TRAVEL IN THE MEDINA OF MARRAKECH
The medina of Marrakech … what a place of life and meetings, what a world !
Built in 1071 by the Almoravids, the medina of Marrakech is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It’s a source of inspiration and fascination (lights, colors, smells, animations …) and the heart of the ocher city. Entering the medina, we open the door of Morocco and discover a fascinating country.
We find there many impressive architectural masterpieces and innumerable places and markets.
The Koutoubia mosque, the Ben Youssef medresa, the Mouassine district, the famous Jemma El Fna square and the souks … And so many other wonders, not to mention the palaces, gardens, fountains and riads.
We meet artisans, herbalists and storytellers. We eat tagines the street and wander over time … This is what we are looking for when coming to Marrakech.
Let’s go … Follow Mr. Sadouk, an official guide of Marrakech. We will travel, we will live an unique experience.
Meeting point: a door … There are 19 “and more…”. Some are real masterpieces.
Before being a touristic destination, Marrakech was a fortress built to protect the inhabitants from the travelling caravans.
It was Ali Ben Youssef of the Almoravid dynasty who built the first ramparts to protect themselves from the Almohads. Today, the ramparts are 19km long and shelter around 1 000 000 people. All in all, 19 doors were built.
A door, it’s the junction between Guéliz (the modern city) and the Medina (the traditional city). The doors are also the junctions between the tumultuous life of the “Derbs” of the medina and the peaceful life of the riads.
For all lovers of stones and wood ; thousands are to be discovered !
Let’s go back … Take the “Derb” and go see a fondouk (or caravane-sérail in French).
The fondouks are traditional houses built in a square around a courtyard. They are places of trade and commerce. In the Middle Ages, the caravans that linked Saharan Africa to southern Morocco used them to barter merchandise brought back during long journeys. With modernization, they were replaced by private homes and warehouses as traders became sedentary and prosperous. Today, some are converted into “guest houses”. Places full of stories, in which impersonalized a nomad from the “end of the world”.
Come, this man calls us; it’s a herbalist …
“Salam alaikoum. My name is SiMohamed, I am a herbalist. My father was and my grandfather as well. We sell spices, oils, plants and incense. All our products are natural and from fair trade. Come visit me, we will discuss the benefits of plants and the need to protect them. They are so precious. »
Plants are the basis of traditional Moroccan medicine. They have great power over all evils. Morocco has a varied climates, which makes possible to have a great diversity of plants. Morocco has 4,200 different species of plants of which 400 are recognized for their medicinal and aromatic uses. Morocco is ranked 12th in the world among medicinal plant producers.
Spices are widely used in Moroccan cuisine (coriander, ginger, cumin, paprika, pepper, garlic, clove or saffron). They perfume all emblematic dishes (Tajines, Couscous, Pastillas, Tanjia … and all the desserts). A thousand smells, a thousand colors, a thousand atmospheres.
Herbalists are exciting and fascinating. A guided tour allows you to meet these men who tell the story. Sit down and open your senses, you will be in first place.
It’s tea time. Let’s go and drink a mint tea in a riad.
Go through the door of a riad; it’s going to another world.
In effervescence outside, here inside the time no longer exists. What a sensation !
Riads are traditional houses. They are completely closed on the inside to protect themselves from outside looks, but also from the heat and noise of the street. The patio, in the middle, is built with a basin and arranged with one (or more) tree. This development offers freshness and serenity.
Some riads are decorated in a traditional way, others are more modern. The combination of the two is a beautiful mix.
The owners use objects brought back from the High Atlas, the Sahara, the Atlantic coast or the Great South. Lamps, tables, doors, chests: all old and luxurious objects. These atmospheres will transport you to different worlds … The “Arabian Nights”, the cave of Ali Baba or the life of Laurence of Arabia.
Far from the stress and the daily life, the riads allow to live the authenticity of the Moroccan life.
Places … gathering places.
The best known of all : the Jemaa El Fna square. It is the cultural and social center of Marrakech. It is located between the minaret of Koutoubia and the alleys of the souks.
Around are cafes and restaurants. The terraces and panoramic views are the first lodges of a play in the open air theater. Snake charmers, monkey tamers, tooth pullers, counters, acrobats, fortune tellers and all the other merchants are there to liven up the place.
At dusk, the magic takes place. All the lanterns light up, the restaurants are moving and the SHOW MUST GO ON!
Give meaning to the word “travel” …
By Jérôme Bellet
Dunes & Desert organizes visits to the medina with the best official guides of Marrakech. Visit our website and book a city tour online with the promo code MEDINA to enjoy a 10% discount. (Valid until 31/03/2020).