Marrakech Morocco is a fantastically mesmerizing place where visitors can expect a truly authentic vacation experience. Marrakech, or Marrakesh as it also commonly spelled, is a place where the senses come alive. A tantalizing array of colors, smells, and sounds always keep things interesting here, and the old village, or medina, is as satisfying a place to explore as perhaps anywhere else on earth. Marrakech is for good reason the most popular tourist destination in Morocco, and if you only have time to spend a few days in the country, it should arguably be here. That could be debated, of course, but suffice it to say that Marrakech holidays offer some of the best that Morocco tourism has to offer.


Nicknamed the "Red City," Marrakech Morocco is located in the southwestern part of the country, set against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains foothills. The fourth-largest Moroccan city, Marrakech boasts a population of more than 1 million people, which lends itself to the often frenetic pace here. The city was founded in 1062 AD by the Berber Almoravid ruler, Yusuf ibn Tashfin. The Almoravid dynasty extended its rule over much of northwestern Africa in the 11th century, also controlling the Iberian peninsula, which is now present-day Spain and Portugal. After about 80 years of rule, the Almoravids would be overtaken by the Berber, Muslim Almohad Dynasty. The Almohads would lay waste to much of what the Almoravids had constructed, deeming it impure.

What would follow would be one of Marrakech's greatest periods. The city was made the capital of the entire Almohad dynasty, and it was quite the culturally-rich haven. Creativity was certainly encouraged, and top Arabic poets, philosophers, and scholars congregated here. One of the top Marrakech landmark attractions, the late twelfth-century Koutoubia Mosque is credited to the Almohad dynasty. It's famed minaret has influenced a number of subsequent architectural endeavors, including Seville, Spain's La Giralda minaret, and New York City's Manhattan Municipal Building. The Koutoubia Mosque is generally hailed as the prime example of Moroccan-Andalusian architecture. After the fall of the Almohad dynasty, Marrakech would see a period of neglect, until the Saadian dynasty brought it back up to speed, so to speak, in the 16th century. Re-emerging as a cultural and commercial center, Marrakech would again suffer a period of demise until the French moved in.

French colonial occupation of Morocco lasted from 1912-1956, and Marrakech was largely ruled through local rulers. The French constructed the Ville Nouvelle, or new city, in the 1930"s, and Marrakech began its path towards becoming Morocco's second-largest trading center after Casablanca. The medina, or old part of town, still remains the main tourist draw, it's Jemaa el Fna square among the most interesting and lively squares on the planet. No visit to Marrakech Morocco would be complete without experiencing the main square of Jemaa el Fna, which is the largest square on the African continent. Both tourists and locals like to meet here, where during the day orange juice stalls and well-costumed water sellers mix with snake charmers and things the like. As the day wears on and afternoon melds into evening, the Jemaa el Fna square only gets busier, as dancers, magicians, and legendary storytellers appease the masses. Come nightfall, the square is the place to grab a bite, whether you dine on a terrace restaurant looking down from above, or visit one or more of the many food stalls that set up here.

Shopping is certainly one of the top pursuits for those enjoying Marrakech holidays, and the main square is edged on one side by a souk, or traditional North African marketplace, where a myriad of interesting shops can be found selling everything from antiques to perfumes. In the medina, the shopping is tends to be a tad hectic, and some might consider hiring an official guide when shopping here, at least on initial excursions. There are tourist hagglers in Marrakech Morocco that will try to lead you in one direction or another, and some shop owners can be known to exert significant pressure on shoppers, so it's important to keep a sense of humor about things while at the same time being somewhat strong-willed yourself. Upscale Marrakech shopping can be enjoyed outside of the medina walls if that's what you're after, and Mohammed V Avenue and Zerktouni Boulevard are among the best places to find chic fashion boutiques.

Taking in everyday life in the medina is surely something that those on Marrakech holidays will want to do. Simply enjoying a hot mint tea in a café within the medina walls is a pleasure all its own. Before or after visits to the medina, those enjoying Marrakech Morocco vacations might entertain the idea of hopping on a sightseeing bus to get a better feeling of the city's overall layout and makeup. Tourists can also take trips outside of Marrakech to enjoy such fantastic destinations as the Ourika Valley, where in the winter snow skiing can be enjoyed! Imagine skiing in Africa. All of the top Marrakech hotels can help guests arrange a number of fun side pursuits, and they can even set you up with English-speaking guides for Marrakech city tours if you please. The Marrakech hotels have a growing number of luxury choices among them, but backpackers will also find the selection to be favorable to them. Perhaps a stay at a Marrakech resort will be most ideal. All in all, when considering the Marrakech hotels, it's important to remember that since the pace of life can be quite frenetic here, you might decide to spend a bit extra for a certain level of peace and quiet. That way, you'll be well-rested and ready to tackle another invigorating and intriguing Marrakech day. This place is truly special, that's for sure.

Top image: nguy1 (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0

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