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!

Mohamed Sidi Ben Slimane al-Jazouli is not only considered as one of the seven patronsS  of Marrakech, but he is also recognised for his holiness throughout the Islamic world. As an Islamic scholar and Imam, Sidi Ben Slimane al-Jazouli, often known as “Imam al-Jazuli”,  is best known for compiling the Dala’il al-Khayrat, an extremely popular Muslim prayer book.

Although there are many saints in Marrakech, the most notable are the Seven Saints of Marrakech and it is possible to trace their influence around the city. Not only is there the seven saints Monument, dedicated to all the saints, but Mohamed Sidi Ben Slimane al-Jazouli also has a district named after him in his honor. Incidentally, outside the College Mohammed V (pictured above) in the Ben Slimane al-Jazouli neighborhood is primary pick up and drop off points for Riad Cinnamon and Raid Star, both situated in close proximity in the heart of the Medina. Perhaps the Sidi Ben Slimane will also be your gateway into Marrakech and the beginning of your exploration of this wonderful city.

The Ben Slimane al-Jazouli is also the start point of our ‘Clay and Iron’ Medina walk, a curated tour traces the historic, cultural and current importance of the clay and iron industry across Marrakech’s old town alongside our collected local knowledge and unique observations. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Iron and Clay’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.

Nestled in the heart of Gueliz you can find the first Church to be built in Marrakech, The Saint Martyrs Church (L’Eglise des Saints Martyrs). As seen in the photo above, The Saint Martyrs Church is located opposite an equally stunning Mosque on Rue el Iman Ali . The face to face, almost symmetrical configuration of these two places of worship is often seen by local Marrakchis as a symbol of inter-religous tolerance in modern Morocco.

This catholic church was built under the French protectorate in 1928; some historians claim that this church inspired the name of Marrakech’s new town, Gueliz. However, this is often disputed by others who claim that the origin of the word comes from the sandstone found in nearby quarries.

If you are visiting Marrakech and would like to attend a mass at the The Saint Martyrs Church, there is a mass every weekday at 6.30pm and a 10.30am mass and a  6.30pm vigil on Sundays. Our Riad staff would be more than happy to phone ahead to check these times are correct.

Koutoubia Mosque at night

P1000228During Ramadan, every night after the sun has set and their fast has been broken, many Muslims go to the mosque for extra prayers called Salat Atarawih. When night falls in Marrakech, many local people quickly descend on the Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech’s largest and oldest mosque, in an effort to find a place to pray inside for the Salat Atarawih prayers. Unfortunately, despite Koutoubia’s impressive size, there is not enough space inside to fit everyone who wants to pray. Therefore, during Ramadan, large speaker systems are installed so crowds of people can pray outside.

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These people praying outside need prayer carpets as they have often not prepared for this eventuality. Therefore it is not uncommon to find a few sellers setting up a small stall near to Koutoubia selling carpets. The mass prayer outside Koutoubia during ramadan is a site to behold; even if you are not Muslim, or even if you are not religious, the coming together of a community is truly heartwarming and the silence that falls over the crowd when the prayer begins provides a stunning moment of peace in an otherwise bustling and vibrant city.