This time last week I’d just spent my first full day in a city I’d been dying to see for years: Marrakech.
The Moroccan capital has enticed me ever since I moved to and began to discover the captivating history of Granada, Spain, and was a must-see on my travel hit list for my 30th year published last month.
Granada’s magnificent Alhambra Palace was built by the Moors, who in the 9th century crossed the Mediterranean to take control of Spain’s Andalucia region and forever leave their mark. The kingdom they came from spanned most of North Africa, within which Marrakech was a major stronghold.
After 800 years of rule the Christians retook the city of Granada and inevitably replaced a lot of the Moorish buildings and traditions with their own. So essentially, I was expecting to find what Granada might have looked like all those years ago.
Let’s just say I was very satisfied.
Marrakech is divided into two parts: the new city and the Medina. The new city is pretty uninspiring from a traveler’s point of view; unless you like elaborate shopping malls and kitschy nightclubs. The Medina is where all the magic happens.
From the hectic and maze-like souks, where aromatic spice stalls, leather-makers and incredible arts and crafts abound, to the bustling central plaza Jemaa el-Fna and staggering landmarks including the Koutoubia Mosque, Saadian Tombs and Bahia Palace; there is literally so much to see in the Medina.
Fortunately, this is where we (my sister and I) stayed for 3 nights. Our Riad was absolutely beautiful (see last photo in this post), complete with idyllic fountain, terrace and a traditional Hammam where I would later indulge in an hour-long Hammam scrub and massage (more on that next time). We couldn’t believe that we’d got that plus flights from Manchester and airport transfers for just £175 pp with Easyjet Holidays!
We packed a lot in those 3 days. Apart from the Medina, we saw the Jardin Majorelle, toured the Atlas mountains and the four valleys Ourika, Oukaimeden, Ait Fares and Asni, visited two Berber communities and enjoyed a bespoke food tour which involved eating SHEEP’S HEAD.
There will, of course, be plenty of posts and stories to come but for now I’ll leave you with 25 teasers that may just inspire you to book the next cheap flight to Marrakech available. Enjoy!
Are you fascinated by Moorish history and culture? Been to Marrakech? Is it on your list? Share in the comments!
Exploring the maze-like Souks of the Medina – capturing people going about their daily business..
One of a thousand shadowy alleyways which are sure to lead you into chaos and confusion.
Hand-stitched rugs and cushions from Berber villages outside of the city are sold on in the Medina.
Some stalls sell everything from teas and spices to quirky baskets and leather ‘poofs’ for your living room.
Lamps are popular souvenirs to take home.
Traditional Moroccan tagine pots used for preparing and serving delicious, slow-cooked meals.
Cumin, cinnamon, paprika, safron, harissa… you name the spice, they’ve got it.
Plaz Jemaa el-Fnaa, the beating heart of the Medina where you can haggle to your heart’s content.
Traditional Moroccan mint tea. Best served with sugar, on a shady terrace in Plaz Jemaa el-Fna.
Typical tile flooring in the Bahia Palace. Each tile is carved and chipped by hand.
The Ben Youssef Madrasa was an Islamic college in Morocco, once the largest in North Africa.
Hand-painted tiles in the courtyard of the Ben Youssef, where a National Geographic award winning photo was taken in 2015.
Wooden, hand-carved archways and ceramic, hand-painted tiles at the beautiful Bahia Palace.
The Souks at dusk, bustling like always.
This guy never runs out of stock. Olives grow in abundance and vary in flavour in Morocco.
Leather bags, belts, jackets, wallets and purses are sold everywhere in the Medina – price is highly negotiable.
Time for something sweet…
The towering Koutoubia Mosque by night.
…and by day.
Lovely, fresh and zingy warm goat’s cheese salad with wrapped marinated chicken.
The blue house of the Jardin Majorelle.
The beautiful courtyard of our riad, Riad Karmela.