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Marrakech

The southern city of Marrakesh, with a backdrop of High Atlas peaks in the distance, will draw you into its charms immediately. Explore the old walled city (medina) where the narrow alleyways of the bustling souks, busy mosques and the main square, the Djemmaa el Fna, will be the focus of your attentions.

The Djemmaa is the heart of Marrakesh’s old town and constantly throngs with life. Also visit the city’s other main sights, such as the Koutoubia Mosque, or the Saadian tombs to see the richly decorated mausoleums, with mosaics, magnificent domed ceilings, stalactite plaster work, intricate carvings and marble pillars. But there is always more to see in Marrakesh if you have time. Here are some of the site you might choose to include on your stay here.

Dar si Said Museum: This is one of the best museums in Morocco for arts and crafts. From clothes, furniture and everyday objects to intricately woven carpets and stunning jewellery, this collection will give you a fantastic introduction to the workmanship of the Arabic and Berber cultures of Morocco.

Djemmaa el Fna (Place of the Dead): This huge square is the heart of Marrakesh's medina life. During the day, it is a market and gathering place with date and orange juice stalls, wandering water sellers, and a few entertainers. However once the sun begins to set food sellers begin wheeling out their stalls and the preparation of the night’s food gets underway. Also at night performers of every kind, including snake charmers, singers, musicians, story tellers and acrobats, fill the square. They are joined by the healers with pots of herbs and potions who minister to the local visitors. The crowds are mainly Moroccans, as this is not a spectacle just for tourists. It offers a glimpse of medina life little changed since medieval times. The square is surrounded by cafés and restaurants, where you can escape from the hustle and bustle, relax with a mint tea and watch life in the square unfold.

El Badi Palace: Once known as the “Incomparable” this famous palace is sadly now just a ruin. However it is pleasant to wander through its derelict courtyards and see the massive walls and sunken pools, and imagine a time when the gardens would have been filled with jasmin, orange blossom and cypress trees. El Bahia Palace: The palace is a series of paved courtyards, a harem quarter and Andalucian gardens. It was built in the 1890s by the grand vizier, but is now just a great empty building, nonetheless worthy of a visit to see the architecture and gardens. A small section of the palace has been refurbished for the royal family’s visits to Marrakesh.

Koutoubia Mosque: The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque dominates the skyline of Marrakesh. It is the town’s tallest building, and dates from the 12th century.

Majorelle Gardens: This botanical garden was created in the 1920s by French artists Jacques and Louis Majorelle. Within the walls are gardens complete with pools, cacti, bamboo, coconut and banana trees. The plants are beautifully offset by the paths, pavilions and garden walls which are all painted in a vivid blue. This colour is associated with the fashion designer Yves St Laurent, who now owns these gardens. Menara Gardens: With its backdrop of the Atlas Mountains, the Menara Gardens are one of the most photographed places in Morocco. The garden was laid out in the twelfth century by the Almohads, as an olive grove set around a large lake. The pavilion was built much later in 1870. Don’t miss the wonderful view from the first-floor balcony. Mosque Ben Youssef: Situated in the Marrakesh medina, this mosque is open to non-Muslims. It was built in the 12th century as the city’s main mosque, but the current building dates mostly from the 19th century. There are two fascinating monuments linked to this mosque: the medersa and the Koubba el Baroudiyn.

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facts and information

Time: GMT

Flight time:

Marrakech is the main international gateway. British Airways, Easy Jet, Ryan Air and Thomson have frequent direct flights from London to Marrakech. There are also direct flights to Casablanca and Fez, and a more extensive service with Royal Air Maroc to other airports within Morocco.

Language: Moroccan Arabic is the official language. It is significantly different from classical and modern Arabic.

Visas:

Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from the embassy

Health:

There are no compulsory vaccinations.

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