Marrakesh – one of the mythic places of the world? In my notion: well, yes – a mysterious exciting place arousing curiosity over & over again, a very old religious force once reaching up to Southern Spain, a traders’ emporium connecting Sahara desert’s horsemen & warriors w/ Europe & Middle East – as well as a famous hippies’ paradise in the 70s becoming a notorious cosmopolitan party community in the 80s & 90s… until now…
Last week my better half & I made a holiday trip to Marrakesh. When going over my memories I suddenly realized that I’ve got a lot to tell… so I decided to do it twice:
- it’s about “all the monuments we visited” (go on reading!)
- …& a summary of – well: “life & all the rest in it“.
Our reliable travel companions*:
Where to start? Of course in the thick of it!
Speaking of monuments the mosques are allover Marrakesh (aka Medina aka old town) w/ their elaborately decorated minarets. Another fine example is the Kasbah Mosque – also built in the 12th century: just look at the thumbnail picture. Alas! Mosques in Marrakesh are only open to Muslims – so there is no further viewing.
Coming back to Djeema El-Fna the busy center of the Medina: when strolling the Medina you’ll discover soon that somehow you’ll finally always end up in the market place although the Medina is rather large! Our classic sightseeing approach therefore meant that we either took a taxi to a monument & walked back via crossing Djeema El-Fna or we headed for the monument via crossing Djeema El-Fna & took a taxi back home (more on taxis in “life & all the rest in it”).
Another highlight w/ religious background is Ali ben Youssef Medersa, the Koran school founded in the 14th century.
In the inner courtyard:
… & a trip inside the Medersa’s studies:
In the school lived up to 900 scholars – today it’s a historical monument.
We also visited the Saadian Tombs: about 170 graves accompanying the mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour (16th century).
All the graves are watched over by lots of feral cats: look closer to spot one of them amid the tomb slabs.
Enough of mosques & minarets, Koran school & tombs: let’s get some feeling for the palaces. (Well: the Royal Palace is beyond access – of course).
In the 16th century Badi Palace was built – to exist for about 75 years (it was destroyed by the next ruler over Marrakesh). It’s a vast symmetrically designed palace w/ an interesting “underworld”…
Under the gardens, the water basins & the buildings are lots of corridors & chambers meant for servants to do the housework, the cooking, transporting whatever was ordered w/o disturbing the Sultan…
Bahia Palace (from 19th century) is beautifully restored & even used for official functions by the King of Morocco. There are several courtyards & walled gardens, mosaic-covered floors & walls & beautiful wooden ceilings…
Some palaces have been turned into museums: my personal opinion is that it’s worth visiting the museums alone because of the palaces…
Let’s begin with the Musée de Marrakech in the Dar Menebhi Palace (from the 19th century):
The yellowish shine is due to the effect that the main courtyard was roofed over having the museum artifacts in mind.
Finally we’ve found Dar Si Said – well hidden near Bahia Palace. The Palace turned museum was also built in the 19th century, but time has left its imprints – only few rooms seem to be restored until now.
…& now: Le Jardin Majorelle (aka The Blue Villa aka YSL’s former home in Marrakesh (in the Nouvelle Ville):
This is the end! No – of course it’s not the end: tbc (aka to be continued) about life & the rest of it…
For today I think you’ve got an impression of the mosques & minarets, the palaces, the courtyards & the inner gardens &… Marrakesh is full of history laid out in sunshine inviting you to stroll the Medina & its alleyways looking for its hidden treasures.
…& once again our travel companions*: