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Marrakesh: Touring "The Red City"

Jun 15, 2008
Marrakesh is the capital of the Marrakesh-Tensift-El Haouz region in Morocco. The building of Marrakesh began in 1070 by the Almoravid leader, Abu Bakr Ibn Umar. It is now the fourth largest city in Morocco. Marrakesh has quite a diverse population with over 10% of its population being an international community of mainly Europeans.

Marrakesh has two cities that stand side by side the old fortified city (medina) and the modern city. It boasts the biggest traditional market in Morroco and the largest and busiest square in Africa. Visitors to Marrakesh should not miss visiting this large square, known as Djemma El Fna. The square is situated in the heart of the old city and here you will find storytellers, musicians and dancers. Many shows take place in the square during the day, but you will be expected to pay some Dirhams for the opportunity to watch them. You will see snake charmers, men with monkeys and many other sights. There is a large array of stalls where you can buy a large variety of items.

Koutoubia Mosque is situated near the Djemma El Fna. The mosques minaret is said to be to Marrakesh as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris so it is definitely worth a visit. The Saadian Tombs have been amazingly preserved as they were only discovered in the early 20th century. Here you will find an example of how the tombs were in their glory days and you will be able to see stunning examples of Moroccan tiles and other decorations. You will also find the tombs of some Jews and Christians and it is interesting to note the different ways that these were demarcated and the different direction that these tombs face.

The El Badi Palace has been destroyed, however there are some underground passageways that visitors are able to explore and it boasts a fantastic view from the terrace. The El Bahia Palace belonged to a nobleman in 19th century Morocco. It is beautifully and ornately decorated. You can organize a guided tour to take you around the building and grounds of this palace. Set in an old palace, the Musee Dar si Said houses many artifacts from Morocco's history. If you are looking for a break from the bustle of the city, the Majorelle Gardens are an excellent choice. They contain plants from around the world as well as the Museum of Islamic Art.

There are a number of options for accommodation in Marrakesh. There are also three main areas where you can find accommodation so you need to decide your budget and where you would like to be. The Medina contains mostly cheap hotels, youth hostels, backpacker hostels and ryads. Ryads are old grand houses that have been converted to hotels and inns. Gueliz contains many mid-range priced hotels that often offer breakfast and showers in the rooms. The areas surrounding the city are where you will find the large tourist hotels. They may be far out of the city itself, but they will offer all of the amenities that will make your stay more comfortable.
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