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The answer to " Is Marrakech worth visiting? " is an absolute yes!
I decided to go to Marrakech in July, I know it is not the best period for the very high temperature, but I needed sun and a good summer with high degrees; my bones were cold living in Dublin. I had an amazing seven days in the magnificent city of Marrakech; I chose to stay in the same Riad for all the week, and I did some days trip around Marrakech.
In the end, I visited: Marrakech, Essaouira, Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate and Ouzoud Waterfalls
Things to do in Marrakesh
Something to see is the Jardin Majorelle. It is a botanic garden and a place of arts. It was built for a French artist, Majorelle, in 1923 and bought in 1980 from the famous style artist Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Berge. They worked to restore the garden, and the result is fantastic, walking throw seems to enter in a sort of paradise; across particularly plants from all over the world, lakes with big fish and blue building in Oriental style that gives to all the garden a nice colourful atmosphere. Some water-retaining plants are shocking for how big they are.
The only royal palace that can be visited is El Bahia Palace; it was built in the 1860s for wants of Si Mussa grand vizier of Morocco, and It is one of the best palaces for architecture in Marrakech. Bou Ahmed, another Grand Vizier, lived in here with his four wife and 24 concubines. After his death, the court became an official residence for the general of France after the protectorate. El Bahia Palace is in the old Jewish quarter in the southern part of the Medina, we can say that it was a vast Riad, indeed after the first step inside seems to be in another city without all the chaos of the souk; the inside of the palace is in Arabic style with colourful tile, luxury courtyard with fountain and a fantastic garden with orange trees, banana trees and jasmine trees. Some rooms are really nice and still in beautiful conditions like the apartment of the first wife. Unfortunately, they are not so many because when Bou Ahmed died his wife, the concubines and even the staff stole everything from the palace, furniture and interiors ornament... Today Bahia is part of the Royal Palace, and some of the rooms are still used from King Mohammed VI especially for guests, and only a small amount of them can be seen from tourist; a small part but lovely that must be seen.
Close to the Kasbah mosque, we can find the Saadian tombs. They are around 160 tombs and two main mausoleums all in the same unique Oriental style, with colourful tiles, white walls and wood roof. The Saadian arrived in Morocco around the 16th century and chosen Marrakesh as their capital when the dynasty collapsed the tombs were bricked up but not destroyed, and they were rediscovered only in 1917 after a France air parade lap. Now we can admire the amazing Carrara's marble and cedarwood decorated with minimum details. You are not going to spend a lot of time here, but it is a must for the beauty of the place with all the gorgeous decoration.
Another must-see in Marrakesh is absolutely the Badi Palace, today you will see only the ruins of the palace, but with some imagination and the complete photos and description, you will see the great court that was in the past. The palace was built, by the Saadian sultan, in the 16th-century; it took 25 years to finish its construction and some years later arrived sultan Moulay that destroyed the palace and stole the material to build his palace. At the beginning of the visit, you will see some remains of the guests' rooms with the always unique coloured tile floor. After some areas, you will arrive in a massive courtyard with a big fountain in the middle, pools at the corners and all around orange and olives trees. I found it a suggestive place because when you walk into the door, you change entirely landscape, many ruins but also beautiful trees with lemons and orange that gives a lot of colour and the best thing, herons. A lot of white herons with big nests in the walls of the palace or at the tops of the tower, it was a spectacular show.
I arrived in the Jewish cemetery by chance, I was walking through the souk, and at some point, I checked the maps, and I realized that I was in the Jewish neighbourhood and after few steps, I found the cemetery. The cemetery is the largest in Morocco, and an Arabic family guards it; all the area is close to the Royal Palace so that Jewish could benefit from the royal protection. Indeed, King Mohammed VI is still dedicated to protecting Jewish heritage. After the first step inside the gate, you will find an expanse of white decorated and simple tombs all close together.
The heart of Marrakesh is, without a doubt, Jemaa El Fna; it is a vast square where all the people from other parts of Morocco, in the past, used to meet to sell spices, slave and all their products. The first time I arrived in the square was during the daylight. I was a little bit disappointed because I always saw amazing photos of Jemaa El Fna full of people and very lively. Instead, I found juicy vendors, water vendors with a fantastic costume (they wear a red outfit with small bells and a red hat as well), women doing henna tattoos and also some dentists that sells teeth on a table. I realized that it is in the night that the square became crazy. When the sun goes down a lot of people arrived at the square with their little vans, and in a couple of minutes they started to cook delicious food, and all Jemaa El Fna started to smell of meat, fish and other delicious typical food. I ate here only one time because, yes it is strange and different and it is something to do for the delicious food and in particular for the atmosphere. In my opinion, they take benefit from the position in the square to increase the price, especially for the tourist but, of course, it deserves a try at least one time. All around the square, there are a lot of restaurants and a Caffe with a terrace where you can enjoy the sunset and the view of Jemaa El Fna and all the people that crowd it with a mint tea.
Well, I can say that it is not a visit to Marrakech if you don't walk around the souk at least more than one time. The souks are something indescribable, a real labyrinth of streets in the oldest part of the Medina and each route is full of shops and peddlers. You can find unique colourful shops selling typical shoes or dresses or also leather bags, ceramics, of course, spices and a lot of other sensational items. I liked walking among the souk, some stores are beautiful, and some things are wonderfully decorated. You have to prepare yourself because everyone will try to sell you everything from his shop and after a while can be annoying.
A fantastic tour that I did, in the city of Marrakech was the Food Tour. I was a little bit sceptical about this because I booked the tour with a big company that operates all the world and I thought that wasn't good, but I found an exceptional and very prepared guide that not only spoke about food but also explained other exciting things during the tour. The tour started in the main square Jemaa El Fnaa, and we moved around the city; first of all, we went to see a shared bread oven where people are used to bringing the bread dough in the evening and come back in the morning to take the bread now cooked. Then we moved, and I ate the best things I tried in this holiday: Moroccan doughnut and a kind of crepes with onions and peppers inside, it was my first time consuming these specialities because the place where we were is frequented mainly by locals, but the taste was subline and a shocking discovery. After the sublime "starter" we moved for the main course in a small and friendly restaurant, we were on a terrace with Jenna El Fnaa view I ate a succulent and delicious Tajine of meat simmered for 5,6 hours. The tour takes three hours. We not only spoke and discovered food but also some curiosity about the city life and finished in the principal square drinking a decoction based on roots of galanga, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, star anise, black pepper: a digestive after dinner with also aphrodisiac powers.
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