There are a lot of things to do in Marrakech, but sometimes the hot Moroccan sun can take its toll. It is in these moments that even the most hardened traveller requires a café to relax, drink a refreshing drink and maybe even grab something to eat. Situated in Kasbah district, close to the entrance of the Saadian Tombs and the Bab Agnaou and Bab er Robb Medina gates, lies the Kasbak Café. The central location of this café, just a few minutes walk from Dar Habiba, makes it the perfect place to grab a cool beverage or something to drink whilst ticking off that tourist checklist.
Spread across 3 floors including an ample terrace, Kasbah café has a large menu of hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals and, our particular favorite, a wide range of delicious milkshakes made form real ice cream and milk. Delicious.
All around the world Morocco is famous for it’s carpets and many travellers land in Marrakech in search of a quality piece of authentic craftwork. But it is rare to find a carpet seller who sells quality products, at fixed prices, without the tourist-spiel. However, the El Wifak Carpet Cooperative, located in the Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakech’s Medina, is one such place.
Located just a five minute walk from the Koutoubia Mosque and Jemaa el-Fna, the Ensemble Artisanal is the antithesis of the Souks: the atmosphere is relaxed and the prices are fixed, so no haggling!! Whilst looking through the many shops at the Ensemble Artisanal, we stumbled across the El Wifak Carpet Cooperative and were welcomed by Mustapha Alaoui; who happily spent over half an hour with us talking about carpets, the cooperative and his life.
Mustapha told us that he used to work in the government’s department for Artisanal craftwork, checking the quality of carpets and grading them based on various criteria. It quickly became clear that this man had a strong passion for and a large knowledge of traditional Moroccan carpets; a passion and knowledge he was enthusiastic to share. He explained that, the historic isolation of rural communities meant that peoples of different areas developed very individual styles. He continued to explain that El Wifak sold three kinds of carpet: Berber ‘Kilim’ carpets, used for throws, rugs or hung on walls, Tapestry carpets, made from wool and Arabic carpets, also made from wool, which tended to be bigger in size. Where the ‘Kilim’ carpets were made in the Atlas Mountains in Berber villages, both the Tapestry and Arabic carpets are made by the El Wifak Cooperative.
El Wifak, Arabic for sharing equally or a group of people in agreement, consists of around 70 women who make the carpets sold in the shop. (Traditionally, in Morocco, women make carpets and pottery whilst Men make jewelry and metal utensils.) The most important this about the cooperative is that everyone profits from all these sales are shared equally and everyone benefits. So, if you are looking for a quality product from a reputable source, if you are looking for an ethically sourced souvenir, or even if you are just put off by haggling in the Souks then this is the place for you.
The Ensemble Artisanal and the El Wifak Cooperative is located at the start (or the end, depending which way round you walk) of the ‘Needle and Thread’ Medina Walk available for free MarrakechRiad app. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Woodworking’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.
Once you have followed the small sign off Rue Mouassine, worked your way through the alleyways and knocked on the almost anonymous door to be let in, you are greeted with a warm welcome and an amazing interior.
Dar Cherifa can be found in one of the oldest Riads in Marrakech, dating back to the Saadian times. It has recently been lovingly restored by Abdelatif Ben Abdellah, one of the key figures behind the rejuvenation of the Medina. One thing that firsts strikes you about Dar Cherifa is the incredible use of space: there is a mix of bare untouched walls and original craftsmanship, with a unique centerpiece that hangs above the Riad before the blue Moroccan sky. Alongside some of the best Arabic architecture in Marrakech, the art itself is equally unique and is of a very high standard. Yet, unlike the larger contemporary galleries around the world, the fact that Dar Cherifa focuses on local talent makes it all the more unique.
Although the price of the artwork on display cost a fair bit more than your average postcard and probably won’t make it onto your souvenir list, the food and drink is very reasonably priced and we were given space, time and freedom to look round the gallery at our own leisure. Dar Cherifa is a space of culture that is accessible for everyone, well worth a visit.
Thousands of worshippers rose early today, Tuesday 29th of July, for the first day of Eid-el-Fitr to attend morning prayers. Eid, to use the shortened more common name, is a three-day festival that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. In Marrakech, the morning prayers on Eid happen all over the city in Mosques, communal spaces and, less frequently, at home. We were encouraged by local Marrakchis to come to watch the prayers that occurred in an area that runs alongside the Agdal garden, just beyond the Medina Ramparts, a short walk from Bab Agnaou and Bab er Rob. This required an early 6am start, but the experience was undoubtedly worth it. The Route d’Ourika – a wide, usually deserted road that leads to the expanse of land used for the morning prayers – was full of local Muslims, of all ages and backgrounds, a whole community coming together in celebration. The sight was truly heartwarming.
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Watching the morning prayers was a truly spectacular moment; the mid-prayer silence combined with the fresh morning air and low-lying sun to create an unforgettable sublime moment. Although all the locals warmly welcomed us, we decided to keep our distance from the actual event and observed the event from afar. Yet the whole event was truly magnificent, if you are luck enough to be in Marrakech during the next Eid celebrations, we strongly advise you to take this unique opportunity to observe Islam at such a significant time in the year. However, although we were told that everyone would be more than happy to take photos, it is important to be respectful and remember that this is a religious event.
Eid Mubarak everyone, hope you have a great few days!
Our luxury Riads are the perfect base from which to explore the ancient medina. Reserve accommodation today!
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. It was redecorated at the end of 2009 and inconveniently for the new visitor the Cafe France sign was not repainted over the front. Despite this Cafe France can’t be classified as a well kept secret! This is an excellent place for people watching and provides a comfortable shady spot to while away summer afternoons.
The building is rumoured to have been sold recently with a scandalous suggestion that it may reopen as a McDonalds restaurant. Surely this would not be allowed in the historic Jemaa al Fnaa which is a UNESCO world heritage site?
What better base could you have to explore the historic medina of Marrakech than one of our boutique Riad Hotels? Marrakech Riad Cinnamon is located near to the Marrakech Museum, Marrakech Riad Papillon is near to the Palace at Dar El Bashah. Reserve accommodation today
We are very proud of our newly installed Moroccan tent on the Roof Terrace at Riad Papillon. Hand made by local craftsmen it is a beautiful and romantic space especially in the evening when it can be lit by candles.
The tent will feature during the winter months and is an excellent place to eat, whether a wonderful breakfast or a delicious evening meal. Why not book a dinner in advance for the evening of your arrival?
Marrakech is always a fun town for people watching, even more so at the moment! Hollywood is in Marrakech and the heart of the Medina is buzzing with activity for the filming of Sex And the City 2.
A few hundred yards from Riad Papillon burly security guards left us in no doubt that amateur photographers were not welcome near the set. The Paparrazi had more success as reported in some of the European press including the Daily Mail
On friday 20th November several streets to the north of the Jema al Fnaa were being used as sets with the choas created by the resulting diversions only adding to the hustle and bustle of the Medina.