Vibrant colours, tantalising smells and sensational tastes. When it comes to destinations described as being a real 'feast for the senses', Marrakesh tops the list every time.
From the sights and smells of the bustling souks to the laid back atmosphere amid the city's deeply ingrained café culture, Marrakesh is absolutely brimming with personality. The locals are friendly, the food is superb and there is plenty in the way of things to do. What more could you ask for? Well, fascinating rich history and incredible architecture are also thrown in for good measure. Amateur photographers will also find themselves extremely well catered for. From the city's wealth of enchanting architecture to street scenes featuring everyday life, Marrakesh holidays provide plenty of opportunities to capture beautiful snaps to treasure forever.
The city traces its origins to the Berber Sanhaja tribe, founders of the 11th century Almoravid dynasty. Leader Youssef Ben Tachfine took notice of the area's strategic position and, after setting up a camp there, made the decision to construct ramparts around the outside. The settlement's iconic pink architecture would later follow. After a series of campaigns that led to the control of the entire region of Andalusia, the city became the heart of a powerful empire. Much of the city's history can still be viewed today, with structures and buildings stretching back over centuries visible on Marrakesh tours. From the winding streets of the Medina to the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque, it's very easy to find yourself transported back in time while on a visit to this extraordinary city.
In the unlikely case that the city's history fails to impress, the stunning craftsmanship on display at almost every turn is sure to do the job. From intricately-detailed painted ceilings and perfectly-carved wood to colourful tiles and lavish marble, the city's deep artisanal heritage is impossible to miss. Simply strolling through one of the souks or popping into one of the city's many riads provides the chance to be awe struck by the level of meticulous design and handiwork that still exists here today.
The first stop on most Marrakesh tours is the city's sprawling medina, and for good reason. This lively area is the city's beating heart, with a never ending list of new sights, smells, and sounds to experience. Here amid the enigmatic narrow winding streets and the world famous souks you'll see everything from twinkling lamps to sheep heads. Shopping enthusiasts will find the medina something of a paradise. Whether you want to stock up on spices or treat yourself to beautifully made furnishings, you'll be spoilt for choice. Alongside the souks you'll also find a great range of chic boutiques, perfect for getting a taste for the local fashions or sampling plush beauty products. In the centre of the medina sits Jemaa el Fna, a market square with a long history of being a gathering place for locals to enjoy entertainment in the form of musicians, acrobats, and poets well past the sunset.
Another unique attraction for Marrakesh holidays is the chance to experience an authentic hammam. Public baths have a long tradition in Morocco, once being the only way for the locals to freshen up. Times may have moved on, but the hammam is still very much part of everyday life in the city, with most locals heading there once a week to enjoy a soak, as well as beauty treatments in the more modern venues. If it's relaxation you're craving, you'll also want to stop by one of the city's beach clubs. With swimming pools, restaurants and a generally laid back atmosphere, they make a wonderful destination for a bit of respite from the bustling city. On that note, there are a number of great day trips within easy reach of Marrakesh, including visits to Berber villages located in the High Atlas, Ouzoud Falls and the Ourika Valley. There's also the breathtaking Ait Benhaddou, a fortified village that has been featured in a number of Hollywood films.
For lovers of history and culture, Marrakesh trips have a magnitude of sights and attractions to offer. One of the best known is the Koutoubia Mosque. Completed in 1158, it is the city's most iconic mosque, as well as being its tallest building. Elsewhere, the 12th century Menara Gardens make a serene spot to wander through. Complete with olive groves and a pool full of carp, they're also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruined El Badi Palace is another important historical sight, which hints at the incredible grandeur that was once on display inside this 300-room home dating back to the 16th century. The Marrakesh Museum, meanwhile, offers the chance to explore a variety of historical weapons, pottery and other artefacts, all housed in the spectacular Dar Menebhi Palace.
Marrakesh holidays also provide plenty of tantalising new experiences in the form of local cuisine. While there are plenty of international restaurants to choose from, including a plethora of chic French-style bistros, the chance to sample traditional Moroccan flavours definitely shouldn't be passed up. Perhaps the most well known of these dishes is the tanjia, or tagine. Usually made from beef or lamb, this delicious stew is traditionally cooked in a large terracotta jug - historically this was brought with locals to the hammam where it would be heated slowly on the bath's furnace. Whether you opt to try the dish in an upscale eatery or from a market stall, it's sure to be a hit with your taste buds.
Other equally tempting local dishes include chicken b’stilla; a slightly sweet chicken pie made using filo-style pastry, and ma’qooda; a potato fritter dipped in egg and fried, while for the more adventurous there's sheep's head or snail soup. No Marrakesh tours would be complete without discovering the local street food scene, and you'll find everything from spicy sausage to kebabs served up every lunch time. Another staple of the Moroccan diet is mint tea. Made with fresh mint, black tea leaves, and plenty of sugar, it makes a perfect pick-me-up following a full day of sightseeing.
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