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Marrakech is one of Morocco‘s most touristic locations, a city that offers many impressive attractions and must-visit places. The red city catches the eyes of millions of people across the world every single year.
The world-famous city is known for its instagramable monuments and locations that you have undoubtedly seen in the Instagram pages of travel lovers or photography enthusiasts.
In Marrakech, visitors get to explore a different world with a unique culture and society.
The touristic city offers the best of both historic and modern worlds with its labyrinthine alleyways, medieval small palaces (riads), 5-star restaurants and hotels that provide a one of a kind luxury experience.
Marrakech is the Moroccan city where you will learn about the country’s history, society, culture, traditions, and etiquette. Morocco’s distinct culture permeates through Marrakech’s museums, ancient monuments, or among the many friendly locals that you will meet throughout your trip.
From its famous cultural square busy with performers and musicians to its enchanting rooftop restaurants with exquisite traditional Moroccan dishes, every corner in Marrakech will offer you an authentic Moroccan experience.
Founded in 1070 by Emir Abu Bakr Ibn Umar in the Almoravid dynasty, Marrakech is the fourth largest city and one of the four imperial cities in Morocco besides Meknes, Fes, and Rabat. Even the name Morocco itself is derived from the name of the city of Marrakech.
The historic city has the largest souk market in Morocco and its historic medina quarter is part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Visiting Marrakech for the first time can be overwhelming. Whether it is your first time, or a repeat visit, it is good to be prepared with as much knowledge of the big city’s sites and attractions to identify and locate where you want to head to next. These are the best must-visit places in Marrakech.
Jemaa el Fna square
Jemaa El Fna square is the soul of Marrakech city, the location that never sleeps. It is always bustling with chaotic yet fun and vibrant energy. The main square is the most important attraction, one that is impossible to miss during your trip.
According to the locals, the square’s name means the assembly of the deaths, which itself gives the attraction a more unique and exotic perspective than other regions in the city.
During the day, the square offers several performers showing off their skills and talents, either by singing, performing acrobatics, playing different musical instruments, telling stories or jokes in circles (Halqa) around the square. There are also the snake charmer, fortune teller, henna artist, and other performers and artists that make Marrakech a must-visit place.
At night, Jemaa El Fna turns into a large open-air restaurant with smoke rising from its 40 grills in small dining stalls filled with locals and tourists. A large number of stalls offer a variety of traditional Moroccan food including vegetable or lamb tagine, fried fish, grilled meat and Morocco’s famous harira soup.
Located within the medina of Marrakech, the souk is a must-visit place where you can explore Morocco’s market and the different original handmade products sold in local shops.
In the souk, you can purchase the perfect souvenir or home decor to take home with you and give your own place a Moroccan touch. You can find thick hand-made Amazigh (Berber) carpets with different designs and colors as well as traditional clothing made with various fabrics including locally-produced leather.
You will also find crafted ceramic work, magical lanterns and lamps, colorful straw bags and baskets, woodwork, Moorish mirrors, as well as a variation of exotic spices, and natural beauty products.
Located in the heart of the mdina, the Koutoubia mosque is the largest mosque in the city. It was built over eight centuries ago during the Almohad dynasty. The mosque was laid with red bricks to make a 75 meters high tower that is visible from nearly 30 kilometers away, making it the highest point inMarrakech.
The tower illustrates gorgeous Moorish designs and ornaments with keystone arches and symmetric proportions and decorated with gleaming brass. The mosque takes its name from the numerous booksellers that used to surround the Mosque when it was first built.
Like most mosques in Morocco, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Koutoubia mosque. However, the attraction still remains a must-visit place in Marrakech for visitors to observe from the outside, you can also rest in the gardens next to the mosque.
El Badi palace
Built in the 16th century by Saadian Sultan Ahmed El- Mansour, the ruins of the El Badi palace are said to have been one of the grandest and most beautiful palaces in Morocco with 300 rooms and gold-decorated walls.
The must-visit vast ruins of the ancient palace are one of Marrakech’s most touristic places for its rich historic background and special view. The palace is designed in Moorish style in red stones and brick and beautiful tiles.
The palace was destroyed by sultan Moulay Ismail who carried the gold to Meknes, the next capital of Morocco, leaving just remains of the once magnificent palace, green gardens and vast pools. In the few tower ramparts, you get to see beautiful panoramic views of the medina.
Jardin Majorelle is one of the must-visit places in Marrakech. It was designed by the French painter Jacque Majorelle in 1924 and owned by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Piere Bergé after the painter’s death in 1962.
The botanical garden has a variety of green plants and trees that decorate the garden and surround a beautiful blue and yellow art villa designed by Jacques Majorelle adding to the garden’s unique appeal. The garden includes a large collection of 300 plant species including cacti, palms, and ferns.
In Majorelle’s blue art villa you will find a beautiful showcase of some 600 artifacts that illustrates Moroccan Amazigh’s heritage and history. After Yves Saint Laurent’s death in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the garden.
In 2017, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent opened its doors to the public next to the garden dedicated to the French designer’s legacy and showcasing hundreds of his works.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
Ben Youssef madrassa is a must-visit place in Marrakesh and the largest theological college in Morocco. The Saadians built the Islamic school in 1565 with several rooms around a small internal courtyard, done in the signature Islamic architecture that is also found around the medina of Marrakech.
Re-constructed in 1565, the school offers a perfect showcase of Moroccan design and architecture with colorful zellige tiling, stalactite ceiling, carved wooden doors, and Kufic inscriptions across the school giving the school its beautiful Islamic historical view.
The school is one of the most important schools in Morocco’s history with 130 rooms that used to welcome 900 students specialized in religious studies.
Must visit Marrakech places: Saadian Tombs. Photo: Matt Kieffer
Located in a closed garden, the Saadian tombs were built in the 16th century and designed by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur as a royal necropolis for the Saadian sultans and their family members. The site was opened in 1917 when the French rediscovered it using aerial photographs.
The must-visit place is one of the most touristic sites in Marrakech where approximately 60 members of the Saadi dynasty rest in tombs decorated with beautiful colored mosaics. Inside the mausoleum, there are three chambers.
The chamber of three niches and the most famous in the mausoleum has 12 marble columns, and walls covered with geometric patterns of zellige. This chamber hosts the mosaic tombs of Sultan Ahmad Mansour’s three children.
Marrakech is a large city filled with various monuments and historic places that are a must-visit to explore the red city’s history, culture, and heritage.
Knowing more about the cultural capital’s most touristic attraction sites can help you plan a successful trip without much confusion during your travel.