Discover Marrakech city in depth with this full day guided city tour. Travel through time and explore art, culture and history.
From Jamaa El Fna to Koutobia Mosque, from small medina streets to souks, from Ben Youssef Medersa to Saadin Tombs and from Palais Bahia to Majorel Gardens. The city tour will be your best way to enjoy all hidden places in Marrakech in just one day.
The Koutoubia Mosque or Kutubiyya Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh. The mosque is also known by several other names, such as Jami' al-Kutubiyah, Kotoubia Mosque, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. It is located in the southwest medina quarter of Marrakesh. The mosque is ornamented with curved windows, a band of ceramic inlay, pointed merlons, and decorative arches; it has a large plaza with gardens, and is floodlit at night. The minaret, 77 metres (253 ft) in height, includes a spire and orbs. It was completed under the reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184 to 1199), and has inspired other buildings such as the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat.
The Saadian tombs in Marrakech date back from the time of the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603). The tombs were discovered in 1917 and were restored by the Beaux-arts service. The tombs have, because of the beauty of their decoration, been a major attraction for visitors of Marrakech.
The mausoleum comprises the interments of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty that originated in the valley of the Draa River. Among the graves are those of Ahmad al-Mansur and his family. The building is composed of three rooms. The most famous is the room with the twelve columns. This room contains the grave of the son of the sultan's son, Ahmad al-Mansur. The stele is in finely worked cedar wood and stucco work. The monuments are made of Italian Carrara marble.
El Badi Palace is a ruined palace located in Marrakesh. Commissioned by the Arab Saadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, sometime shortly after his accession in 1578, its construction was funded by a substantial ransom paid by the Portuguese after the Battle of the Three Kings. The palace is nowadays a well known tourist attraction.
The Bahia Palace is a palace and a set of gardens located in Marrakesh. It was built in the late 19th century, intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The name means 'brilliance'. As in other buildings of the period in other countries, it was intended to capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style. There is a 2 acre (8,000 m²) garden with rooms opening onto courtyards.
Set up at the end of 19th century by Si Moussa, grand vizier of the sultan, for his personal use, this palace would bear the name of one of his wives. Here, the harem, which includes a vast court decorated with a central basin and surrounded by rooms intended for the concubines. As the black slave Abu Ahmed rose to power and wealth towards the end of the 19th century, he had the Bahia palace built by bringing in craftsmen from Fez.
The Ben Youssef Madrasa was an Islamic college in Marrakesh, named after the Almoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (reigned 1106–1142), who expanded the city and its influence considerably. It is the largest Medrasa in all of Morocco.
The college was founded during the period of the Marinid (14th century) by the Marinid sultan Abu al-Hassan and allied to the neighbouring Ben Youssef Mosque. The building of the madrasa was re-constructed by the Saadian Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib (1557–1574). In 1565 the works ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib were finished, as confirmed by the inscription in the prayer room. Its 130 student dormitory cells cluster around a courtyard richly carved in cedar, marble and stucco. The carvings contain no representation of humans or animals as required by Islam, and consist entirely of inscriptions and geometric patterns. This madrasa was one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa and may have housed as many as 900 students. One of its best known teachers was Mohammed al-Ifrani (1670-1745).
Jamaa el Fna is a square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (old city). It remains the main square of Marrakesh, used by locals and tourists.
During the day it is predominantly occupied by orange juice stalls, water sellers with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, youths with chained Barbary apes and snake charmers despite the protected status of these species under Moroccan law.
As the day progresses, the entertainment on offer changes: the snake charmers depart, and late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with Chleuh dancing-boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), story-tellers (telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, to an audience of locals), magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines. As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food-stalls as the number of people on the square peaks.
The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, a traditional North African market catering both for the common daily needs of the locals, and for the tourist trade. On other sides are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter.
Marrakesh has the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco and the image of the city is closely associated with its souks. Paul Sullivan cites the souks as the principal shopping attraction in the city: 'A honeycomb of intricately connected alleyways, this fundamental section of the old city is a micro-medina in itself, comprising a dizzying number of stalls and shops that range from itsy kiosks no bigger than an elf's wardrobe to scruffy store-fronts that morph into glittering Aladdin's Caves once you're inside.' Historically the souks of Marrakesh were divided into retail areas for particular goods such as leather, carpets, metalwork and pottery. These divisions still roughly exist but with significant overlap. Many of the souks sell items like carpets and rugs, traditional Muslim attire, leather bags, and lanterns. Haggling is still a very important part of trade in the souks.
Tanning is the process of treating skins and hides of animals to produce leather, which is more durable and less susceptible to decomposition. Traditionally, tanning used tannin, an acidic chemical compound from which the tanning process draws its name (tannin is in turn named after an old German word for oak or fir trees, from which the compound was derived). Coloring may occur during tanning. A tannery is the term for a place where the skins are processed.
The Majorelle Garden is a twelve-acre botanical garden and artist's landscape garden in Marrakech. An archaeological museum, it contains the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech. The edifice was designed by the expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s.
The garden has been open to the public since 1947.Since 1980 the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. After Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden.
The old Jewish Quarter (Mellah) is situated in the kasbah area of the city's medina, east of Place des Ferblantiers. It was created in 1558 by the Saadians at the site where the sultan's stables were previously located. At the time, the Jewish community consisted of a large portion of the city's bankers, jewelers, metalworkers, tailors and sugar traders. During the 16th century, the Mellah had its own fountains, gardens, synagogues and souks. Until the arrival of the French in 1912, Jews could not own property outside of the Mellah; all growth was consequently contained within the limits of the neighborhood, resulting in narrow streets, small shops and higher residential buildings. The Mellah, today reconfigured as a mainly residential zone renamed Hay Essalam, currently occupies an area smaller than its historic limits and has an almost entirely Muslim population. The Alzama Synagogue, built around a central courtyard, is located in the Mellah. The Jewish cemetery here is the largest of its kind in Morocco. Characterized by white-washed tombs and sandy graves, the cemetery is located within the Medina on land adjacent to the Mellah.
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