From the thriving market place to the sumptuous, authentic food, the city offers both plenty spectacles and peaceful serenity. First came the culture shock of entering Jemma el Fna, this is the most famous square in the medina of Marrakesh, apes, snake charmers, peddlers, magicians and traditional market food. This square was given to the son of Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah in the late 18th century. Churchill famous visiting the square in the 1930s describing the vicinity as ‘the most lovely spot in the whole world’ and I can honestly say I whole heartedly agree! The language barrier didn’t exist if you show genuine curiosity; remember to immerse yourself in local culture with a harqus hand painting, the traditional method of semi permanent tattoo.
The Mamounia Gardens ooze spirituality, sexuality and tranquillity, with greenness surrounding with over 20 acres of flowers, palm and bushes. The fresh fragrant of the orange trees stain your clothing and tingle your senses, nothing can prepare you. You can also do an excursion to the Atlas Mountains and the Ourika Valley and waterfalls, the villages are full of traditional Moroccan food, you truly submerge yourself into the unexpected sounds, sights and tastes of true Morocco, buy your fruit off the street, barter with the locals for woven carpets, ornate metal work and discuss ancient recipes in the crowded bazaars.
And when night falls, sleep in a villa with a rooftop pool and a mountain view, a luxury hotel boasting sunlit gardens, or a Bedouin camp under a ceiling of stars. The Chez Pierre overlooks the idyllic mountain view, with a pool to cool off, a candlelit dinner accompanied by live music and traditional Moroccan dancing. Whether you are after full board, self catering or serviced apartments they offer it all, with music under the stars and vast views of the mountains.
Maison de la Photographie is a museum located in the heart of Marrakesh; it consists of a collection of 3500 photographs covering the period 1870-1950. The thousands of old photographs construct the first film recorded in high-atlas colour, in 1957 by Daniel Chicault. It is a quiet escape from the bustling city of Marrakesh. You walk out feeling like you have a better understanding of Moroccan life; the shop sells exquisite print s of all over the city of Ria and the rooftop cafe offers lunch and refreshment – making it a perfect end to a lovely afternoon.
If you are planning a visit to Marrakesh then the Medina is a maze of narrow bustling streets dotted with squares and cafes that surpasses expectation. The enticing smells of the warm spices and freshly cooked olives make you want to stop at every stall, but there is so much to see and do that you could easily spend over a day there, so try and stick to 2-3 hours as the spices can leave you a little light headed. Most of the market stall holders speak English, however the prices are expensive as they are aimed at tourists and so it’s essential to haggle. Watch out for the scooters though as they come whizzing past without warning!
Bio: Karen James is a self-proclaimed lover of travel with a taste for self catering luxury such as Citystay’s Cambridge serviced apartments. When she’s not writing or travelling the world, she is busy writing and running two businesses, looking after her grandchildren and walking her dogs.