Marrakech: A Travel Story

I couldn’t believe I was finally in Africa! I was beyond excited when I first arrived in Morocco. I had heard so many interesting stories and seen breathtaking pictures of this country from social media.
My first stop, Marrakech. This city is divided into two parts, medina (old city) and the modern part. Like any other old cities, you can find narrow cobbled roads inside the Marrakech Medina. Inside the medina, you can find the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco selling wares ranging from traditional carpet, jewellery, beauty products to modern electronics.
There are two types of accommodation in Morocco, riad and dar. Riad literally means garden but in this case, the riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard and a central fountain. If an accommodation doesn’t have a garden and a fountain, it’s called a dar or house. My travel companions and I stayed in Riad Le Bel Oranger, inside the medina.
The riad’s manager, Azis, welcomed us with Moroccan mint tea. It was a hot day when we arrived and I thought ice tea is more suitable for the weather. So I asked for ice and he looked at me like I was crazy. “You don’t drink mint tea with ice. Maybe they do it in Egypt but not here,” he said. Not sure about the Egypt part because I have never been there. So I waited until the tea is not too hot to drink. It was so refreshing! I thought I’ve had mint tea before but nothing compares to this mint tea. After that, our journey exploring Marrakech begins.
Marrakech is full of wonderful places to visit. Here are my top 5 places to visit in Marrakech.

1. Jemaa el-Fna

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, Jemaa el-Fna is one of the best known squares in Africa and is the center of city activity and trade. Jemma el-Fna might not look like much in day time. But once the sun is about to set, the market square starts to show its true color. Many vendors start to flock in as well as tourists and locals. Enjoy fresh orange juice or sit on the terrace of a cafe around the courtyard while enjoying this vibrant square. And as the night grows older, Jemma el-Fna keeps thriving until the wee hours.

2. Jardin Majorelle

Entering The Majorelle Garden is like walking into a movie set. It was at one time the home of the landscape painter Jacques Majorelle. Designer Yves Saint Laurent then bought and restored the property. The garden, open to the public since 1947, has a large collection of plants from five continents including cacti, palms and bamboo. This location is very instragmable, just make sure not to wear majorelle blue outfit or else you’ll blend in with the background.

3. Koutoubia Mosque

This is the largest mosque in the city, located alongside Jemaa el-Fna square. This mosque has inspired other buildings such as the Giralda of  Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat. The mosque is made of red stone and brick. The minaret was designed to prevent a person at the top of the tower from viewing activity within the king’s harems. Unfortunately it was closed for a procession when I came to visit so I couldn’t see the inside.

4. Saadian Tombs

The Saadian Tombs were built in the 16th century as a mausoleum to bury numerous Saadian rulers and entertainers. If most tombs are grim, Saadian tombs is totally different. It can even be consider as a garden. Richly embellish with Islamic architecture decorations with floral motifs and calligraphy.

5. Ben Youssef Madrasa

Although I need to go through the winding streets to reach this place, it’s all worth it when I got here. The school to study the Qur’an was once the largest in North Africa. Built in the 14th century, the school has 100 study rooms, a courtyard in the middle of the school, and a luxuriously decorated prayer room. This is a paradise for medieval architecture lovers.

I hope this helped!
Let me know how your trip goes and remember, ‘it’s not the destination, it’s the journey’. Have an amazing time!

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