A medieval city of drama, myth and mystery, Marrakesh will captivate all who venture inside its ochre-coloured walls. Step in and you will be transported back to a place and time that has been consigned to the annals of history. The winding alleys of the Medina and the sights, sounds and smells of the souks, the human drama that is Djemaa el-Fna square and the Atlas Mountains rearing up in the background all make Marrakesh Morocco’s crown jewel.
Moroccan dirham (MAD) 1 dirham = 100 centimes
The Moroccan Times (daily news in English)
Banks: Mon-Fri 8.30am-11.30am and 2.30pm-4.30pm. Businesses: Mon-Sat 9am-1pm and 3pm-7pm
Office National Marocain du Tourisme
Place Abdel Moumen ben Ali,
Avenue Mohammed V, Gueliz
+044 436 239/131
Mon-Fri 9am-12pm and 3pm-4.30pm
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The city is divided into two highly contrasting districts: the medina, founded by the Almoravids nearly 1,000 years ago, and the Ville Nouvelle, a French colonial modernist project from the early 20th century. It is the medina, and its central square Djemaa el-Fna, that will undoubtedly spark the imagination.
Djemaa el-Fna is the heart and soul of Marrakchi life, and really comes alive with the setting of the sun, when a caravanasi of food vendors, selling all manner of Moroccan delicacies, descend onto the square. These are accompanied by snake charmers, wide-eyed story tellers, musicians and performers that lend a medieval scent to the night air. To the north of the square are the important religious buildings and the souks, while to the south are the Imperial quarters where the palaces and monuments of past rulers proudly stand.
The Ville Nouvelle, which in comparison to the medina is a decidedly more ordered and sedate affair, divides into the areas of Gueliz and Hivernage. Here you will find an array of civic buildings, international hotels, bars and restaurants typical of any modern European city.
The city divides into two highly contrasting districts. The medina, founded by the Almoravids nearly 1000 years ago, and the Ville Nouvelle, a French colonial modernist project from the early 20th century. It is the medina, and its central square Djemaa el-Fna, that will undoubtedly fire the imagination.
Moroccan cuisine, in general, consists of the staples of meat―mainly chicken and lamb―a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and couscous. The most renowned Moroccan dish is the tajine, a slowly cooked stew of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Another famous dish is pastilla, which is composed of either chicken or pigeon between layers of pastry.
Enjoy the different sounds and views in Marrakesh at a nice café with strong Moroccan coffee in your hand. Moroccans also have a liking for sweet things, so be sure to try out their desserts and pastries, washed down with an aromatic glass of the a la menthe or mint tea.
Marrakesh is a shopper’s paradise. It is a place where some of the finest hand crafted goods won’t cost you an arm and a leg and you’re actively expected to bargain. If this sounds like your idea of consumer heaven then head directly to the souks in the North of the Medina, where you will find different artisans fashioning all manner of products.
There’s also the slipper market, for that most essential of Moroccan footwear: the babouche, which you can slip into after the night’s revelries. Other markets to look out for include the leather market and the carpet market where you can pick-up high quality hand-woven rugs. For sheer interest alone, and to watch real craftsmen at work, be sure to wander through the blacksmiths’, dyers’ and carpenters’ markets. If the bustle of the souk gets to be too much, and you’re all bartered out, then head over to the Ville Nouvelle where the shopping experience comes air conditioned-boutique style. Here you will find exclusive designer wear and one-off original items, artisan and antique shops and warehouse outlets. Happy shopping!
Menara Airport is located 6 km from Marrakesh. Bus number 19 runs to Djemaa el-Fna every 20 minutes during the week and less frequently during weekends and public holidays. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes. A taxi for maximum 5 people plus baggage from the airport to the city centre takes about 20 minutes. Agree on the price before taking off.
Address: Marrakesh Menara Airport, Marrakesh
Phone: +212 5 2444 7910
More Information: www.marrakechairport.net
The main bus station is located at Bab Doukkala. From here buses to different cities around Morocco leave, but you also find local buses here. Almost all buses stop at Djemaa El-Fna and Place Youssef Ben Tachfine.
Address: Bab Doukkala, Marrakesh
Taxi is the favoured method of transport around Marrakesh. There are small taxis (petits taxis) which can take up to three passengers. For destinations further afield there are large taxis (grands taxis). Prices are reasonable but should be agreed in advance.
You can buy stamps in several shops around the medina and also in some of the most luxurious hotels. The main Post Office in the city is located at:
Address: Place du 16 Novembre, Gueliz, Marrakesh
More Information: Located opposite McDonalds
You don't have to go far to find a pharmacy since there are a lot of them in the city, particularly in the area of avenue Mohammed V between place Abdelmoumen Ben Ali and place de la Liberté. A sign in the window indicates which pharmacies are open after-hours but you also find a night pharmacy at:
Address: Rue Khalid ben el-Oualid, Marrakesh
Phone: +212 524 430415
Country code: +212
Area code: 24
Increasingly 220 volts round two-pin plugs are becoming standard.