Marrakesh, the meeting point between the Saharan and Arabic Africa, invites travellers to experience a millenary culture of jasmine scents and crowded markets. It's not a casualty that it's called "the red city", as all its buildings have that warm tonality described in literature. But if there is something that encourages people to fall for it over and over again, it's the nature of contrast you can feel all across these streets - How is it possible to escape the madness of the markets by visiting a peaceful riad?... If you truly need a break from the cold, Marrakesh will be the perfect solution to beat the January blues in only two days.
Start the day with a tour around the most beautiful palaces across the city. The first stop takes place at the Bahia Palace, "the palace of the beautiful", which was built by Ahmed ben Moussa, a powerful man who dedicated the place to his favourite lover. The palace took ten years to complete because of the architectonic complexity- it has 160 rooms to host his four wives and sons...
Image: Badi Palace by Didier Baertschiger
The Badii Palace was built in the XVI by the sultan, Saadí Ahmed El-Mansour. Even though the palace was inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, don't expect to find the same majestic feel, as only its ruins remain today. Last but not least, the palace also hosts the Marrakesh Museum for Photography and Visual Arts.
Keep exploring the Medina streets and you will probably come across the Eden Cinema- you will be sure to recognise it, as it has film posters all over its walls. Don't hesitate to visit it, as it's supposed to be the oldest in town and the entrance is free!
BEN YOUSSEF MADRASAH
This is without any doubt one of the most beautiful places in Marrakesh and it's the school where thousands of people used to memorise the Koran. Inside the building, travellers will be fascinated with the architecture- old inscriptions can be found all over its columns and the walls of tiles. The ticket for Ben Youssef Madrasah also includes entrance to the Museum of Marrakesh and the Koubba Ba'adiyn.
For those still looking for more undiscovered culture, don't miss the chance to visit le Musée de L´Arte de Vivre, a personal project that explores life in this part of the world. The museum is based in a riad, which makes the atmosphere incredibly familiar.
GUELIZ- MODERN MARRAKESH
Finish the day with a visit to the most modern part of the city, the Gueliz area, also called the European area. Here you can find amazing cafes such as Le Grand Café de la Poste (Boulevard el Mansour, Eddahbi).
THE MARRAKESH BAZAAR
Image: Babouches at the Marrakesh bazaar by Xavi
Now it is time for some shopping. The Marrakesh bazaar is huge and offers a great variety of stands (make sure you practise your bargaining skills, as this is the place to show your talent!). Top tip: Before going shopping visit the Ensemble Artisanal at Avenue Mohammed V and find out about the official price for national products. Once you have the information you need, visit the bazaar and don't hesitate to have fun whilst negotiating with the street sellers.
Image: Majorelle Gardens by Stephen Colebourne
They were designed by French painter, Jacques Majorelle who spent 40 years designing this incredibly charming botanic garden in the North of the Medina. Walk along the garden whilst feeling the Moorish charm as well as the Art Deco atmosphere. Of course, don't forget to stop at Ives Saint Laurent's house. The place is simply ideal...
Have you ever heard about a warm hammam? Hammam is a steam room, similar to a Turkish bath that is part of the Moroccan culture- Men, women and children attend this ritual for two or three hours at least once a week. The idea is to clean ourselves so if you don't suffer low blood pressure, don't miss the chance to experience this relaxing experience. There are hammams all across the city. A good one is: Les Bains de Marrakesh (next to la Madrasah)
JEMMA EL FNA
It´s time for diner and the truth is that this city knows about rich and welcoming flavours. Right after the hammam, there is a last stop: Jemma El Fna square. Based in the heart of Marrakesh, this square at night is a must for any traveller. Here you will find one of the best places in town to try local food. Also in la Medina, and for those looking for something a bit posher, don't hesitate to try Le Fondouk or Le Jardin.
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