Exploring ‘The Red City’ of Marrakech – A Destination Rich in History and Culture
Marrakech is one of the most exotic and enchanting places in the world. Although Marrakech is not the capital of Morocco, this vibrant city’s appeal never fails to entice tourists from around the world to come and visit. If you’re seeking the ultimate Moroccan experience and Marrakech is on your bucket list, keep reading to learn more about this amazing destination.
Why is Marrakech known as “The Red City”?
Marrakech preserves the remains of a bygone era by maintaining the aesthetic glory of a time that was never forgotten. This starts with the 10 miles of red wall that surround it. This structure is an invitation for millions of wanderers who visit the city to appreciate its beauty and uniqueness—not to mention that the city has been an axis of culture and trade for ages.
Marrakech’s mesmerizing red walls, palaces, and alleys offer tranquility and a restive hub for both locals and visitors. The city is held together by a prosperous and lively tradition that traces back a thousand years.
While the city’s biggest impression might be the enchanting red wall, it takes an exploring spirit and a curious mind to walk down to the city square. Other exhilarating sights will prevail in the courtyard as snake charmers, hawkers, and street musicians fill the streets, adding to Marrakech’s quaint charm.
In the sunset, the colors deepen, and the shade intensifies and appears to cover the whole cityscape. Close by or from miles away, the city embraces a romantic color all its own, almost like a scene in Casablanca. Marrakech is the only city in the world that can combine both chaotic elements and ancient heritage into a timeless, romantic ambiance.
The antiquity of Marrakech
Marrakech has stood for almost 1000 years, and is of such significance to Morocco that the nation’s own name stems from the name of the city. In the 16th century, the Saadians founded the city and built it up to magnificence. It survived times of plague and great famine, as well as a military conflict. In essence, Marrakech is engulfed with history.
The junction of numerous exotic cultures starts here in the Red City. African, European, and Arabic influences are found in the streets, people, and heritage monuments.
The color of Marrakech doesn’t come from an ingrained philosophy, but simply from the unadorned architecture and materials of the Red Sea. Marrakech is a symbol of power and a fortress built during the Almovirades’ reign. The whimsical squares, gardens, statues, and towering obelisks are all designed using a method known as the Tabia – built from a combination of water and red mud from the Hazou plains.
Despite the modernization of today’s world, the people of Marrakech still uphold the same idiosyncrasies and attire as their ancestors.
The psychedelic range of tradition and culture in Marrakech has always succeeded in fascinating its visitors. The pink-hued walls, flourishing green date palms, and vibrant indigo sky lights up a stage for its people as they dance to the rhythm of life, clothed in the jazziness of their heritage. That’s the most accurate illustration of Marrakech.
The magical Medina of Marrakech
Have you ever wished you could jump into a scene from Aladdin? Where the word “beautiful” doesn’t quite do justice to how chaotic and, at the same time, magical a place is? That’s how a visitor would see the Medina of Marrakech.
In old Arabic, the term “medina” means city, and this modern-day, the word “medina” is used interchangeably to indicate downtown or the ancient city itself. The souks represent an Arabic market where you can find winding streets filled with local people, lively merchants, impressive doorways with beautiful Moorish designs and finishes, and remarkable monuments. Enclosed by 12 miles of red walls built around it, the medina’s souks are the largest in North Africa, and the Medina of Marrakech is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Exploring the medina by foot is one of Marrakech’s finest enjoyments. It’s a whirlwind of emotions as you try to understand the narrow streets while being distracted by unexpected experiences, like people putting snakes on your shoulders, or the scents of colorful spices and herbs that are strange yet alluring. It can be a tad hectic, but it’s worth it! Moreover, you’ll discover historical gems like Bahia Palace and smell the leather tanneries on Rue de Bab Debbagh.
As you explore, you will eventually find yourself in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, also known as the star of the medina. At night, this open-air theatre will be brimming with storytellers, dancers, henna artists, and street performances, filling up the square.
While in Medina, you should try most if not all of the cuisine you see. What’s the best way to understand one’s culture if not by food? Instead of drinking coffee in a swanky coffee shop, dive into the medina, find good local eats and challenge your gastronomic experience. Enjoy a cup of Moroccan tea near Jemaa el-Fnaa square and witness the cafe’s vibrant life, especially during the evening. Watching the locals in their diverse spectrum is simply incredible.
Visit the gardens and the parks
Most of the time the city has sunshine year-round, so naturally, there are many remarkable gardens and parks to visit. Majorelle Garden is the most famous of them all, built by the French artist Jacques Majorelle. Yves Saint Laurent is often connected to it also, especially for his role in rehabilitating the botanical garden into the picturesque and colorful oasis it is today.
Arsat Moulay Abdeslam, also popularly known as Cyber Park, is a favorite amongst locals and a good place to sit back and enjoy the free Wi-Fi available throughout the park. But if you prefer to be on Marrakech’s outskirts, Palmeraie Park is in the oasis, built surrounded by palm trees.
If you’re visiting Marrakech for the first time, be prepared to get lost in the souks (Arab markets). The medina is a maze of windy walkways with vibrant shops and merchants. Take it as part of the experience and something to be remembered along the way. But if you yearn for something peaceful and quiet, you’ll be happy to know that there is much more to the Red City than its medina. ‘arak qaribana!
Farah Kasman is a proud wife and mother of two. Her passions are travel, fashion, and writing. She previously worked in the fashion industry but is now a full-time blogger and SEO content creator. She loves making delicious, home-cooked meals for her family and believes that a healthy lifestyle is the key to a happy life. In her spare time, she writes destination guides for her blog, providing inspiration for travel seekers worldwide and adding to her bucket list of travel ideas.