Thursday, May 13, 2010

Top 10 Cities in the World - 9 Marrakech


Marrakech is both ancient and exotic. If you are prepared for the fact that Marrakechis have 101 ways to relieve foreigners of their money, you can begin to enjoy the sights and sounds of 'The Pink City".

Marrakech was founded nearly a thousand years ago by Youssef ben Tachfine, the first leader of the great Almoravid dynasty, who conquered southern Spain for the Moors. His son, Ali ben Youssef, brought in the best architects and craftsmen from Cordoba to build a great capital city for his empire. In 1126 the city was fortified with walls around it. Then, between 1150 and 1199 the Koutoubia mosque, which you can see in the first photo, was built.

At the heart of the Old City is one of the biggest squares in the world, Djemaa el Fnaa, which although it means Assembly of the Dead in Arabic, is full of life, especially after sunset, when it has hundreds of food stalls, lit by lanterns, fresh orange juice sellers, musicians, dancers, acrobats, magicians, fortune tellers, henna artists and snake charmers, all plying their trades. Wander off the square and you will disappear into a maze of souqs.

It is a city that is not always easy on the eye, the ear or the pocket. No matter how well you speak French or Arabic, and no matter what that friendly carpet seller, who treats you like a long-lost brother, tells you, you will always be an outsider in Marrakech. When I pointed to the meter in a taxi, the driver shrugged, took another drag on his cigarette, and replied, as the smoke drifted past his No Smoking sign, "That's for local people". But, perhaps the fact that you will never feel at home in Marrakech, is what makes it so exotic.

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  1. You can visit the Majorelle garden!!!

  2. Sounds good !

    ps : for the bear... I saw monsters more frightening... ;)

  3. Exotic can be ex$pensive!

  4. I went very quickly to Marrakech when doing the trip by car from France to Africa, So I couldn't enjoy this city as much as I would have like. My sister felt in love with Marrakech and goes there as often as she can.
    Again I love your pictures! The sixth one is impressing, what is it?

  5. It's a wooden ceiling in the Bahia Palace. A trip to Africa by car sounds fun. Was that the Paris-Dakar rally?


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