The Arsat gardens of Marrakech

‘Arsat’ is a term coined by the 19th century writer and Islamic scholar Hocine El Yamani, it’s meaning is to indicate the urban spaces which were cultivated and transformed into botanical gardens by the order of the kings of the Alaouite dynasty.

These gardens have held a key significance in Moroccan culture for many centuries, from acting as a space in which to debate local political matters to being a location in which families and friends can organise a N’zaha (a picnic ritual involving tanjia, tea and Marrakshi songs).

As the gardens sprung up in the times of the Alaouites, they took on the names of individuals of significance, such as Arsat Moulay, Arsat Salam, Arsat Ghandafi, Arsat Naciri, Arsat Louarzazi in the red city of Marrakech. Other times however, the gardens take on the names of particular fruits that grow amongst their leaves, such as Arset Zitoun (olives), Arsat Lhamed (lemon), Arsat Nkhel (palms) and Arsat Limoun (orange).

The notion of the Arsat can mean a variety of things for different people, but one unifying feature is that the gardens are a space of serenity and of harmony. Our luxury Riad Hotels are but a short walk from any one of the Arsat botanical gardens scattered across the red city of Marrakech.

Marrakech Jemaa al Fnaa Map

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Many visitors to Morocco are familiar with Tagine, the classic slow cooked Moroccan meal prepared in a cone shaped clay pot of the same name.  The ancient City of Marrakech has a signature slow cooked dish which is even more special, the TANJIA.

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.  The minimum cooking time for Tanjia is an incredible five hours at the end of which the meat is tender, succulent and tasty.

Our friend Simohammed is responsible for the ‘Farnaatchi’ wood fired boiler room of the hamman two minutes from Riad Cinnamon in the Central Medina. Simohammed is a proud Marrakech Tanjia cook as well as being an instinctive and talented gnawa musician. For special occasions Mohammed can come to our Marrakech Riads and perform. Here he invites you into his Farnatchi, demonstrates how to prepare Tanjia and welcomes you to the Marrakech!

Ovens like this have been firing the hammams of Marrakech for centuries. See how the fire flares when Mohammed feeds it with sawdust, a byproduct from the local artisans in the Marrakech souks.

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To experience the Real Marrakech stay in the heart of the ancient Medina in a Luxury Riad Hotel. Browse our rooms and suites before making your reservation.

Individual suites at Riad Cinnamon:
Fez EssaouiraChefchaouen | CasablancaMeknes

Luxurious en suite rooms at Riad Papillion:

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