cooked in big pot from copper , over a low fire. And the sellers present them in a tea glasses joined with some traditional sweeties, to decrease the degree of chilly of the drink. And Mohamed one of those people that maintains doing that career since 10 years ago, and he said that he enjoyed with it as he feels the responsibility of his ancestors, that they were in the same place since the 50s years of the recent century. The benefits of the drinks appear also in the marrakshi habit, as it is the favor one after having their dinner, to keep them warm and also it helps on digesting the food.
The mosques are usually a restrictive place to perform and learn the worship through the QUORAN (house rituals) that should be led in a good way by the Imam and the Moazine. It is rule seems providing the regular opportunities to acquire knowledge that organize the social affairs chiefly the thing concern about the financial situations and trade. And it is not strange to see that besides each Market, the Muslims set usually the Mosque besides the Market, first to be more close to their trade. The mosque besides the Market in the square come to emphasize that, as it is used for the worship role, plus as a centre of learning how to manage the life trade and also solve the financial problems, and most of the Friday speeches deliver several massages
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about the intimidate, prohibition, a guide to gain a legal trade. The existence of the mosque relates with the existence of the Market, they don’t have the exact date for its foundation, and many stories talked that it was first just a bog hall, that is transformed to be later as a Mosque of the Market.
Newly opened and without doubt one of our top tips!
There are many doors in Marrakech and one cannot imagine what is behind them, however, in Bab doukkala, on el gza arset street at number 186, you will find a peaceful place, with friendly faces and a 21st century menu. Latitude 31 is not a Moroccan restaurant… at least not in the conventional sense! They offer a blend between old and new, ancient and ultra modern.
While most Moroccan restaurants would serve you the well known and delicious chicken tagine with olives, the welcoming team at Latitude 31 will prepare it with exotic fruits…They offer a good variety of salads, tagines, briouates, cous cous and deserts as well as refreshing non alcoholic cocktails and soft drinks. They do not serve alcohol!
Our fantastic team will help you make a reservation and our Marrakech Riad travel guide app, which is available for iOs and Android, will guide you to the front door!
There aren’t many spots in the Medina of Marrakech where you can enjoy a glass of wine with your lunch or dinner. Located in Rahba Kedima, just
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a few steps away from our Magical Marrakech riads and overlooking the spice Market, Nomad restaurant and bar is a great place to enjoy a tasty twist of traditional Moroccan cuisine with international influences. With great 360 degree views across the Medina and spacious roof terraces on 2 levels, Nomad bar and restaurant is perfect for a relaxed dinner with family or friends; Their menu includes various dishes with seasonal vegetables, locally sourced, hot and cold salads, tagines with a modern twist, several fish and seafood dishes as well. There is even a childrens menu. Along these they offer a decent drinks menu: beer, wine, cocktails and more which one would not think to find in the heart of the Medina; Your Riad team will be pleased to help you make a reservation.
Magical Marrakech is a multicultural city at the crossroads between Africa, Europe and the Arab world. We are looking for motivated and professional candidates for writing and video-blogging internships in Marrakech during July and August 2016. Internships are normally between four and six weeks. You will be provided with food and lodging in Marrakech as well as basic expenses. Prospective interns should have completed at least one full year of University level education and demonstrated an ability to write persuasively. Responsibilities include contributing to our websites, App, blogs and social media.
Our App for iphone Marrakech Riad Travel Guide and android Marrakech Riad Travel Guide Plus is currently in ten languages, each has been written by a native speaker containing advice and support relevant. We are looking for interns who can achieve a similarly excellent result in other languages, priorities are Portugese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi and Thai, but we are open to any proposal. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a translation job. The objective is to re-imagine our guide to Marrakech, within the framework of the App in a way that makes it genuinely relevant and helpful from the cultural perspective of native speakers of your mother tongue.
Video bloggers need to demonstrate a mastery of the medium preferably through a body of work with a large existing following on social media. They and they need to bring their own equipment. Priority languages are English, German and French.
To apply for an internship please email a letter of introduction or cv to:
Reaching an altitude of 2260 meters above the sea level, Tizi n’Tichka – part of the Moroccan National Route, N9 – is the highest major mountain pass of North Africa. Developed by the French Military, a fact noted in a large plaque, the Tizi n’Tichka route functions as the main direct linking Marrakech with Ouarzazate and exists as a spectacular piece of engineering.
The Tizi n’Tichka runs straight from Marrakesh across the Haouz Plain, before curving through the forest slopes above the Oued Ghdat valley and twisting past small villages and fields as it heads to Taddert, the last significant village on the north side of the pass.
Once the N9 national route of Tizi n’Tichka hits the the road offers stunning views at every turn: the Berbers call the Atlas range idraren draren, “The Mountains of Mountains”, and it is easy to see why. In the winter months, from November to March, snow can often fall on the pass, but it is warm all year round thanks to the strong Moroccan sun.
Ultimately, unless you are a Top Gear Presenter or a huge car enthusiast the Tizi n’Tichka route is perhaps not a destination in itself. However, if you are travelling between Marrakech and the Ouarzazate, or if you are stopping off at Telouet, Igherm, Aït Benhaddou, Agadir, the Kasbah Telouet or anywhere in between, you will undoubtedly use this route. All in all, the Tizi n’Tichka makes the long journeys across Morocco even more enjoyable!
The Moroccan people are famous for their hospitality and always make an effort to ensure any guest or visitor is comfortable, fed and, most importantly, given a mint tea to drink. Indeed, this warm welcoming nature is perhaps the reason that many local Marrakchis opt for large, ornate door knockers to embellish their front door. That is, the large door knocker acts as a symbol suggesting guests are welcome, whilst functioning in a way that ensure the potential guest is heard.
The door knockers of Marrakech prove very popular with visitors to Marrakech; that is, both with the amateur photographer, who often enjoy photographing these unique and photogenic artefacts, and the amateur interior designer, who search through the world famous souks for a door knocker to bring back home as a souvenir.
Although you will find many different styles of door knockers in the ancient medina of Marrakech, the most popular and most common is the Hand of Fatima. The Hand Of Fatima – or the Khomsa or Hamsa as it is also known – is the universal sign of protection and acts as a form of protection from evil. The symbol itself finds it’s origins in the form of a salutation – that is, when someone raises their hand to say hello to a friend – making it the perfect door knocker!
The Hand of Fatima is not the only symbol used as a door knocker. It is possible to see Lions, stars and more basic rings in a variety of materials from polished brash to rustic, rusty metal. Our very own luxury riads also exhibit this variety with Dar Habiba boasting a golden hand door knocker and Raid Star sporting the more traditional Hand of Fatima. As is common with the interior design fittings, both have been handmade by a local skilled artisan.
To help visitors explore these artisanal crafts, trade associations and local authorities have signposted four walking routes through the medina themes to reflect the districts they take you though. You can follow these Medina Walks on our free MarrakechRiad app. If you have any questions about the Medina Walks our Riad staff would be more than happy to assist you.
Anyone who has visited Marrakech will probably tell stories of the cats and kittens that inhabit the streets of the ancient medina. Every derb (street) you walk down you see family of cats resting in the shade, a cute kitten lapping up some water or a lone cat sneaking around the corner. Even some of Marrakech’s main tourist attractions – such as El Badi Palace, Saadian Tombs or the Menara Gardens – are inhabited by lots of furry felines.
However, unlike our household friends, the cats of Marrakech are street cats. Although they are fed, watered and cared for by the locals, yet don’t entirely exist as pets in the way we consider cats. (Indeed, our riad staff often give the street cats water and leftovers!!) In this way the Marrakech cats are a lot more independent and more carefree than the cats we know and love.
Just as everywhere in the world, the cats and kittens of Marrakech divide opinion. Some love the cats and find them cute and adorable, while others aren’t so interested and would rather keep their distance. This rule applied for both tourists and locals alike. Yet, due to the independent nature of the cats of Marrakech are not used to attention and will probably shy away from a loving hand. Similarly, if cats aren’t your cup of tea – or rather, your cup of mint tea – then it is quite easy to avoid them.
Ultimately, whatever you think about them, the cats and kittens of the medina are genuine Marrakchi locals and are just one of the many things which makes the red city such a unique and interesting place to visit. Why not book at stay at our luxury riads today?
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In Marrakech, there are many traditional artisanal trades that have been practiced for centuries, passed down from generation to generation. One such craft skill is the art of Tazoukt. Tazoukt is a form of woodcraft in which wooden items – including panels, boxes, ceilings and furniture – are painted in intricate patterns. The designs are often use traditional Moroccan colours of red, representing Marrakech, and blue, representing Fez, in a colourful design that is not dissimilar to the swirling Arabic carvings.
Whilst exploring the Marrakech Medina we met Taoufik, a 37 old year craftsman who specialised in artisanal craft of Tazoukt. Taoufik owns a small shop (atelier) situated in the heart of the Marrakech souks. He explained that he had left school in 1992 to train as a carpenter. Indeed, before you learn the art of Tazoukt wood decoration, you first need to train as a carpenter.
Taoufik explained that he had worked a few years as a carpenter. These years spent in carpentry are very useful to his practice of Tazoukt decoration as can he choose and manufacture his own objects and small pieces, before decorating these objects. In his atelier (shop) Taoufik makes and sells many small items including boxes, stools, frames, panels and more. He also works on larger commissions, often designing and painting wooden ceilings in traditional Riads.
Indeed, it is possible to see Tazoukt wood painting in out own luxury Riads, here in the heart of the Marrakech Medina. Many rooms have wooden ceilings or small pieces of furniture that feature this ancient artisanal craft. Alternatively, it is also possible to purchase some traditional Tazoukt painted items from the world famous souks.
Just like the traditional art of Tazoukt wood painting, a fantastic range of craft skills are thriving in the Souks of Marrakech still today. To help visitors explore these artisanal crafts, trade associations and local authorities have signposted four walking routes through the medina themes to reflect the districts they take you though. You can follow these Medina Walks on our free MarrakechRiad app. If you have any questions about the Medina Walks our Riad staff would be more than happy to assist you.
Situated close to the Royal Palace, to the southern edge of the Marrakech medina, the Agdal Gardens exists as a superb example of the architectural and landscaping skill. Covering an area of approximately 400 hectares, the garden comprises of orange, apricot, lemon, fig, and pomegranate trees in rectangular plots, all conjoined by olive-tree lined walkways.
The productive orchards of the Agdal Gardens are irrigated using water brought from the Ourika Valley in the Atlas Mountains by an intricate network of underground pools, channels and ditches known as khettera. This network dates back to the 12th and was an amazing feat of engineering.
The gardens were created in 1157 by Abd al-Mu’min of the Almohad dynasty at the same time as the nearby Menara Gardens. As founder of the Almohad capital in Marrakech, Abd al-Mu’min undertook many significant building projects in the city between 1147 and his death in 1163. They were renovated by the Saadi dynasty and then enlarged during the reign of Moulay Abderrahmane in the 19th century. From 1985 the Agdal Gardens were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1985 alongside the medina of Marrakech and the Menara Gardens.
The name “Agdal” comes from the Berber language and means “walled meadow” as the gardens were once surrounded by a large pisé walls. Today, the Agdal Gardens are open to the public and free to visit from 9am to 6pm only on Friday and Sunday. It is possible to reach the gardens on foot, but our riad staff would be more than happy to help arrange transport if you would prefer to take a taxi or a calèche.
As they are situated to the South of the Marrakech Medina, they are closest to our Raid Dar Habiba. However, all our luxury Raids are located in the heart of the Ancient Marrakech Medina and function as perfect bases from which to explore the red city.
Across the Marrakech Medina, almost on every derb (street), there are many small stalls selling a variety of food from home cooked bread to dried fruit. Indeed, each stall specialises in a different food-type and many sell fresh fruit sourced from the local Marrakech area. It is undoubtedly true that the summer months (July to September) the Fig de Barbarie is the most popular fruit among locals. However during the winter months, when the famous fig is out of season, the Mandarin Orange reigns as the most popular fruit snack.
The mandarin is tender and is damaged easily by cold and can only be grown in tropical and subtropical areas. This is why the mandarin, and indeed most fruits, suits the warm Marrakech climate perfectly. The mandarin is part of the orange family, yet it remains smaller and easier to peel than a normal orange, making it the perfect street snack. Like all members of the citrus family, they provide a boost of vitamins, minerals and natural sugars, giving a healthy natural energy to fuel your walk around the Medina.
These small fruit stalls are used by locals and tourists alike and we highly recommend you take a visit. The local stall sellers are always friendly and happy to help you make your purchase and the fruit is always fresh, healthy and safe to eat.
Although you can also find fresh fruit on every street in the red city, our luxury Riads also serve fresh fruit at breakfast and for snacks during the day upon request. So, why not book a stay at one of our traditional Moroccan accommodation today?
Set off the famous Jemaa el Fna Square, Passage Prince Moulay Rachid – or Le Prince Street as it is known to the locals – is one of the most popular streets in the Marrakech Medina. The street connects the main square to the south of the Medina including the long distance taxi rank, the El Badi Palace and the Saadian Tombs and is a vital passageway for those exploring Marrakech on foot both during the day and after nightfall.
The atmosphere of ‘Le Prince Street’ is not dissimilar from Las Ramblas in Barcelona: the wide pedestrian is lined with affordable roof terrace restaurants, coffee shops and small trading stalls selling a variety of the less traditional Marrakech souvenirs.
At night, the street comes alive with locals and tourists flocking to the main Jemaa el Fnaa Square. Marrakchi Del Boys set up small stalls selling children’s toys, cheap clothes and yet more souvenirs. Indeed, although Passage Prince Moulay Rachid is more commonly functions as a passage rather than a destination in itself, it is still an interesting addition to the ever-evolving cultural history of Marrakech.
The Berbers are a people ethnically indigenous to North Africa west of the Nile Valley. The Berber’s rich cultural history dates back to prehistoric times, over 4000 years ago! Their long recorded influence affected commerce by establishing trading routes between the West African and the Sub-Saharan region where they transported goods from beyond the Sahara desert to the Northern Moroccan cities. Indeed, the Berber identity is usually wider than language, craft and ethnicity; it encompasses the entire history and geography of North Africa and Morocco.
Today, it is still possible to still find many traditional Berber settlements in the mountains of Morocco. Although the Berber people do not live exclusively in rural settlements, these communities offer an interesting insight into the Berber tradition and history. So, when we were invited to visit a traditional Berber Village during our excursion to the village of Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains, we just could not pass on the opportunity.
It had taken us around an hour to reach the village from Marrakech, but the two were worlds apart. The village we had arrived at stood as a cluster of pisé homes carved into the hillside, set to the backdrop of the majestic Atlas Mountains. The Berbers call the Atlas range idraren draren, “The Mountains of Mountains”, and it is easy to see why. The Atlas Mountains stood tall as an unmoving monument, towering over dozens of small Berber communities. The scene was marked by a prevailing silence and an overwhelming stillness; two luxuries rarely found in the vibrant medina of Marrakech.
As we ascended up the narrow pathway lined with clay houses, our tread was delicate as if not to disturb the ambience of scene. That is not to say that we were not or did not feel welcome; instead, our silence was partially a feeling of awe and amazement, and partially an attempt to witness the everyday Berber life unnoticed, so to capture a glimpse of the local community in a way that was as pure as possible. Indeed, the Berber people are renowned for being their hospitality and we were invited into a small home and offered to share a glass of famous Moroccan mint tea. After, we were given a tour of the settlement and had an opportunity to ask our hosts any questions about Berber life. We only visited the village for around 20 minutes, but this experience will stay with us for a lot longer.
When you visit the Souks of Marrakech, you will find many examples of Berber craftsmanship from the stunning silver Tuareg and Amazigh jewellery to handmade Berber rugs. However, if you want to learn more about the authentic Berber way of life, we highly recommend a trip to a traditional Berber village as part of an excursion to Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains.
Our experienced Riad staff are on hand to organise any trips or excursions you wish to take. Our luxury Riads act as the perfect base to explore the Marrakech medina, the Atlas Mountains (including Imlil and the Berber Villages) and beyond.
The high Atlas village of Imlil is the gateway to the magnificent Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak and crowning wonder of the Atlas range and the tallest mountain in North Africa. The scenery is truly stunning and, at just over an hours drive from the Marrakech, it is remarkably accessible, making it the perfect day trip during your stay in the red city.
From here you will drive from the Medina towards the Atlas Mountains. The Berbers call the Atlas range idraren draren, “The Mountains of Mountains”, and it is easy to see why. As you leave Marrakech, the omnipotent Atlas Mountains stand tall as an unmoving monument, dominating the skyline, stretching as far as the eye can see.
En route to Imlil, it is possible to stop off at Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s luxury retreat, and a traditional Berber village. Both stops offer stunning views of Imlil and the surrounding landscape and are highly recommended. Your driver can normally help you organise both of these visits, please let him and our riad staff know in advance if you are interested in visiting either Kasbah Tamadot, or the Berber village during your trip to Imlil.
Once you have arrived at the village of Imlil, your driver will assist you in securing a local Berber guide to lead the excursion. The local guides are there to guide you on your trek and answer any questions you may have about the local area. The hike itself can be altered to suit most levels of experience and athletic ability, allowing you to take in the natural landscape at your chosen pace.
The varied landscape itself is marked by a prevailing silence and an overwhelming stillness; two luxuries rarely found in the vibrant medina of Marrakech. As you can see in the video below, the landscape is varied, unique and always beautiful; all in all, a definite ‘must see’ for those visiting Morocco.
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Our luxury Riads act as the perfect base to explore the Marrakech medina, the Atlas Mountains (including Imlil) and beyond; our experienced staff are on hand to organise any trips or excursions you wish to take.
Running from the 15th January 2015 to the 10th February 2015 Marrakech’s world famous Jemaa el Fnaa square hosted a book exposition hosted by ‘Club Culturel Mohamed Abed Al Jabal Marrakech’.
The late Mohamed Abed Al-Jabri (1935-2010) is a popular Moroccan philosopher who specialised in considering the convergence of tradition and modernity in the contemporary Muslim world. It is fitting, then, that his legacy shall be cemented in celebrations of knowledge and the sharing of knowledge in events such as this Book Exposition. Similarly, it is also apt that such an event be held in the central square in Marrakech; the Jemaa el Fna square is historically a place of oral storytelling, an art still practiced today.
The ‘Club Culturel Mohamed Abed Al Jabal’ book exposition runs until the 10th February. However, if you are traveling to Marrakech after this date then fear not, you have not missed out. There is always so many unique things to do and interesting things to see in Marrakech and, as always, we highly recommend a visit to the world famous Jemaa el Fnaa square
Calligraphy, known as Khatt in Arabic, is very much part of the Arab identity. On your trip to Marrakech, you will see that it is all around you: on shop signs, newspapers, books and advertising. It has become a way of communicating through art. We met up with Nour-Eddine Boukheir, a traditionally trained calligrapher, who revealed some of the secrets of this historic artistic practice.
Nour-Eddine Boukheir explained that calligraphy is often still taught in the traditional way; there is a master and pupil relationship. The apprentice learns with the master, who is part of a long line of calligraphers that goes back many centuries. He went on to explain that you first of all have to learn how to write single letters in the major style of script, before you graduate to learning phrases and techniques of joining these letters together. With so much to learn about the use of colour, the type of paper and ink, the marrying of text with theme and the size of lettering, mastering the art of calligraphy becomes a life-long process of discovery and practice.
Although there exists a plethora of regional styles and modern examples, Arabic calligraphy divides down into two main styles – Kufic and Naskh. Kufic is the oldest form of the Arabic script and was developed around the end of the 7th century. Although there are no set rules of using the Kufic script, the style emphasizes rigid and angular strokes. Due to the lack of a singular domineering method, the scripts often vary greatly in different regions and countries, ranging from very square and rigid forms to flowery and decorative.
In contrast, the Naskh script is highly disciplined, with systematic rules and proportions for shaping the letters. Noticeably more cursive and elegant, the Naskh script is perhaps the most ubiquitous style and is used in Qur’ans, official decrees, and private correspondence.
On your trip to Marrakech it is possible to find many examples of beautiful calligraphy: from the carvings at Ben Yousef Medersa, to the inscribed artisanal products offered in the souls, we are sure you will fall in love with this ancient craft.
During an excursion to the village of Imlil in the Atlas Mountains, our driver suggested a stop off at Kasbah Tamadot. Kasbah Tamadot is Sir Richard Branson’s Moroccan retreat, based high in the Atlas Mountains boasting magnificent views, amazing architecture, beautiful gardens and an incredible showcase of Moroccan inspired interior design.
A night’s stay in the hotel’s cheapest room, the ‘Superior Room’, starts at 5975 Moroccan Dirham (about £430), way out of most people’s budget. However, the kind hosts at Kasbah Tamadot are happy to show you around their luxury residence. Initially, it feels strange to take a tour around a working hotel, but soon you realise that Tamadot is well worth a short visit en route to the mountains.
Although we wouldn’t suggest a trip up into the Atlas Mountains to take a tour around Kasbah Tamadot, here at Marrakech Raid, we highly recommend a trip to the Atlas Mountains for their spectacular views and unprecedented insight into rural Berber life. Indeed, we highly recommend that during your trip to Imlil, you suggest a stop at this luxury hotel to take in the views and a few interior design ideas for the scrapbook.
Our luxury Riads offer a similar level of luxury, albeit at a more affordable price and in a more central location, in the heart of the Marrakech Medina. Furthermore, just like Tamadot we also offer a personalized service in traditional settings, so why not book a stay at one of our luxury riad’s today.
Stretching for 16km around the medina, the extensive ramparts of Marrakech are impossible to miss; they may even be the your first sight of the red city. You may notice that the walls themselves are marked with numerous holes. Although many local Marrakchis will tell you conflicting stories as how the holes were formed, we are here to reveal the truth behind this mystery.
One of the most popular stories concerning the holes in the medina walls is that they were formed by canon blasts. Once upon a time, the gates to the medina were locked every night and the walls themselves acted as a form of protection. With that in mind this particular story would make sense, yet you will notice that the holes are evenly placed and are of an equal size and shape. Therefore, the holes in the Marrakech medina walls cannot possible be made from canon blasts. So we move on…
Another story suggests that, as the pisé-cement walls gradually crumble, small holes are formed; the holes are then enlarged by birds looking for somewhere to nest. Although it is true that birds often set up home within the walls of the Marrakech medina, this version of the story again does not explain how the holes are so evenly spaced and uniformly sized.
The truth is that the holes in the Marrakech ramparts are a cause of the crumbling ancient walls, although as an indirect consequence of this disrepair. The holes are actually used to place scaffolding for restoration. Of course the ramparts have been extensively restored since their conception; indeed the reconstruction is a continual process as the pisé-cement walls, made of the red earth of the Haouz plains, gradually crumble.
Our luxury riads are the perfect base for your stay in Marrakech. Located within the Ramparts, in the heart of the Marrakech medina, all of our riads are ideally located within a short walking distance from all of Marrakech’s top attractions.
Marrakech’s new town, Gueliz, is home to some of Morocco’s best fine art schools and cutting-edge galleries. Hidden down a leafy road, facing Marrakech’s new Carre Eden Shopping Plaza, the David Bloch Gallery is perhaps one of the best examples of Marrakech’s rising contemporary art scene.
In the style of a New York loft, the David Bloch Gallery space is presented with a minimal and clean design and displays a wide range of contemporary art styles.
In recent exhibitions, the gallery space has exhibited sculpture from Steph Cop, photography from the world famous travel photographer Steve McCurry and a wide range of abstract and contemporary art. The art changes frequently and is always impressive, always cutting edge and, furthermore, the gallery is always free to visit!
The David Bloch Gallery is open daily from 10:30 to 13:30 and from 15:30 to 19:30, except Sunday and Monday morning.
The tight streets of the Mellah – traditionally the Jewish neighbourhood of Marrakech – are an atmospheric corner of the red city. It is here where once can find the 17th Century Miaara Jewish Cemetery.
Set east of the El Badi Palace and South of the Bahia Palace in the heart of the Mellah, tucked away behind a tall unremarkable wall, the Cemetery exists as a space of near-silent tranquillity. The Cemetery is not on the standard tourist trail and is often empty, save for a dog or two lazing peacefully in the shade. Set in stark contrast to the bustle of the Medina, the cemetery feels a like a remnant of a lost civilisation.
Although it is acceptable to wonder among the weather-worn tombstones and shrines, it is important to be respectful and remember that this is a religious place. Two friendly brothers act as caretakers to the ancient Jewish Cemetery and they will be more than happy to show you around and tell you about Jewish life in Marrakech.
Ultimately, although it is far from a tourist hotspot, the Miaara Jewish Cemetery is an interesting space of cultural significance, holding alternative, even untold stories of Marrakech’s rich and varied history.
The Moroccan flag is a common sight in the streets of Marrakech; it can be found flying proudly in both the new town of Gueliz and the old town Medina. Indeed, the Moroccan people are often very patriotic and you will find many Marrakchi locals will proudly tell you about the history of their country and their city. However, like any flag, the Moroccan flag itself can also tell you a lot about the history of Morocco itself. Here is our short guide to the Moroccan flag.
The flag of Morocco is made of a red field with a black-bordered green pentagram star. Although the use of red is more commonly associated with the Arab states of the Persian gulf, red and green are traditional colours in Arab flags and both colours are seen in the flag of neighbouring Algeria and the Western Sahara flag. Furthermore, red has considerable historic significance in Morocco, proclaiming the descent of the royal Alaouite family from the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Under the Alaouite Dynasty the Moroccan flag was imply a plain red field. The green five-pointed star was added to the flag in 1915 when Mulay Yusuf ruled Morocco. This green pentagram is drawn with five straight lines; each line represents one of the five pillars of Islam. This style of star has long been used as a symbol of religions as the star of Solomon, also known as the seal of Solomon or the Seal of Mohammed, and the green is also often associated with Islam.
When the French and Spanish ruled Morocco, the flag was banned in most parts of the country. When Morocco gained independence in 1956, they resumed the use of the flag we see today flying proudly across the red city and Morocco.
Not to be confused with the small fridge found in hotel rooms, a minbar is roughly the Islamic equivalent to a pulpit, the steps an Imam ascends during midday Friday prayers. It follows the form of the stairs used by the Prophet Mohammed to address the faithful in Mecca, and still remains an essential part of mosque architecture today. The minbar de la Koutoubia is considered a masterpiece of Islamic art. Indeed, it is undoubtedly one of the finest works of art in wood known to mankind. Built in 1139 in Cordoba during the Almoravid dynasty for Ali Ben Youssef mosque the minbar is decorated with over 1000 intricate carvings in the style of 12th century Moorish art including carved floral motifs, Kufic calligraphy and Quranic scripture. In 1147, however, the Almohad Puritans entered Marrakech and ordered the total destruction of the Ben Youssef mosque
– the mihrab was, it seemed, not facing Mecca. But the minbar seemed too exquisite to be destroyed and was moved to the Koutoubia Mosque, where it lived for 8 centuries. Today the minbar de la Koutoubia has been lovingly restored and rests in El Badi Palace, right in the middle of our ‘Woodworking’ Medina walk available on our free Marrakech Riad App. The El Badi Palace has a small, 10 dirham entrance fee and it costs a further 10 dirhams to visit the small museum that houses the minbar de la Koutoubia, a small price to pay to witness such a unique piece of Marrakech history and a fine example of the traditional woodworking technique and design.
Opened in the Spring of 2014, Café Clock is the baby of Englishman Mike Richardson. It is the sister of Mike’s well-respected Café Clock in the Medina of Fez, and the Marrakech café has already gained a cult following here in the red city.
Expect reasonably priced food and drinks in relaxed surroundings. Our menu highlights are the unique Camel burger and the delicious Almond milkshake, which, with no exaggeration, is perhaps the best milkshake we have ever tried.
The café describes itself as a ‘cross-cultural zone’ and rightly so. The café’s walls are covered with an ever-changing exhibition of local modern art – talent that is not always given a platform in Marrakech – and most evenings there are performances from bands, traditional musicians or storytellers. Café Clock is truly one of the highlights of the fashionable Kasbah district, a definite must-visit for the adventurous traveller.
Café Clock is open every day of the week. Breakfast is served daily from 10h00, last orders for dinner by 22h00.
The Café du Livre is the perfect venue for a quick coffee, a refreshing alcoholic beverage, a light bite or a hearty dinner. By day, Café du Livre is a wonderful place to hang out and relax. To the rear of the café there is an especially comfortable seating area opposite shelves loaded with some 2000 books, both new and second.
The relaxed atmosphere is punctuated by evening of live music and exhibitions. Monday night quiz is a must for young expats. It is easy to see why Café du Livre is becoming somewhat of a Marrakech institution.
The café is located in the heart of Gueliz, tucked away in the Rue Tarik Ben Zaid behind the enormous construction site that used to be the covered market in central Guiliez. It is accessed through the Hotel Toulousain so watch out carefully for signs.
Lying to the east of Marrakech, Bab El Debbagh provides entrance to one of the oldest districts of the city, the tanneries. Of all of the 19 gates that puncture the red pisé-cement ramparts of Marrakech, Bab El Debbagh is the only one to be named after a craft, demonstrating the historic importance of the leather trade throughout the city.
The tanners are said to have been the first to settle in Marrakech during the city’s formation and the tanneries still stand in the same location thousands of years later, at the city’s most easterly point. The original tradesmen chose this location for two reasons: as the tanneries were distanced from the centre of the city, so that the smell did not affect the central residential areas, and so that they were close to the seasonal waters of the Oued Issil river, as water was needed in the tanning process.
The tanning process itself, as with many traditional practices in Morocco, is deeply embedded with symbolism. Indeed, there are a number of competing legends and myths concerning the gate. One such legend suggests that 7 virgins are buried at the foot of the gate, and that women who desire a child should offer them henna and candles. Another story claims that the Tanners Gate is inhabited by Malik Gharub, a genie who led a failed revolt against Sidna Suleyman, the Black King, only to be condemned to tan a cowhide for eternity.
Bab El Debbagh not only functions as a gateway into the city, but it is also the start point of our ‘Leather and Tanning’ Medina walk, a curated tour which traces the significance of the historic leather industry across Marrakech’s old town. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Leather and Tanning’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.
Situated to the north of the world famous Marrakech Souks in Souk Cherifa – a small selection of high-class boutiques – Baboucheshop is a small shop that specialises in hand-made leather fashion items including bags, purses, a range of sandals and, of course, babouche. The project of Carine and Patrick, two French natives who have lived in Marrakech for over 10 years, the Baboucheshop found in Souk Cherifa is the flagship store of the popular online store that sells traditional Moroccan items and Moroccan inspired goods around the world. Indeed, like the majority of shops found in Souk Cherifa, the items for sale are stylish, modern and quirky interpretations of classic Marrakech items; noticeably different from the other items for sale across the Souks.
Our favourite items we found whilst looking around the small boutique – that is, excluding the wonderfully vibrant floor made from a variety of discordant patterned tiles – were a series of light tan sandals and the leather Choukara bags. Both items demonstrate the true versatility of the local leatherwork industries and the tanneries in Marrakech, a versatility that is not always displayed in the goods on sale in the Souks
The sandals are made from 100% cow leather that has been tanned in a beautiful light tanned colour. The colour is the product of a unique process that uses half industrial tanning techniques and half using the traditional artisanal technique. As the artisanal method of tanning leather uses a lot of acid, this 50/50 method is better for your skin and, in our opinion, produces a beautiful product. The sandals on sale range from a gladiator-style piece to the classic 2-strap sandal. At 350 Dirham a pair, they are definitely not cheap, but if you are a fashion conscious traveler who wants something unique, then this is the place for you.
The Choukara is a small Moroccan purse-like bag, traditionally used by shepherds and workers to carry their lunch during the working day. In this way, the leather Choukara is traditionally a bag for men; however, due the embroidery design and purse-like nature of the bag, the bag has found a renewed popularity with the female gender in the last few years. The Choukara has an interesting history and it is difficult to find a Choukara for sale in the Souks, especially one to the same high quality as those sold at Baboucheshop.
Baboucheshop sits in the center of our ‘Leather and Tanning’ Medina walk available on our free Marrakech Riad app and is a great place to stop if your looking for a unique souvenir or if you are interested in items that push the boundaries of the local leather industry. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Leather and Tanning’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.