians in the 16th century, it's pretty much intact although it did undergo some 1960's renovations. Thankfully, Moroccan 60's designers didn't have the same ideas as those in Britain so there's no grey concrete in sight! There's a beautiful huge courtyard in the centre, complete with tiled pool and Qu'ranic verses intricately carved into the walls and pillars. The student 'cells' have their own mini-courtyards surrounding the main centre and you're free to wander around. If you've read my other tips you'll know that I find these old buildings extraordinarily beautiful and relaxing - and this is one of the best. Ali ben Youssef was a 12th century Almoravid sultan and he obviously made a big impression as there's also a mosque named after him.
Majorelle Gardens: the nicest garden of Marrakech
Majorelle Garden is an oasis of calm and cool, fresh air in the heart of the city of Marrakech. The garden was created in the years 1920 by the French painter Jacques Majorelle. It made there plant the rarest essences around a small building Art deco which was used to him as workshop until its death in 1962. After his dead, the garden and the studio were completely abandoned. But thanks to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, its new owners, this beautiful garden has a new lease on life. It is so nice that you could stay there hours, sitting on a bank, smelling the various essences of flowers, trees, admiring the flashy blue of the house, ... and trying to capture all that with your camera!!!!
Menara Gardens: Ah, the tranquil beauty of the...
Ah, the tranquil beauty of the La Menara. And here's a glimpse of the Pavilion.
A famous image of Marrakesh. Located a bit outside the city (may be 2km from the Koutoubia), this is the perfect place to escape noisy Marrakesh for a while, a pleasant place to have a walk in the evenings to see the sunset.. The gardens are planted with palm and olive trees and behind the pavilion, there is an artificial lake which is used to irrigate the surrounding gardens
Koutoubia Minaret & Koutoubia Gardens: Koutoubia Mosque
Who says size doesn't matter? The Koutoubia is far and away the largest and most prestigious mosque in Marrakech. Many say it's the most important in the whole of the Mahgreb. At 70 metres tall the minaret dominates much of the city skyline and can come in very useful if you get lost in the maze of the Medina! At night it's illuminated and towers above the smoke filled air of Djemaa el Fna. It's a great place for evening people watching, especially from the ice cream parlour across the road! Like nearly all mosques in Marrakech, it's closed to non-Muslims. But it's definitely worth a good walk round. It was built by the Almohads in the 12th century and remains in perfect condition, although the zellij tiles that decorated the walls are no longer there. Unusually, each face of the minaret is of a different design. If you know a little Arabic you'll see the name is derivative of 'books' - the mosque was built close to an old booksellers' market. There are also some very nice morrocan gardens with all kinds of roses and trees which are well worth seeing.
El Bahia Palace: Bahia Palace
The Bahia Palace, built in the late 19th century, is a superb example of Moroccan-Islamic architecture. The layout of the complex, with its courtyards and mazes of rooms, is typical of the style. The palace has been well restored and maintained, and its gorgeous tiles and carvings are quite impressive.
Ourika Valley. Valley of flushing water
The Ourika Valley is an attractive string of villages along a river carriying the same name. The landscape is fresh and green, and in summer a popular destination when Marrakech is boiling. At the village, souk tnine de l’ourika, the breathtaking views of Berber villages and landscapes begin. There is a great Monday souk at this roadside village. Here you may find the hairdresser, potter, butcher, fish merchant, ironworker, breeders. They each come down from the mountain to sell their production and to buy products for the week.
The Ourika Valley starts about 30 km south of Marrakech, and the tarmac road will slowly bring you 37 km into the valley until you reach Setti Fatma, famous for its seven waterfalls. The higher waterfalls can be difficult to climb, and especially to come down. Wear good foot-wear!
The main attraction of Aghbalou must be the brick mosque, a rare change from the standard mosque in Morocco. It has an appearance which resembles more a church.
But since Aghbalou is the largest village along the Oued Ourika, it is also a popular place to stop en route. A popular place to pass an hour or two is the nice café along the river. Extremely basic, with an ueven ground, but the food is surprisingly good.
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