Jemaa el-Fnaa: hover to explore

Orange juice stalls in the centre of Marrakech

Situated in the middle of Marrakech, the central square (Jemaa El Fnaa) truly can be described as the beating heart of the city... Read More...

Magical Riad Papillon

An intimate and luxurious Riad located in the fashionable Dar El Bashah district of the Medina, a short walk from the main square.... Read More...

The Koutoubia Mosque

The Koutoubia mosque was built in the 12th century under the Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur to be the crowning glory of his North African based empire, it is indeed today still the largest mosque to be found in Marrakech today... Read More...

Horse drawn Carriages Marrakech

As you stroll through the winding alleys of the Marrakech Medina you will see that the pathways are shared by pedestrians, mopeds, donkey-drawn carts and the Calèche... Read More...

Snake Charmers Marrakech

Snake charming is an ancient skill in Morocco and those who practice this art can always be found in Marrakech’s central square, Jemaa El Fnaa.. Read More...

Lamp Sellers Marrakech

Lamp’s have held a hugely high value in Moroccan architecture and design for hundreds of years and are used in all four corners of Morocco to decorate shops, restaurants and houses... Read More...

Fishing for bottles

In the midst of Jemaa el Fna square every evening you can catch a group of locals in a circle doing something which at first looks rather peculiar... Read More...

Water Sellers Marrakech

One of the more curious things is the sights of brightly dressed men moving throught the crowds (often ringing bells or callingout) carrying goat skin bags of water and brass cups... Read More...

Snail or Babbouch seller

Mostafa Elbahja is the self appointed NUMBER ONE Babbouch (snails) vendor in the Jemma al Fnaa square... Read More...

The acrobats of Jemaa al Fnaa

As you unwind in one of the cafe's or restaurants that are lined along the edges Jemaa al-Fnaa, don't be surprised if you catch a glimpse of a group of local acrobats who often descend towards the South-Eastern corner of the square. ... Read More...

Magical Dar Habiba

Dar Habiba is a traditional secluded Riad with it’s own private Hamman- the ultimate Marrakech luxury. One suite and three rooms sharing a romantic courtyard minutes from the famous Jemma al Fnaa square.. ... Read More...

Magical Riad Cinnamon

Riad Cinnamon is a beautifully restored merchants’ house located in a quiet residential area in the heart of the old town just two minutes from the Marrakech Museum and ten minutes from the main square... Read More...

Magical Riad Star

The newest and brightest Riad hotel in Marrakech. Jazz Age icon Josephine Baker lived here, the Riad is decorated with Music Hall memorabilia sourced from the Casino de Paris. This stunning Art Deco Riad can sleep up to 18 guests in Seven Luxury rooms... Read More...

Music salesman

One stall that you might hear before you see are the various CD sellers that are scattered about Jemaa al-Fnaa.... Read More...

Argan musicians

As the sun set’s over the central square of Marrakech, performers, magicians and musicians descend on Jemaa al-Fnaa to perform for the thriving crowds that circulate within the area. One group of musicians who call themselves the ‘Argan group’ have become particularly popular in the square for the atmosphere they create with their array of percussion instruments... Read More...

Ta'Jin Darna

Serving a variety of traditional Moroccan dishes and refreshments it's cosy rooftop terrace is the ideal space in which to stop and refresh your batteries after a day spent exploring the red city.... Read More...

Our favourite fish stall

The food stalls in the Jemma al fnaa square, Marrakech are many and varied and all just a short walk from your luxury Riad Hotel. Our favourite fish stall is number 14 Haji Mohammed El Krita... Read More...

Snack Toubka

Day and night, Snack Toubkal is a bustling eating spot for tourists and locals. As one of the waiters guides you to your seat don’t be surprised to overhear a melting pot of different languages conversing with one another whilst enjoying a range of traditional Moroccan dishes... Read More...

The souks

The souks of Marrakech are the largest you can find from all four corners of Morocco and it’s astonishing to think that for a thousand years the district has acted as a thriving central hub for trade and commerce without very little changing at all. Though allowances have been made for modern tastes, many of the same commodities can still easily be found in the winding alleys of the Souks... Read More...

Chleuh, Dancing boys

Around dusk in the north west corner of the Jemaa al fnaa the famous-dacing boys gather and start to perform. The dance and accompanying music will build to a crescendo many hours later... Read More...

Hamza, the street performer

If you stroll through the winding streets nearby Rue Riad Zitoun el Kdim and the Riad Dar Habiba, you may be lucky enough to spot Hamza. Hamza is a street cleaner by his daily trade, however he also has a burning passion for the dance moves inspired by Charlie Chaplin... Read More...

7 Saints Restaurant

The 7 Saints is a cosy Café-Restaurant in the southern reaches of the central square of Marrakech, Jemaa al-Fnaa, where you will be able to find traditional Moroccan cuisine as well as good variety of European dishes such as panini’s and pizzas.... Read More...

El Waha Restaurant

El Waha offers a similar selection of traditional Moroccan dishes as other Café Restaurant’s in the area such as Taj’in Darna, what distinguishes El Waha however is it’s rooftop terrace which is one of the highest in Jemaa al-Fnaa... Read More...

Qu'elle est jolie

Qu` elle est jolie is a folk group usually to be found playing in the Jemma al Fnaa square opposite to the landmark Cafe France. Their best known song of the same name switches between Spanish, Berber, French and the Darija Moroccan dialect... Read More...

Poste Office

On the south-western side of the central square of Jemaa al-Fnaa you will discover a large post office (Poste Maroc)... Read More...

Moroccan dried fruits

Dried Moroccan fruits and dates in particular are not only key staples in Moroccan cuisine, they have a rich cultural and historical significance that goes back many thousands of years.... Read More...

Pharmacie de la place

Pharmacie de a place is conveniently located overlooking the main Jemaa al Fnaa square and has exceptionally helpful staff. A good address in Marrakech.... Read More...

Chez Chegrouni

Chez Chegrouni is one of the most dependable restaurants in Marrakech. Located in the main square just to the North of Cafe France. You may be lucky enough to dine there while the owner, Mr Chegrouni, is there... Read More...

Dinner time Stall #12

As the call to prayer resonates throughout Jemaa el Fna a strange process starts to take place throughout the square, strange rectangular market stalls appear to pop up from nowhere in the centre of the square and within a few brief minutes the enticing smell of cooking Moroccan food wafting over the square can be smelt... Read More...

Spicy tea vendors

On the South side of the Jemma al Fnaa square between the night time food stalls and the crowded open space packed with performers is a row of spicy tea vendors... Read More...

Cafe Argana

Cafe Argana is located on the main Jemma al Fnaa square with panoramic views from the upstairs terrace, renowned as a particularly fine place from which to see the Marrakech sunset... Read More...

Cafe France

Cafe France is a Marrakech institution, located at the north west corner of the Jemaa al Fnaa it has been a meeting place and watering hole for Europeans since the days of the French Protectorate in Morocco... Read More...

Le grand balcon du Cafe Glacier

At Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier you will discover a selection of traditional Moroccan refreshments. During the day this venue is ideal for enjoying a glass of mint tea, which at 20 Dirhams (£1.49) isn’t the cheapest that’s on offer within the confines of Jemaa al-Fnaa. However the unique ambiance of this grand café-restaurant with it’s towering, high ceilings and original Moroccan design makes it more than worthwhile... Read More...

Evil Eye

particularly towards the Eastern side of Jemaa al-Fnaa you will discover many Marrakshi locals selling unusual trinkets.Unlike the souvenirs you will find in the nearby postcard shops, for a few Dirhams you can have a craftsman fashion you a key-ring with a distinct purpose: to ward off the evil eye.... Read More...

Les Terrasses de l'Alhambra

Located in the north-eastern reaches of Jemaa al-Fnaa you will discover Les Terrasses de l’Alhambra. The Café Restaurant occupies an entire corner of the northern side of Jemaa al-Fnaa, making it easy to find if this is your first visit to the bustling centre of the red city of Marrakech... Read More...

Snack La Place

Conveniently located just opposite the open air food stalls of Jemaa al-Fnaa is ‘Snack la place’, a cosy restaurant that you will discover to be humming with tourists and locals alike, night and day... Read More...

Olive sellers

During your visit to the red city of Marrakech, one thing you cannot afford to miss are the olive sellers of the central square. You will find them lined up in the Northern reaches of Jemaa al-Fnaa as the square and the famous Souk district connect with one another... Read More...

Aqua restaurant

On the Eastern side of Jemaa al-Fnaa you will find Aqua, a quaint Italian pizzeria in the heart of the Medina.Depending on the length of your stay in the red city of Marrakech, you might discover that the intensely flavourful local tajine’s leave you longing for the more familiar tastes of home... Read More...

Marrakechi Restaurant

The Marrakchi is a well known and well loved restaurant situated next to Cafe France on the North West corner of the main Jemma al Fnaa square in Marrakech. We particularly like Marrakchi at night, ask for a window table, the view down to the square is stunning.. Read More...

Mint sellers

Scattered throughout the Medina you will see the many mint salesmen going about their daily trade. Mint is an absolutely key staple in Moroccan society, used in marinades for a variety of dishes and of course in the traditional mint tea... Read More...

Gnawi Rythm instrument

HajHoj is the arabic name for an African instrument that arrived in the north of the continent during the golden age of Morocco in the 15 century. Slavery was common at that time and it was through music that slaves transported from sub saharan Africa retained a link to their own cultures and faiths. A mythology developed around the instrument that it was a metaphorical boat that could emancipate them from slavery and sail them away to the freedom... Read More...

Tanjia, a special dish unique to Marrakech

The Tanjia dish is shaped like a greek urn, it is perfectly adapted to be used for slow cooking in the embers of the wood fires burning underneath the many Marrakech hammams public baths. Tanjia is tradtionally prepared by the men of the household, fresh meat, herbs and spices are carefully mixed and sealed in the Tanjia, these days lamb is most often used though historically it might also have been camel... Read More...

Film Set Marrakech

Marrakech is often used for filming, and just occasionally the movies leave a mark on the Red City. One such example is to be found on the rue Mouassine very near to the Mouassine fountain in the Central Medina five minutes from Riad Cinnamon and Riad Papillon... Read More...

Marrakech Film Festival

The 12th Marrakech film festival is scheduled to take place between November 30 and December 8th. This year will have a strong indian theme with a tribute to Hindi cinema. As usual there will be free showing of films projected on large screens in the main square. The atmosphere in the Marrakech old town is truly magical during the film festival... Read More...

Chebakia, a Ramadan delicacy

The 12th Marrakech film festival is scheduled to take place between November 30 and December 8th. This year will have a strong indian theme with a tribute to Hindi cinema. As usual there will be free showing of films projected on large screens in the main square. The atmosphere in the Marrakech old town is truly magical during the film festival... Read More...

Moroccan crafts

Marrakech is a ancient city which has acted as a hub of trade and commerce for nearly a thousand years. One of the most fascinating aspects of the cities rich and diverse history that is well worth your attention is it’s relationship with the arts and crafts... Read More...

The Jewish community in Marrakech

The Jewish community has a long history in Marrakech and Morocco at large, indeed the history of the community stretches back to antiquity under the Roman empire following the dissolution of the Jewish state in 70 AD with Jewish people arriving after the destruction of the Jewish state. The Jewish people received relatively kind treatment under the sultans due to their usage of the jiyza system whereby they were left alone as long as they paid their taxes... Read More...

Gnawa Music Marrakech

From the red city of Marrakech to the sleepy oasis of Essaouira, one thing you will not miss on your visit to Morocco is the intense presence of ‘Gnawa’ music. From single musicians to whole troops practice this art form and you will instantly be able to recognise Gnawa in the streets by the distinctive beat of iron rattles or ‘karkabas’... Read More...

Seven Saints of Marrakech

Many religious figures are buried in Marrakech but in the seventeenth century the Moulay Ismail assigned particular significance to seven such men (loosely translated as the seven saints) with diverse backgrounds each in their own way significant to the history of Marrakech and the Kingdom of Morocco.... Read More...

Harira Soup

Harira is a rich soup based on a red meat stock made with lentils and seasonal fresh vegetables. It is often eaten as part of the Ftour the ‘breakfast’ at the end of the days fast during the holy month of Ramadan... Read More...

Sweets sellers

Several small vehicles lined up along the corners of the square each evening, they present a myriad of forms of traditional cakes and Moroccan sweets both home-made and the product of specialist bakeries. Many of these cakes are holidays specialities and all are best accompanied by tea. They contain sugars, spices, honey, chocolate, Sugar, Fruit and Other as well as flour, starches, almonds dry fruits and other nuts... Read More...

An incomparable gathering place

The main square or Jema el Fnaa has been the beating heart of Marrakech since the Red City was founded a thousand years ago. Fnaa has two meanings in arabic, it can mean death, or it can mean courtyard.  Opinion is divided as to whether the square takes its name from the gruesome public display there of the heads of criminals in the middle ages or, perhaps more likely, from its distinctive open space.

World Heritage Site

There are some distractions in the square which have evolved for the amusement of tourists: colourful water sellers anxious to earn a few Dirhams posing for photographs in traditional costume; snake charmers; performing monkeys, and their masters clutching polaroid cameras. However, what is quite extraordinary is that the vast bulk of the teeming life in the square remains essentially local: dentists displaying teeth removed from previous clients; herb doctors laying out their wares; fortune tellers crouching over gas lamps; storytellers recounting the oral culture of Berber tribes in obscure dialects (UNECSO cited the oral heritage of the square when designating it a world heritage site); and musicians performing ancient gnawa trance rituals the origins of which predate modern language. The square also continues a centuries old tradition of acrobats, tumblers, jugglers, mime artists and other visual entertainers. No visit to Marrakech is complete without experiencing the Jema al Fna.

Open air barbecue

At night the atmosphere intensifies and the northern end of the Jema al Fna becomes a vast open air barbecue with rows of dozens of food stall competing for trade. Their hygiene standards can be criticised but the ambience is truly unique. A more conservative alternative to eating at the open air food stalls is to sit in one of the many cafes and restaurants around the perimeter many of which have balconies and terraces with views across the square.

Interactive Map

We are grateful to London based artist Lucie Conoley who created the image above which is the basis of our interactive map.  Mouse over to discover links to around a hundred articles explaining more about the square, its history and the tumult of activity to be found there night and day. There is no better place to say in Marrakech than one of our traditional Riad hotels in the old town, our dedicated staff will do everything possible to make your stay a success.