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Jemaa el-Fna

Watch spellbinding dance routines, interact with snake charmers and browse the market stalls in this fascinating cultural hub on a central square.

With a lively ambiance and a dynamic market, Jemaa el-Fna is one of the main squares of Marrakech. The plaza dates back to the 11th century and is known for its spectacular range of activities and events. Get a sense of the local culture with some time in this enigmatic and entertaining square.

Listen to the plaza’s storytellers to learn more about the history here. They’ll generally be speaking Arabic dialects, but some may use French or occasionally English. Watch some of the male dancers showing off their routines. Note that it is not considered appropriate for female dancers to perform here. See serpents’ heads rise seductively from baskets at the command of snake charmers and their flutes.

Embark on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the area or sit at a wooden chair in a circle around a musician. Bargain with vendors at the market stalls for different types of food. Certain stalls are for tattoos, while others specialize in snails, juices and other intriguing items. Stay until after sunset, when the activities and music become more active. Dine at one of the cafés and restaurants serving food and drink in the plaza.

Note that the meaning of the name of the square in Arabic is unclear, although it might signify the Mosque at the End of the World or simply the Gathering Area. Some believe it means the Assembly of the Dead, in reference to the public executions held here in the 11th century. Over the centuries, the square has had periods of regression and popularity.

Enter the square for free. It is open at all times. Arrive on any day from morning until midnight for the market and entertainment. Bargain for any purchases and protect belongings from pickpockets. Be prepared to pay tips if you watch performers or take photos.

Jemaa el-Fna is in the historic center of Marrakech. Take a bus to the Arset El Bilk terminal and walk northeast for a few minutes to get here. Visit nearby attractions, such as the Ali Ben Youssef Mosque, the Dar Bellarj souk and the Marrakech House of Photography.


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