Traversing the alleyways and souks of Marrakech, particularly in the Medina (Old City), it is easy to believe you have been transported back in time or stumbled onto a movie set for a medieval ‘Arabian nights’ production. It is this enchanting, fairy-tale quality that brings thousands of sightseers to the most-visited of Morocco’s three Imperial Cities, Marrakech.
The heart of the Medina is Djemaa el-Fna, an irregular ‘square’ where everything seems to happen and the place to which tourists are drawn time and again to soak up the carnival-like environment. Tourism, though, has not spoilt the atmosphere: if anything, it has only added to it. The modern side of Marrakech (called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle), with its luxury hotels, banks and streets bursting with motor scooters, blends well with the past in a metropolis made up of people from the Berber Atlas tribes, Maghrebis from the plains, and Saharan nomads.
Marrakech was founded in 1062 by Youssef bin Tachfine of the Almoravid dynasty, and his son perfected the city by bringing in architects and craftsmen from Cordoba to build palaces, baths, mosques and a subterranean water system. The city walls were raised from the red mud of the plains, with the snow-covered peaks of the High Atlas Mountains forming a backdrop for the city, though they are often hidden by the heat haze.
One of the many ways to soak up the sights and sounds of Marrakech is in one of the hundreds of horse-drawn carriages (known as caleches) that are for hire, but it is also necessary to take in the Medina’s souks on foot, plunging into the hurly-burly maelstrom of passages where tradesmen ply various crafts, from cloth dyeing, copper beating, and leather working to herbalists, perfumers and slipper makers; and where shopkeepers cajole passing tourists into taking a look at their glorious array of colorful crafts.
Marrakech is more than just a city. It is a pearl polished by history and its tradition of hospitality which, for centuries, has known how to welcome visitors.
When you arrive in the “red” city, you can enjoy an ice cream, a pastry or a cool drink in one of the establishments in Guéliz, the modern part of Marrakesh. Luxury shops, banks, tearooms and cafés; the “red” city knows how to reconcile its prestigious past with contemporary dynamism. Marrakesh is a city full of life and enthusiasm as its omnipresent dynamism shows. The traveler will be charmed by his finds, encounters, strolls and picturesque souvenirs. His only regret is his melancholy as his departure approaches. However, he can then dream of coming back to enjoy the mild moonlit nights on a terrace again…
[big_header]The Charm of Marrakech[/big_header]
You will find a friendly and total change of scenery in the imperial city. Its secret is its genuine and unspoilt charm and its splendor and simplicity.
The medina: You can find thousands of foodstuffs, fabrics and handicrafts in the medina and its souks which are enclosed by fabulous 12th century ramparts. Here everyone attends to his affairs, as he has for centuries. In an unchanging but, nevertheless, modern world where, in the Place Jemaa El Fna, for example, mobile telephones can be heard ringing among the shouts of an acrobat amusing the crowds. This place is a rallying point which never empties. You can find some calm, far from the crowds, in the Arabo-Andalusian garden which houses the Saadian Tombs. You should visit the richly decorated rooms of these two mausoleums which are just below the superb minaret of the El-Mansour mosque. You will have an unrestricted view of the roofs of the city from the terrace of the El-Badi Palace which is close by. From the northern corner you can admire the ancient minbar (pulpit) of the Koutoubia mosque. This pulpit is beautifully ornamented with delicate sculptures and marquetry.
Tradition : Head straight to the Ben-Youssef medersa, a Koranic school which, in the past, took in hundreds of students in this setting favorable for uplifting the soul. Don’t miss the Marrakesh Museum which is close by in the medina. It has been installed recently in the 19th century M’Nebhi Palace. You will be able to admire eight centuries of Moroccan arts and crafts.
The Chrob or Chouf fountain is a must-see. This impressively sumptuous work has a wooden front dating from the 16th century! Take in the tanners’ quarter which is situated a little to the east. There you will leave for an exotic journey to a world where the smells and colors will carry you away. Then take one of the horse-drawn carriages available in the city to the Ménara. This small pavilion has an immense ornamental lake beside it. Marrakech is frequently come to picnic in this cool spot. You can do the same by filling up a basket with food found in the medina. Local food of course since Marrakesh is renowned for its gastronomy.
Marrakech is a par excellence business destination. Its facilities are comfortable and modern. Its prestigious and authentic setting encourages initiative and team spirit.
The fittings and equipment of the meeting rooms in the Marrakech Conference Centre, also called “Palais des Congrès’’, are completely up to date. This latter is located in the centre of the Hivernage neighborhood, where more than 15 different standing hotels are situated.