Marrakesh gave the name to the country of Morocco.

The biggest mountain range of the African continent can be found in the north section of the Atlas. It’s one of the most symbolic capitals of the Old Moroccan Empire.

Fernando Pessoa depicted the first impression he had of the city: “At first, it’s unfamiliar, then it strikes roots”. It has been totally ingrained in me… I do confess. I’m absolutely in love with this city. Let’s know more about it.

History

The city of Marrakesh was found in 1062 by the Almoravids of the Sahara Desert. These were monk-warriors from the Sahara Desert. They built several mosques and madrassas, turning Marrakesh into an important trade post.

Craftsmen from the cities of Córdoba and Seville were hired to ornament several places, the wall was built around the city and a system comprised of underground irrigation canals was installed. At the time, the Ben Youssef Mosque, Marrakesh’s first, was built.

The wall, which still exists nowadays, has a 19-kilometer perimeter, is roughly 2 meters wide and up to 9 meters high. Its color is a reddish one, just like the rest of city. The wall has more than a dozen doors, with Bab Agnou being one of the most gorgeous. Its name derives from the Berber, meaning “hornless black sheep” and the façade is just immense.

In the year of 1147, Marrakesh was conquered by the Almohads, a religious and military force of Berber origin. This period marked the construction of the Koutoubia mosque, a representative masterpiece of the Moorish architecture. Its 70-meter-high minaret that inspired Seville’s Giralda and Rabat’s Hassan Tower.

In the 16th century, after a stagnant period, Marrakesh was refreshed with the arrival of the Saadi. Their tombstones are one the primary examples of what the true Islamic art is. From this golden period, one can also find the Ben Youssef madrasa (a Quran school) and the sumptuous el-Badi Palace.

Closer to our century, and after having already surpassed several conflicts, the city embraced modernity with the construction of the gracious Gueliz quarter. Getting to know this new area may be interesting, but the most fascinating, without any sort of doubt, is the walled old city. It’s the medina.

It was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

Inside the medina itself, you can get to know the Koutoubia and the Kasbah mosques, the stunning Jemaa el-Fna square, the several souks (markets) and the mellah (Jewish quarter).

The souks are organized according to the sort of products they sell. There are those with instruments and strings, jars, those that sell brass and copper, metal, those dedicated to wickerwork and wood, the ones with slippers and belts, jewels, not to mention the souks with leather goods, mats, goatskin and those packed with dyers.

When visiting Marrakech, calmly stroll, at the end of the day, along the medina’s reddish wall. The color is more beautiful during that time of the day.

Then, step inside the medina itself and, with proper time to do so, roam through its labyrinthine streets. It’s a unique experience. Smells, odors, colors, it’s a true sensorial experience. Bargain and do some shopping. Take advantage of being in such an ancient place, with so much history and traditions.

After that, perceive the place where most people are moving to and follow them. They are heading to Jemaa el-Fna. (You can always check Koutoubia, located right next to it, which is an excellent point of reference).

Pick one of those restaurants or cafes from where you can have a view over the square and get marveled by such a wonderful display. Check how its motion changes, as the day moves on.

This square is one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been to. It will be the next story…