Wednesday, 1 May 2013

City guide Marrakech: What to see

I recently went to Marrakech on a mini break and to get some much needed sun so I thought I'd write a guide on where to go, what to see and where to eat! First up.....what to see.

I've never been to Morocco before and had heard mixed reviews so wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I went with an open mind and I absolutely loved it! Before going my boyfriend and I did a fair amount of research. We stayed in Gueliz, the new town, which is just outside of the old town (the medina) I would recommend this as it meant that we had some rest from the hustle and bustle. There are some fantastic restaurants, art galleries and shop and it has a distinctly cosmopolitan feel. As soon as you search any guide to Morocco, the obvious places to visit come up, they are worth a visit but I want to share with you what I feel are absolute must places to visit!


1. Maison de la Photographie


Situated a two minute walk from Ali Ben Youssef this photography gallery is a must see. Even if you're not the worlds biggest fan of photography, the photographs exhibited here are so inspiring, documenting Moroccan culture over the past 100 years. The gallery has been curated fantastically and the building itself is beautiful. All the exhibition rooms face out onto a light and airy courtyard. Work your way up the four floors taking in the history and art of the Moroccan people. When you reach the top you'll find yourself on the gallery's roof terrace cafe and the views are to die for. Looking across in all directions of the city you can spy hundreds of rooftops and the looming snow topped Atlas mountains in the distance. We ordered food but I'll cover that in my "Where to eat" post.... We ordered from the "Menu du jour" (Menu of the day) Which was fantastic value at 80dh (approximately £8) for a 3 course meal! The starter was a delicious and simple aubergine salad, main was a yummy lemon chicken tagine and pudding was fresh yoghurt with almonds and honey...delicious and perfect for lunchtime! We spent quite a while on the terrace soaking in the views.


2. Bahia Palace


Very easy to find, Bahia Palace has an impressive entrance and courtyard leading up to the main entrance (mainly filled with beautiful palm trees and sunbathing cats) The palace takes up a large and when you enter you can really imagine how glorious it must have been!. There were lots of things to discover, the rooms just went on and on and on, each one revealing something new! Some courtyards were filled to the brim with palm trees and plants, others were simply filled with a solitary fountain. Bahia which means "Brilliance" really does live up to it's name. Whilst it was quite busy with tourists, if you take you time and try and avoid the tour parties you can often get a courtyard to yourself for a few minutes. I just loved how each courtyard had a different feeling and decoration. There are some wonderful examples of mosaic work and the ceilings are absolutely spectacular! 




3. Dar si Said (Museum of Moroccan Arts) 


A 5 minute walk away from Bahia Palace. This place just went on and on.... It was not only the quietest tourist place we went (great for photo opportunities) it was one of the most beautiful! Although it's perhaps not as touristy and grand, there was something very honest about the building. We spent a long time here, just soaking the beauty of the building and the fascinating pieces of artwork. The building used to be a palace and it has still retained its decadent atmosphere. Beautiful mosaics are adorned everywhere, gold ceilings, stain glass windows with minute detail. Best thing about the place? The fact that it's quiet means you can take your time and truly take it all in. The atmosphere is so relaxed, there is no need to rush, not too many wordy signs to read, it's a place you can take at your own pace.  


4. Jardin Majorelle





Probably one of the most famous and popular tourist attractions in Marrakech the Jardin Majorelle is located in the new town (a 10 minute walk from our hotel which was great) Guidebooks tell you to go early in the morning or later on to avoid the crowds, we ended up going smack bang in the middle of the day so I was a little worried it would be overcrowded, thankfully I was wrong. Whilst yes it was the busiest place we went, the way the garden has been designed means that you feel like you're the only person there. There are two tickets you can buy, one for the garden or one for the garden and museum. Unless there's a particular exhibition you want to see on at the time the museum is not worth it. The gardens are beautiful, a complete oasis from the city. The blue walls are spectacularly vibrant and there are hundreds of bizarre shaped exotic cactus's. There are lots of water features and dazzling flowers, we spent a few hours here just taking it all in. I really couldn't get over the beauty of the place! The photos really speak for themselves. Definitely worth a visit! 

5. Ben Youseff Medrasa 


This was the first place we visited in Marrakech and it was also the first time we got lost, thankfully Moroccans are very helpful (especially if you pay them) at giving directions. Built in the 16th century this place is a true testament to Moroccan art and education. The building is very impressive yet compact, and is easily done in an hour. The centre courtyard is the main attraction but it can get very busy so you will have to be patient when taking photos! 

Phew...that's a lot of information to take in so thank you for reading, next post will be on where to eat in Marrakech :) I'll also put some more (film) photos up.

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