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Introduction to Marrakech

Menara, MarrakechMarrakech is the former capital of Morocco and is famed for its markets and festivals. It is sited at the foot of the snowy High Atlas Mountains, about 100 km from Casablanca.

Founded around 1062 by the Berber Almoravids, Marrakech soon became the capital of an Islamic empire that reached from central Spain to West Africa and exists today as unique cultural melting pot.

Fruit Stand at Djema el_FnaAt the heart of Marrakech is the Place Djemaa el-Fna, a huge square in the old city (Medina). The souqs (markets) there are reputed to be among the best in Morocco, and visitors can bargain for anything from water mugs and dates to exotic Moroccan carpets.

Other attractions of the old city include:

  • the rare Almoravid-style Koubba Ba'adiyn mosque annex, which embodies Moroccan architecture through its use of palms, pine cones, window shape, and dome with an octagonal support;
  • the magnificent Koutoubia mosque which took its name from the Arabic word for book, koutoub, and was built in the early 12th century,
  • the Palais Dar Si Said (Museum of Moroccan Arts), which has an excellent selection of exhibits from all over the country, including jewelry, carpets, and pottery.

Caleche in MarrakechCalèche (canopied horse-drawn carriages) are a popular way to explore thecity. Calèche hold four to five people and cost approximately 60 dirham per hour.