Filled with mystery, magic and time-honoured myths, the city of Marrakech is thrilling with every step taken and surprising with every corner turned. If you’re curious about the colours, smells, sounds and sights of the Moroccan heart and capital, here are 12 must-see places during your visit to magical Marrakech.
1. Jemaa El Fna
Jemaa El Fna, in the city’s Medina quarter is famously known as Marrakech’s main square; bustling with hawkers and snake charmers in the day and alive with the bright lights of the night market in the evening.
The beautiful and elegant Jardin Marjorelle is in the heart of the city. To get away from the crazy crowds of the markets, take a timeout in this peaceful garden which took painter and artist Jacques Majorelle over 40 years to design.
3. Saadian Tombs
Visit the Saadian Tombs, where no expense was spared for the 60 members of Saadi Dynasty. Dating back to the 1500s, these opulently decorated tombs were discovered and restored in 1917.
4. Atlas Mountains
Feel a million miles away from the loud streets of the city with a tour of the Atlas Mountains. You can hike or take a camel ride to Low Atlas, Mid Atlas or right to the peak of Toubkal National Park in High Atlas.
5. Marrakech railway station
It’s an architectural work of art and a must-see building for anyone interested in colonial history. Built during the French protectorate in the 1920s, the building is just simply spectacular. You can also catch direct trains to Casablanca and Fez.
6. Koutoubia Mosque
Koutoubia Mosque is located close to the Jemaa El Fna and is famed for its beautiful turret, which is one of the 3 Almohad minarets remaining in the world. This culturally and historically significant building overlooks the main square and can be seen from many rooftop cafes of the city.
7. Agdal Gardens
Cited as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Agdal Gardens stretches over 400 hectares outside the Royal Palace. This 12th Century orchard features orange groves, apricot groves, lemon trees, pomegranate trees and fig trees; a colourful and significant addition to the magical city.
8. Marrakech tannery
The tanneries of Marrakech are known for their interesting smells and colours. Although some find the smell to be too pungent, just watching the process of leather making is extremely interesting and well worth a visit if you’re in the city.
For just 12 Dirham (around 3 Euros), you can tour this beautifully restored 17th Century apartment. This petite museum building can be found along Derb El Hammam and is open from Saturday to Thursday every week.
10. El Badi Palace
Head to the ruins of the El Badi Palace to soak up the magical architecture. Commissioned by a sultan in the 1500s, the entire palace is said to be funded by ransom money after the notorious Battle of the Three Kings against the Portuguese.
11. Souk Semmarine
No trip to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the wonderful souks. The best known of the souks is Souk Semmarine; a covered alleyway filled with fabrics, pottery, trinkets, and little patisseries.
12. Souk Smata
For clothing, shoes and accessories, a shopping trip to Souk Smata is a must. Even if you’re not looking to buy, it’s a superb place for photography. The colours are spectacular here and you will find everything from traditional Berber clothing, bright fabrics and sequined shoes to handmade leather bags and craft jewellery.
Christos Hajipapas is Head of Business Development & Strategy at Cyplon Holidays.