Marrakech Area General Information
Marrakech, The Red City
Capital of Southern Morocco
Population approximately 1,075,000
Marrakech (sometimes spelt Marrakesh or Marakush) is a Berber city, in the Arabic style. It is the capital of the mid-southwestern economic region of Marrakech Tensift Al Haouz. and is close to the majestic Atlas Mountains.
It consists of the ancient Madina, the original walled city, and the more modern adjacent city known as Gueliz.
Most people, by European standards, are poor, but living standards are rising quickly. The Berbers are pleasant people who are natural traders. The population is a mix of Arab, French, some Belgians, Berbers and some Tuareg.
Everyone speaks French, most Arabic, some Berber (this is a separate language not a dialect). A few speak some English, particularly taxi drivers and hotel staff.
Some important dates in the history of Marrakech:
1062 Capital of the Almoravids who also controlled Andalucia and most of Spain. It gets its name from Marra Kouch. This means the land of the Kouch-men. These were warriors from the area now known as Mauritania.
1147 Marrakech captured by the Almohads, who begin the building of the Koutabia mosque and the Menara Gardens. This same tribe also controlled Cordoba and Granada in Spain.
1274 The caravan routes moved and Marrekesh goes into decline.
1522 Saadians take control and by the end of the century Marrakech is the capital of southern Morocco and is returning to its former glory.
1912 The arrival of the French protectorate. The Glaoua family are placed in control.
1956 Moroccan independence. The capital is moved to Rabat and Marrakech becomes the provincial capital.
The population is cosmopolitan; you will see all types from ultra conservative to hip. Just be sensible and sensitive to local customs.
When shopping always be polite, as people are only trying to make a living. They will go away if told to do so firmly. Always barter, the first asking price is just the start of negotiations, particularly on expensive items such as carpets. You should start at about half the asking price.
For those old enough to remember Monty Python's film, "The Life of Brian", if you don't barter they will think you are rich and crazy. That tends to spoil things for the rest of us, who are poor and crazy.
Even if you are an expert at haggling you will never beat them as they have inherited thousands of years` experience.
- Berber pottery
- Furniture Leather
1 € = appromimately 11.30 DM
500,000 DM = approximately 44,300 Euro
The above example is based on the typical exchange rate as of March 2011
Click here for more accurate exchange rates.
Tipping - around 5 % is normal or just small coins.
If travelling very far get the price before you start. If asked for, say, 500 DH, offer 300 and see what happens. Always keep a considerable quantity of small coins, if you only have large notes then it is much more likely that you will be overcharged.
is available for three months of the year from Dec to March in the high Atlas Mountains 70 kilometres to the south
Paragliding with Passion Paragliding
The safari-style nature of our trips means we have the freedom to explore Morocco’s paragliding potential to the maximum
check out www.passionparagliding.com
King Mohammed VI, is rapidly modernising the country. Laws are being changed to encourage foreign investment and the liberalisation of Islamic laws. For instance, Moroccan men can now only have another wife if number one agrees. Whilst the laws regarding the transfer of assets on divorce are being changed to bring them more into line with European conventions.
Money is being spent on the country's infrastructure such as new mororways linking Meknes, Fez, Rabat and Tangier
A Spanish company has been contracted to improve baggage handling etc. at all airports. Telephones, mobiles and internet cafes all work efficiently. The crime rate is low.
Tangier has a new very modern railway station and the beach area has a new promenade.
Marrakech is generally clean; toilets etc are modern, and the sewage system works. A new hospital is being built and there are a number of English-speaking doctors. Standards in the new areas are similar to those of the Costa del Sol, while standards in the older areas reflect rural Spain 25 years ago.
Herbalist, Herbolisterie Avenzoar Good place for herbs and oils. The shop keeper speaks very good English - haggle!!
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a great number of hotels, 5 star, luxury and standard, and still more being built.
La Mamounia is one of the most famous hotels in the world and was Winston Churchill's favourite.
Check out on Trip Advisor or contact them direct.
Tel. 00212 524 444 940
There is a large amount of foreign investment in tourism.
Prices are generally higher in Marrakech than in other towns, partially because of more tourism but also because of more investment by local people.
The Ibis hotel is next to the railway station. It is new, has nice gardens and a large swimming pool. It is a good arrival/ departure hotel if you are travelling by train. Rates from 378 DM per night. per room.
The Assia Hotel has rooms starting at 300 DM per night and the Le Gallia are small hotels in the Medina close to Plaza Jemma. They are both of a high standard and are Riad hotels. A Riad is an old house in the medina that was originally owned by a rich Arab family. Many have now been converted into small hotels and restuarants
Estates and Golf Courses
Many new housing estates are being built. La Palmeraie is an area on the outskirts of Marrakech that has many thousands of palm trees. Here, there is the expensive housing, owned by some of the world's richest people.
There are two other golf courses in Marrakech
La Palmeraie Golf Palace has suites etc and a magnificent golf course.
Places of interest.
Jemma El Fnaa:
The main square of the Medina.
During the day it is full of food, and many other market stalls. At night it transforms itself into a large outdoor entertainment centre, with very cheap food stalls, snake charmers, story tellers, magicians, musicians, fire eaters. The streets close by teem with life and very many small shops.
It is a Unesco Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, click here for more information.
Around the edge of the square is the Marracech Souk, the traditional markets of North Africa
Each souk is a market for a specific products and they are open every day and long into the night in many cases.
- Tapis (Carpets) - souk Zarbia
- Teinturiers (Dyers) - souk Sebbaghine
- Fer (Iron work) - souk Hadadine
- Epices (Spices) - souk Kassabine
- Tannuers (Tanners) - souk Cherratine
- Cuir (Leather) - souk el Kebir
- Textiles (Cloth) - souk Smarine
- Laine (Wool) - souk Laghzal
The kasba is an area of small shops that vary from the simple to the sophisticated
These were set out in the 1920s by the French painter Jacques Majorelle.
They later fell into decline but were bought by Yves Saint Laurent and have been returned to a state of magnificence.
The Koutoubia Mosque:
The is the largest mosque in Marrakech and was built in the X11 century between 1184 and 1199. Its 69m tower can be seen throughout Marrakech.
At the time that it was built, the mosque was an engineering masterpiece and visitors are amazed by its sheer size
It used to be a place of book and manuscript sellers and dealers, hence the name which is derived from the Arabic word Al Koutoubiyyin, which literally means Librarian
An extremely good marker point, it is known as the elder brother of the Giralda Tower in Seville and is an outstanding example of Spanish-Moorish art.
90 minutes by taxi south of Marrakech where there are two main valleys. The Asni valley which has good walking bases and trekking companies operate. The Ourika valley the roads a perfectly passable in ordinary cars, where the roads are interesting, not for the nervous driver.
The road is similar to those in the mountains of southern Spain some 25 years ago., i.e. potholed, rutted but passable. The villages are poor, some are very basic but others have good restuarants etc.
The mountain road leads to a river valley. Some of the villages can only be reached by horse or donkey, with the snow covered mountain peak at 4000m.
There is a skiing centre 1.5 hours south of Marrakech on a clearly marked road.
Transport to and from Marrakech:
Direct flights to and from Morocco are simple to arrange, click here for the 'Flights to Morocco' website that can help. Please be aware that this website is outside of our control and therefore we cannot be responsible for issues that arrise by people using it.
It is 7 hours drive from Cueta or Tangier. Ceuta is better for driving at moment until the new motorway is finished. .
35 minutes crossing from Algeciras to Ceuta.
One hour crossing to Tangier on the fast ferry "NAUTAS" or 2 hours on the normal ferry.
There is also a hydrofoil service from Tarifa (FRFS).
Buses are cheap but time consuming.
Buses to Essaouria every half hour.
Travelling by rail is easy, click here for the ONCF website and booking information.
It is best to buy the tickets at the railway station. Various touts will try to persuade you to buy at the travel shops near the port. This is a waste of time and energy. The railway station is new, clean, the food is good and the booking staff speak English. The other down side of the travel shops is that they cannot sell you the couchette tickets. They suggest that you buy these on the train. This is not the case.
Morocco-geography and climate.
Morocco is dominated by the Mediterranean climate made temperate by the influence of the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern and Southern parts of the country. In the centre, the climate is continental with significant temperature differences. The Atlas region is moist with frequent snow.
In the north, bordering the Mediterranean are the Rif Mountains, south of these mountains the landscape is flat for 300 miles as far as Marrakech. From here, one hour's drive south are the High Atlas Mountains, and then, after crossing these the Sahara desert begins.
In the south away from the coast, a desert climate prevails.
Standards in old areas of the countryside are similar to those in Spain 50 years ago. The farmers still cut wheat etc by hand. There are very few tractors, many donkeys and many people working the land.
Then the landscape is flat for 300 miles as far as Marrakech. From here, one hour's drive south are the High Atlas Mountains, and then, after crossing these Sahara desert begins. The transport system in the north and as far south as Marrakech is good, but in the south, it is very basic. If you want to travel into the desert you should get professional guides . There are several companies based in Marrakech, and we can recommend www.desertline.net who have more than 15 years experience in organising both long and short desert trips.
Below is a map of Marrakech City Centre. Click for the full Google map