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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some photos from my recent trip to the Morrocan city of Marrakech.

With around 1m inhabitants in the city and its suburbs, Marrakech is I think the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Fes and one of its leading tourism destinations attracting visitors to its walled Medina or Old City with traditional architecture souks plus the wide boulevards of the new Gueliz and Hivernage districts containing modern hotels, shopping and cafes, vibrant nightlife and partying venues.

After taking our flight, just under 4 hours with Easyjet from Manchester, UK, we arrived at dusk at Marrakech's modern Menara airport and were transferred by Hyundai People Carrier to our hotel just inside the walls of the Medina. More of the hotel later, it was an interesting building in itself, but after a good dinner and a night's sleep we set off to explore the Medina.

A couple of minutes walk from our base was the Djemma-el-fna, the vast central square that is the heart of Marrakech, linking the old and new parts of the city. The name of the square apparently means 'Assembly of the dead' as it used to host public executions, but now it is filled with traders, orange juice hawkers, tattooists, entertainers with monkeys and snakes and by night it fills up with numerous cheap street-food stalls.


2012-06-06-14-33-47_1000001084 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Next to the square is Kotoubia Mosque, no buildings in Marrakech are allowed to be built taller than the minaret which was completed in 1199 and stands at 69m tall. The design is copied by mosques all over the city and far beyond, even influencing church architecture in Europe thanks to the connection with Al-Andalus in Spain. Non-muslims are banned from mosques in Morocco so I was unable to see the interior but this landmark is visible from all over the city.


2012-06-06-14-33-34_1000001083 by Mjones56, on Flickr

The other side of the square leads off into the maze of the Medina, a vast and disorienting for the first-time visitor complex of hundreds or maybe thousands of narrow passageways covering several km2 with no street markings, numerous dead-ends, and for the European tourist at least, many people willing to lead/mislead you for a few Dirhams.

Immediately beyond the Djemma-el-fna come the souks, hundreds of small shops in covered alleyways selling a big variety of goods from eggs to carpets to metalwork to footwear. Some of it tourist crap possibly imported from China but much of it clearly locally produced and sold as can be seen from the numerous small workshops and manufacturing units that can be seen behind doorways and in little courtyards just off the main routes.


2012-06-06-12-04-18_1000001030 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-06-17_1000001035 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-07-51_1000001036 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Different areas seem to specialise in different products, this part is the footwear department...


2012-06-06-12-08-18_1000001037 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-09-18_1000001038 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The Medina is not all souks though, far from it, most areas are regular residential/commercial areas, and while there are many western tourists in the areas immediately around the Djemma-el-fna I found that the further away from there I went the fewer and fewer they became.

We first went walking towards the Eastern area of the Medina...

You can see where the name of the Ochre City comes from, pretty much all buildings in Marrakech, old or new are this colour of tan and earth.


2012-06-06-08-54-50_1000001007 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-09-17-10_1000001009 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-09-17-16_1000001010 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-09-26-28_1000001011 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-09-27-33_1000001013 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-09-37-59_1000001016 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Cars cannot access most of the small streets and alleys of the medina, but small motorcycles and scooters are everywhere, constantly taking people around the old city at a pace much quicker than walking would allow, they are pretty good at avoiding contact with the throngs of pedestrians but you need to be aware of them! This is one of the many tiny repair shops that keeps the Marrakech motorbike fleet operational..


2012-06-06-09-38-04_1000001017 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Heading back towards the souks there is a square full of Berber women selling all sorts of stuff, hats for tourists, henna for the tattoo trade and surrounding the square are herbalists selling who knows what for purposes unknown to me...

Also a big indoor carpet-selling souk was here, as you can see a few photos down.


2012-06-06-11-31-10_1000001021 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-00-19_1000001023 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-00-29_1000001024 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-01-01_1000001026 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-01-50_1000001027 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-02-08_1000001028 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Heading out of the souks now into the open streets of the northern part of the medina, we first come across an area of food shops, nice smelling, but we had lunch on a roof terrace above the Ben Youssef madarassa near here, nice couscous and tagines, 40-50 Dirham, not as good as the food in our hotel but that was much pricier. Food photos to follow :eat:


2012-06-06-12-10-25_1000001039 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-11-03_1000001040 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-11-15_1000001042 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-11-21_1000001043 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-12-53_1000001044 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-13-11_1000001045 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-13-25_1000001046 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Some western legs disappearing into the distance, beyond here the number of tourists reduces drastically as we head further into the northern parts of the medina and we stick out like a sore thumb starting to attract much more attention both friendly and not so friendly...


2012-06-06-12-13-50_1000001048 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-17-58_1000001053 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-18-37_1000001056 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-19-34_1000001057 by Mjones56, on Flickr

A pic from the restaurant on the roof by the Ben Youssef madarassa, it is often difficult to tell where one property ends and the next begins in the Medina, much is in need of repair and much is being built, I don't know whether the general trend here is of improvement or degredation. :dunno:


2012-06-06-12-26-53_1000001058 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-12-28-06_1000001062 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-10-56_1000001067 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
From here we intended to turn back towards the hotel to spend the hot hours of the day indoors or in the shade by the pool. But somehow I took a wrong turn, I am usually pretty good with directions in unfamiliar cities but the medina of Marrakech defeated me.

So many similar-looking streets and passages, non-existant signs, no recognisable landmarks, increasing heat and increasing paranoia from the the numerous people approaching us saying 'where are you going?' 'It is closed down there [as if a whole district is closed :laugh: ], nothing to see, I will take you to a better place', 'you are going wrong way, come with me' etc etc all led us to get completely lost...


2012-06-06-13-17-17_1000001068 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-17-36_1000001069 by Mjones56, on Flickr

I didn't notice at the time I was taking it but this chap obviously wasn't happy about having his photo taken, just after this pic he left his stall and came up to me shouting and pointing at my camera. I couldn't really communicate with him so I just said sorry in French and English and jogged quickly down the street to get away...


2012-06-06-13-17-43_1000001070 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-21-43_1000001072 by Mjones56, on Flickr

We then hit some wider streets near the edge of the walled city...


2012-06-06-13-24-45_1000001073 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-25-38_1000001074 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-26-49_1000001075 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-26-54_1000001076 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Food will come, be patient!

After more aimless wandering we find ourselves finally at a recognisable landmark. This is a shrine to Sidi Bel Abbes

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_al-Abbas_as-Sabti

I always thought that reverence of saints was discouraged in Sunni Islam but this guy seems very popular in Marrakech, I saw a few references to him..

Our unofficial 'guide' who was hanging around the street outside and insisted on showing us around before he would give directions said that people come from as far as Saudi Arabia believing that a visit to this shrine would cure illnesses etc. There were several blind/disabled people sitting in the courtyard, I guess institutions like this serve as the best help they can get in the absence of a welfare state. It is an impressive and beautiful monument...

Walking through this gate, you proceed down a passage with sheltered verandahs on each side before emerging into a paved courtyard.


2012-06-06-13-52-44_1000001078 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-56-08_1000001079 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-56-13_1000001080 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-13-56-57_1000001081 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Having originally insisted that he didn't want our money and just wanted to show us round as not many tourists found their way to his neighbourhood, our guide now of course starting asking for payment. I wouldn't have minded paying a bit to be shown around but I'm not sure why these guys can't be upfront about it. :dunno: My initial offer of 40 Dirham for this 20 minute interlude was greeted with howls of horror as if I had just insulted his mother, our friend then said that I should pay at least double that so that he could 'feed the blind people', there was nothing to suggest that this is where my money would actually end up so after an additional 10 Dirham as my best and final offer he reluctantly pointed us in the direction of the Djemma-el-fna again.

I was then out of change so when we again became lost a few minutes later and another man led us for two minutes in vaguely the right direction before demanding payment I only had 100 dirham notes on me. Thinking he would be pleased by this generous rate of pay I handed over the cash only to be greeted once more with howls of derision and horror 'c'est rien, c'est rien, il faut plus, plus'. It was then I realised that the reaction would probably be the same if I had initially offered a suitcase stuffed with a million Dirham.

Still, it was an entertaining walk and introduction to the city, and we did encounter some people who were genuinely friendly although even many local people didn't seem to know their way around very well with different people pointing in opposite directions for the same destination. A couple of young women gave Mrs Jonesy some licorice when we found ourselves in a dead-end passageway which was welcome sustenance. After some more walking we eventually found our way back to the souks and to the Djemma-el-fna. It was now mid-afternoon and 35c so we headed back to our base to chill out until evening...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
As I mentioned, the hotel itself was interesting, a traditional Morrocan courtyard house known as a Riad, the plain ochre exterior walls and unassuming entrance door hid a beautifully restored wealthy family home that now has around 15 guest bedrooms and is filled with examples of Moroccan decorative arts and furniture..


2012-06-08-10-55-11_1000001438 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-54-14_1000001437 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-09-31-01_1000001406 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-53-17_1000001434 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-52-40_1000001432 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-52-11_1000001431 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-50-31_1000001430 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-43-07_1000001417 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-42-16_1000001415 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-10-41-57_1000001414 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-09-49-54_1000001412 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-09-47-41_1000001410 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-09-46-58_1000001408 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-08-09-30-43_1000001405 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-44-12_1000001132 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-23-06_1000001104 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-13-40_1000001088 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-18-09_1000001094 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-19-10_1000001096 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Some shots I took from the roof terrace over the city, as you can see satellite TV is popular here!


2012-06-06-18-25-42_1000001108 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-26-50_1000001109 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-27-58_1000001111 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-47-03_1000001138 by Mjones56, on Flickr

The courtyard of the neighbouring riad.


2012-06-06-18-47-46_1000001139 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Koutoubia mosque approaching dusk.


2012-06-06-18-48-38_1000001141 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-06-18-50-18_1000001142 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
On day 2 we would head into the new part of the city, Guéliz, founded by the French during the colonial period, photos to follow shortly....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks, glad you like them.

Btw, if I get anything wrong in the descriptions feel free to correct me, i've only spent three days in the city so I'm not an expert at all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
So, on the morning of the following day we set off in the other direction, a few minutes walking up the main artery known as Avenue Mohammed V and we head beyond the city walls into the district of Guéliz.


2012-06-07-07-44-24_1000001150 by Mjones56, on Flickr

A real contrast to the Medina, quieter, more spacious, and at the centre of the district a shining modern shopping and apartment complex with the typical chain stores found all over Europe and beyond plus the omnipresent golden arches....


2012-06-07-07-52-54_1000001152 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-07-54-32_1000001153 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-07-54-41_1000001154 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-07-55-35_1000001155 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-07-56-30_1000001156 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-07-57-15_1000001157 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-08-33-00_1000001158 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Our trip coincided with 'Marrakech rire' a well-known comedy festival, there were numerous posters up advertising different acts..


2012-06-07-08-33-54_1000001159 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-08-38-48_1000001161 by Mjones56, on Flickr

Amongst a lot of fairly generic Postmodern type buildings you can see the occasional Art Deco relic of the colonial era such as this hotel.


2012-06-07-09-40-43_1000001164 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-09-48-52_1000001165 by Mjones56, on Flickr

After a couple of cafe stops we started to head up towards the Jardins Majorelle, a large garden filled with cactuses that was founded by French painter Jaques Majorelle and later bought and restored by French fashion designer Yves-Saint-Laurent who lived and worked for many years in the neighbouring mansion.


2012-06-07-10-00-51_1000001167 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-10-02-38_1000001168 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 

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As I mentioned, the hotel itself was interesting, a traditional Morrocan courtyard house known as a Riad, the plain ochre exterior walls and unassuming entrance door hid a beautifully restored wealthy family home that now has around 15 guest bedrooms and is filled with examples of Moroccan decorative arts and furniture..

2012-06-06-18-19-10_1000001096 by Mjones56, on Flickr
Great shots. Heading myself to Morocco including Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Marrakech, Atlas Mtns and other points...that hotel you stayed in marrakech...could I bother you for the name of it? Was it good?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Grampians said:
Great shots. Heading myself to Morocco including Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Marrakech, Atlas Mtns and other points...that hotel you stayed in marrakech...could I bother you for the name of it? Was it good?
It was good, more expensive than I would normally pay but it was only for 3 nights and it was a treat. The name is the Palais Sebban.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
And here are the Majorelle Gardens, the blue modernist house was the studio of Jacques Majorelle and now houses a Berber ethnographic type museum.

The gardens are beautiful but felt a bit more of a tourist attraction rather than an integral part of the city, probably because they are behind walls with a 50 Dirham entry fee so of the people in there maybe only about 15% looked to be Moroccan.


2012-06-07-10-09-04_1000001171 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-10-11-04_1000001174 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-10-11-29_1000001175 by Mjones56, on Flickr

There is a small exhibit of Yves-St-Laurent pictures...


2012-06-07-10-38-05_1000001181 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-10-41-12_1000001186 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-10-53-28_1000001204 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-10-54-31_1000001205 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-10-58-13_1000001211 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-11-00-50_1000001216 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-11-03-35_1000001221 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-11-05-11_1000001226 by Mjones56, on Flickr

A few Marrakech residents have nice views of the garden from their apartments!


2012-06-07-11-05-37_1000001227 by Mjones56, on Flickr


2012-06-07-11-06-37_1000001230 by Mjones56, on Flickr
 
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