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Marrakech…An Oasis in the Sahara Desert

Marrakesh is an explosion of the senses with sights, sounds, smells and textures! From the spices, and incense to the colors adorning the streets, this lively city is exactly the revival I need.

Sensory charging station!

Marrakech is one of four imperial cities in the North African country of Morocco. Throughout history, this sought after city has been ruled by many. It was founded in 1070 as the capital of the Almoravid empire and has since been captured by the Marinids, the Saadian, the Alawite, and the French. This vibrant metropolis has been called “the red city” because of the sandstone used to build the ancient walls. The architecture of Marrakech is uniquely influenced by West Africa and Sahara, although some of the more modern buildings display influences of France and Italy.

There is a lot to do, see, smell and taste in the red city. Some of my favourite places to experience Moroccan culture in Marrakech are:

  • Koutoubia Mosque – This is the tallest building in Marrakech and can be seen from just about anywhere in the city. It was built in the 12th century by the Almohad dynasty and is a beautiful example of Moorish architecture.
  • El Badii Palace – Once a lavish palace made of gold, Italian marble and onyx, containing over 350 rooms and a large pool, this rich piece of history is now mostly ruins. It was built around the year 1593 with ransom money from “The War of Three Kings” and is now a popular attraction to tour.
  • Bahia Palace – Much younger and better preserved than El Badii, this palace has 150 rooms and was built in the late 1860’s. It is one of the most gorgeous historical sites in Marrakech and has hosted the Marrakech arts festival otherwise known as the Marrakech Biennale.
  • Gardens: Scattered in the bustling “red city”, hidden gardens offer a peaceful oasis to wander and enjoy some fresh air. Some of the best gardens to visit include: Menara Gardens, Jardin Majorelle, Cyber Park and Le Jardin Secret.

The skies are beautifully blue around the Mosque!

  • Marrakech medina or Old City – Within the walls of this medina, you will find maze-like walls occupied with souks selling spices, argon oil and leather goods, hammams, and the famous Jemaa El-Fnaa Square: a marketplace by day and performance center by night.

Marrakesh  is colourful and exotic

  • Visit a Museum: There are multiple museums in Marrakech. They cover all different genres from the Yves Saint Laurent Museum dedicated to the fashion designer, to Musee Tiskiwin, all about the history of trade in Marrakech.

Here’s a Pro-Tip: Take a day trip to The Atlas Mountains. You can jump in a taxi stationed near the Jemaa El-Fnaa Square. It is about a 90-minute drive with plenty of scenic stops along the way.

The mountains aren’t the only place for lovely views. Nomad and Terrasse des Epices are rooftop restaurants serving delicious modern Moroccan food made with fresh local produce. Le Jardin is another open-aired dining experience serving Moroccan cuisine with a French twist. For some of the best tagine, try Dar Zellij or Café des Epices. There are also plenty of amazing cafes, like Café Arabe, to enjoy traditional mint tea and the iconic chebakia pastry.

Authentic Moroccan tagine. Yum!

When you arrive to Marrakech’s Menra Airport, you may catch the bus, taxi, or private airport transfer into town. The bus departs every 30 minutes from the terminal building. Taxis are quicker and only a bit more expensive than the bus. There are no fixed taxi prices, so make sure you negotiate the price before your ride. Private airport transfers can be arranged in advance from your hotel. Once in the city, the best way to travel is by foot! Taxis, hop-on/hop-off buses, tourist and public buses are also available. There is a lot to see, so take your time and enjoy the city!

Prepare to live like royalty!

Prepare your camera, because Marrakech has some seriously aesthetic accommodation. Although they can be pricey, Riads are traditional Moroccan palaces modernized and used as hotels or apartments. Some of my favorites are Riad Kasbah, and Riad le Clos des Artes. There are also many other hotel options such as the Marriott owned Le Méridien N’Fis and La Mamounia. My favourite, La Mamounia is a beautiful palace-hotel with a rich history, art and culture.

When you’re ready for a drink, make your way to Barometre. They truly offer the taste of Marrakech by infusing their spirits with local spices. If you’re looking to dance, Comptoir Darna or Nikki Beach are great options. Nikki Beach offers a plethora of bars and restaurants and has swimming pools for cooling off. For a dazzling night and jazzy atmosphere, Le Bar Churchill is the place to be!

There are souks around every corner in Marrakech! You will be able to find everything from oriental rugs to fresh fruits and vegetables. Watch for good deals and always question vendors until you know you have the right article and a good deal.

 

Love,

 

Isabella

Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: El Badii Palace, Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech Medina (https://www.visitmorocco.com/en/travel/marrakech)

Where to stay: Riad Kasbah, Riad le Clos des Artes, La Mamounia (http://www.riad-kasbah-marrakech.com/en/, https://www.leclosdesarts.com/, https://www.mamounia.com/en/)

Where to party: Comptoir Darna, (http://uk.comptoirmarrakech.com/)

Where to eat: Nomad, Le Jardin, Dar Zellij (https://nomadmarrakech.com/, https://lejardinmarrakech.com/, https://marrakech-riads.com/en/)

What to buy:Mint tea, leather goods, Argon oil from souks

Stimulate your senses in Marrakech!
Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: El Badii Palace, Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech Medina (https://www.visitmorocco.com/en/travel/marrakech)

Where to stay: Riad Kasbah, Riad le Clos des Artes, La Mamounia (http://www.riad-kasbah-marrakech.com/en/, https://www.leclosdesarts.com/, https://www.mamounia.com/en/)

Where to party: Comptoir Darna, (http://uk.comptoirmarrakech.com/)

Where to eat: Nomad, Le Jardin, Dar Zellij (https://nomadmarrakech.com/, https://lejardinmarrakech.com/, https://marrakech-riads.com/en/)

What to buy:Mint tea, leather goods, Argon oil from souks

Stimulate your senses in Marrakech!

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