Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco, and one of the major former (Berber) imperial cities. If we ever had to pick any one specific city that neatly encapsulates all of Morocco, this city (whose name is actually the origin of the current English name of the country) would probably be our pick.
To start with there's the scenery: with the mighty Atlas in the background, the Sahara at half a morning's drive away and the Atlantic in similarly easy reach, Marrakesh is pretty close to all the magnificent scenery (and different atmospheres) Morocco has to offer tourists. The city therefore is a perfect gateway to other destinations, which in itself is a solid reason for spending some time here.
Inside of Marrakesh, the old Medina and modern parts of the city like Gueliz stand in stark contrast. For tourists the Medina will capture most of the attention, and the best place to start exploring is the market square of Djemaa El-Fna (which really comes alive at night!) plus adjacent souks. This is the chaotic heart of the activity, and hanging around on the square or browsing the labyrinthesque alleys is not for the faint-hearted. Thankfully the shop touts are only *slightly* pushy, and besides soaking in the atmosphere and smells of the place it is a great spot to shop for anything from souvenirs, shoes, spices, clothes and so on.
If you think that is it, we have news for you. No, you are just getting started. The 12th century Koutoubia Mosque is the city's landmark (more specifically it's 70 meters tall minaret), visible from many parts of the city and must be gotten up close with. The Ben Youssef Madrassa with its intricate decorations and courtyards is stunning inside, and the same can be said for the Saadian Tombs (where 60 members of the Saadi Dynasty, 1554-1659, are interred). The El Bahia Palace and Dar Si Said Museum (arts and crafts of Morocco) are other cultural sights to be looked out for, while for those who enjoy greenery we wanted to make a special mention of the Palmaries (date palm groves on the outsides of Marrakesh) and Majorelle (cactus) Gardens. [Review by travelindicator]
- Marrakesh is a city in Morocco's region of Marrakech. It has a population of 928,850, is situated at an altitude of 1535ft and the best airport to fly into is RAK (Menara, Marrakech)
- The main spoken language here is Arabic, and the average English skill is low
- Note: Marrakesh is a good point of entry for trips to Morocco as it is well internationally connected (by air)
- The currency used in Morocco is the Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Other cities in the region (Marrakech, Morocco)
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More Marrakesh travel resources
TimeOut calls Marrakesh one of the "perfect" places in Morocco. The NY Times spent 36 hours here, while the Telegraph also wrote a city break guide. We always mention Wikitravel and Lonely Planet, but better sources may be travel blogs such as these.