At first, most of my dream destinations and places used to originate from classic adventure books. With the help of Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain they took me from dry prairies and erupting volcanos to the deepest depths of the ocean.
After that, I discovered colourful images in glossy travel magazine pages, but nowadays I find a lot of inspiration in surf magazines and on social media.
I still remember seeing a picture of Medersa Ben Youssef, the largest Qur’anic teaching college in Marrakech for the very first time on Instagram.
My mind literally exploded, and I was instantly filled with a stubborn yearning to see it. Over time, I found myself glued to the computer screen, unable to stop slobbering while I inspected every single impeccable detail of this somewhat unique place.
Imagine my shock when upon our arrival, we discovered Medersa Ben Youssef closed for renovation.
To be totally honest, it took us a good while until we felt ready for the trip to Morroco with a baby in tow and if anything was to go wrong, my personal reward was seeing this incredibly beautiful place. But after years of travelling, we are used to hiccups that happen when on the road, and we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks to manage travel setbacks.
Even thou we usually bounce back in no time, sometimes it’s not that easy at all. Sometimes it breaks your heart, leaves you distressed and makes you cry, especially when you been daydreaming about a specific subject for such a long time.
Few days and good few “I still can’t believe this” moments later we got lost wandering around the Medina, and that’s how we met two English girls who asked for directions to the Medersa Ben Youssef. I saw their eyes slightly widen in disbelief as we gently broke the news about the renovations.
After parting with the girls, we set out to see more of Marrakech and found that the city is divided into two different sections, the old town or Medina and the modern one of which Gueliz is the centre of it.
The new town couldn’t be in more significant contrast to the old medina with residential houses, hotels, fast food restaurants, supermarkets and international cafes. The main street, Avenue Mohammed V, is beautifully lined with palm trees and travelling from a bus station to our riad we spotted KFC, Pizza Hut and even Zara shop.
When it comes to experiencing travel to the fullest for us, it means experiencing local life. Thatš why we left the shiny bright new town and dived into lesser-known districts looking for interactions with native people. We wanted to learn about their traditions and culture.
To make sure we interacted with locals and learned as much as possible about the history of Marrakech, we arranged a guide to steer us through the maze of Old Medina. Having lived in Marrakech for over a 20 years, he was more than happy to provide insights to what life is actually like in one of the biggest cities and he answered every single question we fired at him.
The best Attractions you have to experience in Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakesh is one of the largest cities in Morroco and home to 1 million people. There is an incredible amount of sights, places and attractions to see. We are appreciative to have been able to spend time in Marrakech and would love to come back one day for more because as much as we wanted to visit every single place, we just run out of time.
In this blog post, we wanted to highlight a few spots worth visiting. If you are tempted to see incredibly beautiful architectural wonders and roam around the sunlit souks of Marrakech, go visit!
#1. Visit the beautiful Bahia Palace
Bahia Palace is a very well-known tourist attraction in Marrakech. It’s hard to describe precisely what you feel standing in the middle of the central courtyard with white Carrara marble floor underneath your feet and surrounded by the intense colours and one of a kind architecture.
Don’t be surprised to find out that the name of the palace translates to ‘brilliance’. This nineteen-century place is one of the true masterpieces of Moroccan architecture and also one of the busiest places we visited in Marrakech.
Here you’ll find displays of impressive mosaics, colourful patterns, cedar-wood carvings, stained glass windows, painted cedar ceilings and marble features. In the pretty gardens, you’ll see a great variety of trees-jasmine, olive, banana, lemon as well as date palms and loads of orange trees.
In addition to 150 rooms, there are stables, a Koranic school and even a mosque.
#2. Walk around Jemaa el-Fnaa Square
If there is one place that defines this incredible city, its definitely Jemaa el-Fnaa Square, a big open space with an electric atmosphere. Overlooked by the distinctive Koutoubia mosque tower, this is where you can find citrus fruit stalls, snake charmers, donkeys charts and a healthy mix of foreign visitors and locals. Horse-drawn carriages called Calèches can be seen near the square and can be used to go for a ride.
Early in the morning and during the daytime hours Jemaa el-Fnaa Square is much quieter than once the night rolls in. After exploring the Old Medina, put your feet up in one of the rooftop cafes, get ready for one of the best shows and watch this place transform in front of your eyes.
Absorb how the guys pull charts through the square to set up the food stalls for the night. Witness how the square becomes even more alive when street performers try to attract attention with rhythmic music and dancing.
While nearby rooftop cafes provide an escape from the chaos and the great viewpoints for Insta good pictures, it’s hard to capture the tones of traditional Berber music and the smell of fried food that fills the warm air.
#4. Pay a visit to the Marrakech Museum
This museum is situated just beside the Medersa Ben Youssef and to understand all the descriptions of exhibits you will need the knowledge of French or Arabic.
Although there wasn’t much on display regarding artwork or any other exhibitions you would expect from a similar type of museum, the interior of the building was worth going to see as the wooden ceiling and tile work was stunning.
Make sure you leave the main hall behind and visit smaller rooms as well, we found lovely paintings, fountains, mosaics and decorative art objects(most of them actually were dusty and poorly arranged, nevertheless we absolutely loved it).
#5. Explore Marrakech Souks
Even in your wildest dreams, it’s hard to imagine that places like these exist. Marrakech souks are world famous for a good reason. The rhythm of life here is so authentic and unique that even best adjectives are nowhere near describing this place. It has to be seen in person.
We spent hours just slowly walking around dimly lit alleys and absorbing eye-catching patterns and colours. We tried to identify strange smells, touched delicate looking glassware and let the silk scarfs run through our fingers.
We could not stop marvel at the eternal passion coming from travelling merchants. The way they fight for your attention is so entertaining and at times, very funny.
#6. Relax at Le Jardin Secret
Our last day in Marrakech involved more sightseeing. Exclaiming with sheer joy, we entered through the simple door into a place that could only be found in the story books. Visiting Le Jardin Secret was something I needed to refresh my soul.
Walking around the gardens, listening to the tinkling water and bird sounds, I realised that some places are so simple yet so surreal! There are two beautifully symmetrical gardens, a small rooftop cafe and a museum.
Once owned by the powerful U-Bihi, this place exchanged many hands before it was abandoned entirely. Today Le Jardin Secret is beautifully restored and open to the public. It was our tour guide who suggested we visit these blissfully quiet gardens. I am glad we did! We enjoyed the entire experience while learning about the complexity of the flowing water, trying to identify fragrant herbs and many trees.
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Now over you!
Have you been to Marrakech? What sites did you see?
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Marrakech and have travel related questions!