exploring marrakech - episode 1
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Marrakech is one of the most wonderful cities where I have been and what makes it really wonderful is not the palaces, food or landscapes, but everything! It simply makes me feel alive (if you want to know why, read here). This city makes you question who you are, what you want, where you belong, your identity, ethics and purpose in life! Before traveling to Morocco, I read many articles about things to do and places not to miss, but once I got there, I knew it would be greater than anything I've ever read!
As soon as I set my feet on the soil of Morocco, the warmth, the people and the culture nourished my being!
I spent a week in Marrakech, during the first four days I explored the old city, the souks, the mosques and every natural thing this place has to offer, while in the last three days I explored the new part of the city. Marrakech may be a small town but it has a lot to explore and to get lost (literally!), so I will try to resume the best of it in two episodes! Enjoy the first one..
Me and my boyfriend traveled to Marrakech in July - yes! a hottest month, our first time in Africa, no guide and no city maps! we like to take chances! We had a plan with the places to go (and when we got lost we used google maps), just so we didn't miss anything, as we like the unexpected, carpe diem!
Medina - the old town
The medina in Marrakech is unbelievable. Terracotta houses and shops line a claustrophobic labyrinth of streets filled with tourists, cats, vendors, scooters, donkeys and just about anything you can think of. Within seconds of entering, expect your senses to be overwhelmed. My boyfriend and I got lost one day in the souks, it was confession day and the most stressful experience I've ever had. If this happens to you, I recommend that you call the Riad where you're staying to pick you up and, please, don't try to figure out the way - you will only end up exhausted and more and more lost.
Jemma El Fna
The main square of Medina and a market place, with lots of shops, restaurants, vendors, henna tattoos, live shows with monkeys, snakes and everything a vegan doesn't like to see! During the day, it is occupied by orange juice stalls, water sellers and leather things. As the day progresses, everything changes and the square becomes a place to food stalls, dancing boys, story-tellers (in Berber or Arabic, to an audience of locals), peddlers of traditional medicines and magicians - the square just never sleeps!
Le Jardin Secret
Situated between the streets of the souks, this garden is the tranquility in the middle of the chaos. This place has vibrant colors, small fountains with benches around to meditate to the sound of water and a cafe with terrace for a fresh drink.
A 19th century palace with amazing architecture and colours. It also has a garden, where you can take some time to rest. This may be something personal but I love walking barefoot, feeling the floor under my feet and this is one of the best places to do it - the cold tiles are like a natural massage!
The largest mosque in Marrakech - made of red stone and ornamented with curved windows pointed and decorative arches. You can only see the outside, but the area is made of a large plaza with gardens nice to walk through.
The largest madrasa in Morocco - it was an Islamic college founded during the 14th century. When you walk inside the feeling you get is unbelievable - you can really imagine the classrooms, the children and all the culture present there. I loved to photograph in this place and admire the architecture, so different from everything I have ever seen!
The most difficult thing for me when exploring the old town of Marrakech was controlling my senses - walk the streets and see the lambs being cut into pieces, the chickens carried by the neck, the smell of the leather, the children working hard.. But you just have to keep in mind that it's a different culture, and it has so many beautiful things to offer - the sound of the prayers that come from the mosques, the sympathy and warmth of the people, the corners with vibrant colors, the excitement of the souks and whatever you allow yourself to explore!
What about you? Would you like to explore Marrakech?