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.
Commissioned by Ali Ben Yousef back in 1126, the ramparts that surround Marrakech’s old town have become the symbol of the red city. Standing at 8-10m high they once provided protection for the inhabitants of Marrakech and, until the early 20th century, the 10 gates that give access to the Medina (Marrakech’s old town) were locked every night. Today, the ramparts are a lot more welcoming. You will find that they are often lined with neat hedgerows, rose gardens and benches; indeed they have become a popular meeting and resting place for many locals.
You may notice that the walls themselves are marked with numerous holes. Where you could be fooled into believing that these holes were formed by canon blasts or birds looking for somewhere to nest, they 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.
To discover the ramparts you can take a caléche (a hourse drawn cart), for a four-hour ride including walking breaks at points of interest.