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.
For a window into Islamic culture in the Mahgreb and the religious institutions that greatly influenced its development. One can do a lot worse than to visit the Ben Youssef Madrassa. Originally founded during the 14th Century during the Marinid Period by Sultan Abu al-Hassan, the building was first brought to great prominence by its reconstruction and overhaul from 1564-65 by the Sultan Abdul al- Hassan.
Since that point it was the largest Madrassa in the whole of Morocco, bringing the city great prestige and cultural influence. The Ben Youssef was no ordinary school however, it was more akin to a self contained educational community. With 132 rooms and hundreds of students living and learning within its magnificent walls. This combined with its location
in the Medina in the historic old town, just a few minutes walk from the Central square Djemaa el Fna makes it one of Marrakech’s primary cultural destinations. Once you enter the building you immediately see why it is such a famous place in the Islamic world. The architecture and decoration proudly displays many of the facets and aspects of Islamic building and design that has made them so renowned for their beauty and aesthetic appeal. Inside the Madrassa is a myriad of tesselated colours, blues and greens beautifully contrasting with browns and white. The courtyard which is adjacent to the prayer room is truly a beautiful place one in which it is very difficult to not have a feeling of great tranquillity even in the famed Moroccan heat. One can also not fail to notice the intricate inscriptions which abound all over the complex. It is not merely the incredible shaped which these inscriptions take but the incredible detail which the inscriptions take, one can scarcely fail to be amazed by the delicacy and fantastical patterns in the form of the writing . It is however not merely your average tourists who have come to appreciate the wonders of this place but indeed it has become a favoured place to visit for passing royals as in recent years the Madrassa has been visited both by the King and Queen of the Netherlands and the Queen of Spain, surely a ringing endorsement from European royalty. All these things coupled with the Madrassa’s prime location and relative ease of access make it a must for any culture or history buffs visiting Marrakech.
Opening Times: Every day from 9h30 to 18pm
Entrance fee: 50 dh for the Adult and 30 dh for children
You can purchase a joint ticket to visit both the Medersa and the Musee De Marrakech
Our Riad Cinnamon
is located an easy 5 minutes stroll away meaning that a stay with us leaves you fully capable of taking full advantages of such a fantastic base in the heart of Marrakech’s historical and cultural heart and one the undoubted advantages of staying in such a fantastic location. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the markets, soak in the vibrant culture of the surrounding museums and historic sites, then retreat to the luxury of Riad Cinnamon
before once more plunging back into the immersive experience that is Marrakech old town. Make a booking today
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