Most people who have an interest in visiting Marrakech have heard of the Majorelle Gardens. The sprawling expanse of plants from all over the world, the Majorelle blue accent walls, and the Yves Saint Laurent museum garner hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. A lesser known (and much cheaper) element of the space is the Berber Museum. While the Yves Saint Laurent museum on the property costs 100 dirhams for entrance (the garden itself has a 70 dirham entrance fee), the Berber museum only costs 30 dirhams and it is fascinating.
The space is small, with only a few rooms, but the artifacts are incredible. Daguerrotypes of Berber villages taken by French troops in the 1920s, original jewelry, clothing, and tools from Berber communities all over Morocco are spread throughout. Each room features a specific collection of items. The most visually stunning exhibit there is the jewelry collection, housed in a small room lined with mirrors and sprinkled with blue lights, giving the illusion of being surrounded by stars in space. Artifacts from specific regions are housed in glass cases, with colorfully adorned busts sporting some of the most intricate designs perched on top. The room exudes a sense of pride and wonderment at the spectacular handicrafts of the Berber people who made them.
The Berber people are the original inhabitants of Morocco. They have their own language (called Shlehha in Arabic or Amazigher in English), system of writing, and cuisine. The Berber people are expert craftsmen. Their rich textiles, beautiful music, and stunning jewelry are definitely worth seeing. Berbers originate from North Africa and have lived in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt for thousands of years. Nowadays, everyone living in the Atlas Mountains is Berber. Those of Arab origins live throughout Morocco, but in the Atlas Mountains and around the Agadir region, you will only find Berbers. (For the record, the Arabs came to Morocco during the expansion of the Islamic Empire. Arabs originate from seven Middle Eastern countries: Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman.)
There is also a terrific selection of old Jewish artifacts in the museum, including centuries-old menorahs, hamsas, and a mezuzah! Most Marrakshis are Muslim, so it was cool for us to see some Jewish things highlighted here.
Unfortunately, the museum doesn’t allow photography, but we urge you to take a visit next time you’re in Marrakech to see the splendor yourself.