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.
Bab Er-Robb, which translates as ‘Lord’s Gate’, was used for controlling spirits; nowadays it functions as the main entrance into the Medina. Whereas Bab Er-Robb is perhaps not as visually stunning as it’s close neighbor, Bab Agnaou, it is possible to find a beautiful rose garden and comfortable shady benches less than 10 metres from the gate, along the ramparts.
As the most southern of Marrakech’s 19 gates, the Bab Er-Robb often functions as passageway to the roads that lead out of Marrakech; indeed, less than 200m away from the gate itself you can find the Grand Taxis who offer affordable travel to the Atlas Mountains or to the coastal town of Essaouira. If you are looking to take a Grand Taxi on a day trip or on a long excursion, our Riad staff will be able to give you guidance.
While it’s nearby neighbor Bab er-Robb acts as the official entrance to the city, Bab Agnaou functions as the main entrance to the Kasbah which is the site of the El Badi Palace, the Saadian Tombs and the El Mansouria (the kasbah mosque). Bab Aganou is perhaps the most unique of Marrakech’s nineteen gates and it’s original function, as a royal entrance, is perhaps the reason for this. The corner-pieces are decorated with floral decorations extending around a shell is simply exquisite and this ornamentation is framed by three panels and on these panels is an inscription from the Quran.
Built in the 12th century in the time of the Almohad dynasty, Bab Aganou was originally built in blue-grey stone from Gueliz. Nowadays it has become nearly as red as the ramparts that surround it, thanks to the desert sand brought by the wind.
The Bab Agnaou also marks the finishing point of our ‘Woodworking’ Medina walk available for free on our Marrakech Riad app. If you would like to find out more about the Woodworking walk or any of other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be more than happy to help.
A late night stroll through Marrakech’s central square, Jemaa al-Fnaa will lead you to encounter all kinds of the weird and the wonderful.
However 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.
The evil eye is said to have the capability to affect anyone, however those of us who are deemed highly attractive need to take the most caution. As the risk of suffering from the ill-effects of the evil eye grow in proportion to ones beauty.
Sacred talismans such as those sold in the square of Jemaa al-Fnaa have been used by certain people in Moroccan culture for centuries to ward off the evil eye. And for a loved one back home a souvenir such as this makes for a gift that is absolutely unique to this corner of the world.
Jemaa al-Fnaa is an ancient space that is humming with interesting legends such as this one and is easily accessible via a 10 minute stroll from the luxury Riad Papillon.
The 7 Saints is a cosy Café-Restaurant in the southern reaches of the central square of Marrakech, Jemaa al-Fnaa.
At the 7 Saints you will be able to find traditional Moroccan cuisine as well as good variety of European dishes such as panini’s and pizzas.
It’s easy to glance over the name, ‘7 Saints’ and not think anything of it, however the restaurant takes it’s title from 7 holy men who came to live in the red city in times long gone past. Under the Berber Almoravid dynasty, Marrakech became the capital of an Empire that spread through North Africa and into Spain.
In this time of great prosperity and opulence, the red city became a cultural and religious magnet. Over time 7 Holy saints of Islam came to live and die within the ramparts of Marrakech. The significance of this is huge, if you were to ask Marrakshi locals which city they hail from in Darija Arabic, in passing some would reply, “from the 7 Saints” as opposed to Marrakech.
Intriguing local history aside, the 7 Saints is the ideal place to cool down and enjoy some refreshments after a day spent under the rays of the fierce Moroccan sun. Unlike many restaurants in the square the 7 Saints is equipped with mist sprays and excellent WiFi.
Ask a waiter for a café special, for only 10 Dirhams (£0.75) you will be presented with a rich, creamy and slightly sweet local coffee that makes the perfect partner to a Moroccan salad.
The 7 saints is a five minute stroll from the Riad Dar Habiba, a traditional Moroccan Riad converted into a luxury hotel, conveniently located directly in the heart of the Marrakech Medina.
A beautiful palace situated in the south of Marrakech’s historic medina, originally built between 1553-1578 by the Sadiaan king Ahmad al-Mansur to host guests and to act as a residence for him and his family as Marrakech was at the time the capital of Morocco the palace was extensively used. Today however the palace is a historical and cultural sight as opposed to a functioning royal palace with that function ending in the late 17th century when parts of the palace were pulled down so they could be used in the construction of a new palace for the sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif, who decided in order to overshadow the rulers who had come before him it was necessary to dismantle some of their palaces in order to make his all the more impressive. This means that today the palace is essentially a set of ruins, however to describe it merely as such is to insult the majesty of the site that greets one’s eyes upon entering into the complex, the majestic architecture may indeed not be what it once was, but that does not mean it is not still something to behold.
The interior of the Palace is huge with the ground split into four quadrants all containing olive trees around which one can walk. This gives the area a very organic feel and adds a nice splash of colour to the pink and sandy walls, this in contrast to the two large pools which go down the centre of the square give the palace a majestic look and one can certainly put their mind back to the times of the sultans as they walk along the pathways that cross the area of the former palace.
Entrance to the palace is a very reasonable 10 Dirhams meaning that one can take in the cultural and historic sights of this amazing place for less than a pound.
open daily from 9h to 16h 45 / except during Ramadan