Whilst walking around Marrakech, it is impossible not to notice how many of the doors, window shutters and wooden tables are carefully adorned with exquisite carvings or intricately painted tessellated patterns. These humble items extend far beyond their functional use: the beautiful designs, that are so unique to the region, represent a certain respect for traditional design and artisanal techniques that is prevalent throughout society.
Where it is easy to find small stalls in the Souks inhabited by skilled workers making beautiful wooden item like small boxes or chess sets, items that are perfect for souvenirs, it is perhaps more difficult to find the workshops that make the larger items like the Riad doors, the carved wooden panelling and so on. Located a short walk form the Jemaa el-Fna square, just metres away from Dar Habiba we found Abdil’s workshop. Abdil, a quiet man of little words, invited us into his space to show us his work: we looked through a series of beautifully painted panels that he uses as samples to demonstrate his work to clients before he showed us a carved doorframe he was currently working on for a Riad renovation. He explained that he mainly works for local businesses, but he has in the past also worked for visitors to Marrakech who wanted to take home a unique item to furnish their house. Perhaps you will need more than the basic hand luggage allowance to take home such an item, but a custom-made piece of artisanal history would maybe be the greatest souvenir of all.
Abdil’s shop is located just off the ‘Woodworking’ Medina Walk on the free MarrakechRiad app; but it is well worth the detour, especially if you are interested in bringing home a special memory of Morocco. 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.
During your visit to Morocco you will discover Marrakech’s central square (Jemaa al-Fnaa) to be a sensory overload of sight, taste and sound whether you visit at night or at day.
One stall that you might hear before you see however, are the various CD sellers that are scattered about Jemaa al-Fnaa. As well as selling a variety of local music that’s impossible to buy hard copies of in Europe, come night and day they will be setting the rhythm of the square, filling the air with the sounds of Gnawa and the Arab world.
After working with a team of international journalists and DJ’s on a radio station in Oslo, Norway I’ve become keen to find new and interesting sounds that don’t make it onto the airwaves in the British Isles.
So after approaching one of the stalls I was delighted when the stall owner, whose name was Jalid came over to tell me more about the types of music the stalls collect. Jalid informs me that the stall collects Western sounds as well as Arabic, Berber, Gnawa and traditional Arabic music from artist’s hailing from all over North Africa.
Jalid goes on to tell me that in the 5 years he has been working in Jemaa al-Fnaa he has developed a love for house music. So after a long week’s work Jalid and his friends exchange the timeless traditional characteristics of the Marrakech Medina for the bright lights and modern bustle of the new town of Guiliez, in search of discos and contemporary music.
During your stay in Marrakech, strike up conversation with one of the many music salesmen scattered through the city square, they will be delighted to hear you take an interest in the native sounds of North Africa. They will also be more than happy to recommend an artist for you and a CD from a local musician makes for an eye opening gift for a friend back home.
Finally, don’t be too shy to recommend some music from your own corner of the world to the salesmen themselves! Music is their passion and they will only thank you for it. Jemaa al-Fnaa is the beating heart of the red city of Marrakech and is only a 10 minute walk from the luxury Riad Star.
The donkey and cart is a common sight in the medina of Marrakech where the streets are too narrow for truck and vans. These docile and dependable creatures, known as ‘brill’ in arabic are essential to everyday life.
A Riad hotel in the Medina is the perfect base from which to explore and experience this ancient way of life at first hand.
The shrine of Sidi Abdelaziz, one of the seven holy men or saints of Marrakech, is located at the top of the Rue Mouassine at it’s junction with the Rue Riad Larrouss. In common with most mosques and religious sites in Morocco access is forbidden to non muslims, however the shrine can be seen through a small window from the street.
Free Wifi is available to guests in our Marrakech Riads. Ask for the password to our secure network on arrival at the hotel. The ground floor patio area near the pool is the best place for reception. The Riads are ancient buildings in the Marrakech Medina with walls more than one metre thick so reception can vary within the rooms.
Dar Habiba, Riad Cinnamon and Riad Papillon have been painstakingly restored by skilled craftsmen combining authentic features with modern comforts like air conditioning, satellite tv, ipod docking stations and WIFI internet access.
Breakfast is served at any time you wish and consists of freshly prepared crepes, fresh fruit, medina breads and jams as well as tea coffee and moroccan specialities on request.
A variety of local speciality dishes are available on request including Bissara (made with butterbeans) and white Harira, a kind of porridge/ soup.
Marrakech is the perfect holiday location! Only three hours flight from Europe. Marrakech ofers unlimited shopping in the famous souks! the incomparable Jemaa al fnaa square! historic monuments and museums! the chic new town of Guiliez!
Stay in a traditonal Marrakech Riad and experience the old town medina first hand.
Bissara is the Marrakech variant of Foul (pronounced ‘fool’) a puree based on fava beans. A wholesome entirely vegetarian and gluten free food Bissara has a wonderful buttery flavour and makes an excellent and substantial breakfast.
At Marrakech Riad Papillon and Marrakech Riad Cinnamon Bissara is seasoned in the traditional Marrakechi way with salt, pepper and cumin. We serve it with olive oil and fresh medina breads to allow our more adventurous guests to enjoy authentic Medina cusisine.