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Marrakech

Country
Morocco
State
Provincia de Marraquech
City
Marrakech
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Marrakech also known as the Red City is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history. The city of Marrakesh is the capital of the mid-southwestern economic region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz,near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains,being also the 2nd largest city in Morocco.Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco and also has one of the busiest squares in Africa and the world, Djemaa el Fna.The square bustles with acrobats,story-tellers, water sellers,dancers and musicians.By night food stalls open in the square turning it into a huge busy open-air restaurant.

Like many North African cities, the city of Marrakech comprises both an old fortified city (the medina) and an adjacent modern city (called Gueliz) for a total population of 1,070,000.It is served by Menara International Airport (IATE code: RAK) and a rail link to Casablanca and the north.

Until a few decades ago,Morocco was widely known as "Kingdom of Marrakech" to Arabs.Persians and Europeans.The European names of Morocco (Marruecos,Marrocos,Maroc,Marokko etc.) are directly derived from the Berber word Murakush,and in many South Asian languages the country is in fact still known as "Marrakesh".Conversely, the city itself was in earlier times simply called Marocco city by travellers from abroad.The name of the city and the country diverged after the Treaty of Fez placed Morocco under French influence,but the old interchangeable usage lasted widely until about the interregnum of Mohammed Ben Aarafa.The latter episode set in motion the country's return to independence,when Morocco officially became al-Mamlaka al-Magribiyya ("The Western Kingdom"), its name not referring to the city of Marrakesh any more.

Marrakech was dominated in the first half of the 20th century by T'hami El Glaoui, "Lord of the Atlas", and Pasha of Marrakech. The poet of the city was Mohammed Ben Brahim and his favorite place was cafe Al-Masraf. The poems and songs of Ben Brahim are still known by heart by many Marrakshi.



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How to Reach

By Air

Menara International Airport serves as the main airport for the city and receives flights from Europe and neighboring Arab countries.Plenty of low cost companies now fly to Marrakech. Some companies fly to Casablanca, where a plane change for the 45 min flight to Marrakech can be made.If you are flying from the US, Canada, Asia or elsewhere, you'll have to change planes in Casablanca.

By Train

The train station is in the recently developed Gueliz district at Avenue Hassan II.Trains from Casablanca (2nd class Dh84/ 1st class Dh150, 3 hours),Rabat and Tangier connect with most domestic rail destinations in the country,with Marrakech as the southernmost stop.Trains run regularly between Marrakech and Casablanca (including the International Airport).They arrive around every two hours and regularly from other destinations like Rabat.Every day there are 8 direct 7 hour trains to Fez via Casablanca Voyageurs station and another two direct connections to Tangier.

By Bus

There are many long distance bus companies operating within Morocco which serve Marrakech and other cities.The recommended bus companies for tourists are CTM, Pullman du sud and Supratours.Other companies do exist, though these three companies are usually your safest options.Most ALSA (local destination bus company) and private bus lines arrive at the long distance bus station near Bab Doukkala, a 20 min walk (Dh 15 - 20 by petit taxi) from Djemaa El-Fna. Supratours and Eurolines buses operate from here. It's the place to take the buses from the small companies, that go directly to small destinations.

Key places to visit
Draa River, Jemaa el-Fnaa, Koutoubia Mosque, Tanneries, The Souks, Majorelle Gardens, Ben Youssef Madrassa, El Bahia Palace


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Places to Visit

Draa River

Is Morocco's longest river (1100 km).It is formed by the confluence of the Dades River and Imini River.It flows from the High Atlas mountains south-(east)ward to Tagounit and from Tagounit mostly westwards to the Atlantic Ocean somewhat north of Tan-Tan.Most of the year the part of the Draa after Tagounit falls dry.In the first half of the twentieth century the Draa lowest course marked the boundary between the French protectorate of Morocco and the South Zone of the Spanish one.Presently part of its upper course marks a part of the international boundary between Algeria and Morocco.

Jemaa el-Fnaa

Is a square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (old city).The origin of its name is unclear Jemaa means congregational mosque in Arabic,probably referring to a destroyed Almoravid mosque.Fana or fina can mean death or a courtyard,space in front of a building.Thus one meaning could be the mosque or assembly of death or The Mosque at the End of the World.A more likely explanation is that it refers to a mosque with a distinctive courtyard or square in front of it.

Koutoubia Mosque

Is named after the booksellers market that used to be located here.It is said that the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque is to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.The minaret is visible from Gueliz which is connected to the Medina by Avenue Mohammed V. At night,the mosque is beautifully lit.

Tanneries

Visiting the Tanneries can be an interesting experience.Even if some people tell you the area is only for locals,it is possible to visit the Tanneries without paying a youngster.After finding a Tannery,ask one of the workers if you can visit it and take pictures.

The Souks

From spices to shoes,jellabas to kaftans,tea pots to tagines and much,much more.Undoubtedly, being a foreigner means you will end up paying higher prices than a native would,but be sure to bargain nonetheless.If you happen to run out of dirhams,you'll also find plenty of people in the souks who will eagerly exchange your dollars or euros (though a fair rate here is less likely than at an official exchange).All that said, the sellers here are much less aggressive than say, Egypt or Turkey, so have fun.

Right Time to Visit

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