Top 5 Spots for Perfect Weekend in Marrakesh
Known as the "Red City" thanks to the red sandstone walls and buildings within, Marrakesh is a treasure trove of history, exotic sights and rich culture. Though the city has risen and fallen many times throughout Morocco's history, today it stands as an economic and cultural hub.
Marrakesh can be divided into the old section dating back to 1062, the Medina, and newer neighborhoods, like Gueliz and Hivernage. But thanks to its intimate size, you don't need to take off an entire week to explore Marrakesh. In fact, you can easily enjoy the city's mosques, souks and squares in one beautiful weekend.
1. The Medina
One of the biggest attractions in Marrakesh, the Medina is a winding maze of homes, vendors and stories. Visitors flock here for stunning photos, to snag a deal on crafts or to dive deeper into Moroccan life. The main streets are home to plenty of vendors and restaurants, while the side streets offer a quiet sneak peek into Marrakesh's residential life. Getting around the Medina is easy on foot, bicycle or donkey.
2. Jemaa el-Fnaa
The main square in Marrakesh attracts both locals and tourists on a daily basis. One can just as easily find local Marrakesh family enjoying a traditional dish of tagine here as they can become mesmerized by a musical performance. The name translates to "the assembly of the dead" thanks to the square's origins as a public execution theater in 1050 AD. Luckily, the public executions are long gone. Instead, visitors come to watch snake charmers, dancers and musicians work their magic after nightfall.
3. Koutoubia Mosque
The call to prayer resounds five times a day from Koutoubia Mosque, The Golden Mosque. Its name comes from the word kutubiyyin and refers to the booksellers that began popping up around the mosque in the 12th Century.
Today, the largest mosque in Marrakesh is also one of the largest tourist attractions. Architects flock here to get a glimpse of the Almohad minaret that is dramatically lit at night. Visitors can wander through the lush gardens and browse through the modern-day booksellers that still grace the mosque's courtyard. The most popular meeting spot in the city, many gather here for coffee or light snacks.
4. Spice Market
The markets of Marrakesh are so beautiful, they are often destinations unto themselves. The most fragrant and colorful is the spice souk. Large cones of turmeric, cumin and other aromatics sit atop weathered tables and make for the perfect backgrounds for photos. Visitors buy spices and teas by the bagful, like the local specialty Berber tea.
5. Jardin Majorelle
Originally built by painter Jacques Majorelle, Marrakesh's famous Majorelle gardens now draw thousands of tourists to its lush landscape each year. In 1966, the garden was first discovered and later purchased by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. It was subsequently gifted to the city of Marrakesh. Visitors can wander through the lush cactus gardens and duck into Laurent's electric blue mansion - now transformed into the Musée Berbère.
Marrakesh is one of the most exciting and exotic cities to explore. Thanks to its long history, there is plenty of culture and beauty to discover. Take a few days to inhale the scent of local spices, sink your teeth into tagine and swirl your hips to the sounds of local music.