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Marrakesh: Morocco’s Historical Jewel, Islam’s Mark in North Africa

The history of Morocco stretches back from the Roman Empire to the present. In Roman times, the territory of Morocco was part of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. During this period, Morocco became an important Roman settlement, and many remains from this period have survived. Morocco later came under the influence of the Berber peoples and became a Muslim state with the spread of Islam.

Marrakesh comes first among the touristic sites of Morocco. So, let’s explore Marrakesh and its must-see places.

The city, which is the first capital of the country, is located at the bottom of the Atlas Mountains and forms a crossing point between the Atlantic and Morocco. Also called Marrakech, it is known as the “Red City.”

One of Morocco’s most iconic buildings, the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, is located in the country’s south. This UNESCO World Heritage Site of the old town is famous for its impressive sandstone structures.

The city of Marrakesh has a traditional large trading market in Morocco and is also one of the most active in Africa and the world.

Marrakesh is one of the most popular tourist cities in the country. It is home to major tourist attractions such as its fascinating historical bazaars, the Bahia Palace, the Koutoubia Mosque and the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa Square. Marrakesh is also famous for its impressive gardens and unique architecture.

Jemaa el-Fnaa

Jemaa el-Fnaa is a square and bazaar in Marrakesh. The square is Marrakesh’s main square and is used by both residents and tourists. The history of the square and the origin of its name are unknown.

A huge bazaar with street restaurants is set up in the square every evening. Jugglers, storytellers who tell Berber legends and tales, drummers, Gnava musicians and snake charmers gather around them. Performances by various street performers usually last until midnight and are very popular with tourists.

In 2001, the square, along with the entire historical center of Marrakesh, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The “cultural area” of the square was declared a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity in 2008 and included in the list.

Bahia Palace

The Bahia Palace is a palace dating from the mid to late 19th century. Today the palace is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Morocco.

The palace is still sometimes used by the King of Morocco to receive foreign government officials or to host events. Today, it is a well-known historical monument and tourist attraction of the city.

El Badi Palace

Decorated with materials imported from many countries, from Italy to Türkiye, El Badi Palace was used for receptions and was designed to showcase the sultan’s wealth and power. It was part of a larger Saadian palace complex located in Marrakesh’s Kasbah district.

After 1603 the palace was neglected and eventually fell into ruin. Its precious materials, especially marble, were stripped and reused in other buildings in Morocco. Today, it is a major tourist attraction in Marrakesh and serves as an exhibition space. Especially the pulpit of Koutoubia Mosque is exhibited here.

Koutoubia Mosque

Koutoubia is the largest mosque in Marrakesh. The name of the mosque is also variably translated as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque and Bookstores Mosque.

It is located in the southwest of the city in Marrakesh’s Medina neighborhood, surrounded by extensive gardens, near the famous public place of Jemaa el-Fnaa.

It is considered a classic and important example of Almohad architecture and Moroccan mosque architecture in general. Its 77 meters (253 feet) high minaret is decorated with various geometric arch motifs, with a spire and metal spheres at the top.

The minaret is also considered an important landmark and symbol of Marrakesh.

Jardin Majorelle

The French Orientalist artist Jacques Majorelle created Jardin Majorelle over almost 40 years, starting in 1923. Designed by French architect Paul Sinoir in the 1930s, the villa was the residence of the artist and his wife from 1923 until their divorce in the 1950s.

In the 1980s, the property was purchased by fashion designers Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Berge, who worked to restore it. Today, the garden and villa complex is open to the public. The villa houses the Barber Museum, and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum opened nearby in 2017.

Ibn Yusuf Madrassa

Ibn Yusuf Madrassa is an Islamic university in Marrakesh. The inscription at the entrance of the university features the words of 12th-century Almoravid Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf and says: “Whoever walks through my door may exceed their hopes!”

Now a historic site, it was once the largest Islamic college in the Maghreb. The madrassa got its name from the adjacent Ibn Yusuf Mosque, built by the same sultan.

The spot attracts thousands of tourists yearly and remains one of the most important historical buildings in Marrakesh.

Bab Agnaou

Bab Agnaou is one of the best-known gates of Marrakesh. Its construction is attributed to the Almohad caliph Abu Yusuf Ya’qub al-Mansur and was completed sometime around 1188 or 1190.

It is located in the northwest corner of the Kasbah, near Bab er-Robb, just inside the walls of the main city. The function of the gate was primarily decorative, given its location already inside the city walls.

The gate, however, was originally flanked by two bastion towers crowned with merlons, and the passage inside was a sloping entrance through a large vaulted entrance.

Source : Daily Sabah