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Awards & Rankings :

Tripadvisor Travellers Choice 2016

Marrakech: Imperial beauty

Quick facts

Population: 32,272,974 (Marrakech: 1,063,415)

Languages: Moroccan Arabic, Arabic, Berber and French

Capital: Rabat

Climate: Semi-arid (mild winters and hot dry summers)

Surface area: 446,600 km²

Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)

Location

Located in the north-west corner of the African continent, Morocco is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Algeria to the east.

The former imperial city of Marrakech is located in central Morocco.

History and population

The Spanish and French protectorates over Morocco were established in 1912. At the time, Spain controlled 10% of the country while France controlled the remaining 90%.

Morocco gained its independence in 1956.

Marrakech, former imperial city

Marrakech is known as the Red City because of its red sandstone walls built during the mid-12th century. The city of Marrakech grew rapidly to establish itself as a cultural, religious and trading centre for the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa.

Languages

The two official languages in Morocco are Arabic and Berber. The most widely used Arabic dialect is called “Darija”. Other forms of Arabic and Berber dialects are also widely spoken around the country. French is considered the unofficial third language.

A small proportion of the population can also speak Spanish.

Politics

An acclaimed stable destination in the North African region, the kingdom of Morocco is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Executive power is held by the government headed by the Prime Minister. King Mohammed VI currently occupies the throne.

Independence Day is celebrated on November 15th.

Economy

Trade is mainly dominated by France, Morocco’s main import and export partner. An emerging exporter of manufactured and agricultural products, Morocco has become a major player in African economic affairs. It currently ranks 5th among African economies by GDP.

Morocco is also a growing tourism destination.

Climate

The Moroccan climate is quite diverse. Temperatures vary depending on the season and region. Marrakech’s climate is however described as semi-arid with mild winters and hot dry summers. Average temperatures range from 26 to 36 degrees in summer and between 12 to18 degrees in winter.

Flights

Direct flights from the three major Moroccan airports namely those of Casablanca, Agadir and Tangir connect Morocco to all main hubs in the world. Many international carriers also offer direct flights to Marrakech. Royal Air Maroc is Morocco’s national carrier.

Visa requirements

Most nationalities do not require a visa to enter the country on holiday.

Time difference

Morocco Standard Time is Greenwich Mean Time. Morocco Daylight Saving Time is (GMT+1).

Information can be modified without prior notice.

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PLACES OF INTEREST – MARRAKECH

The medina

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Marrakech’s medina is the old Islamic capital founded in the 11th century.

Enclosed by 16 km of ramparts and gates within modern-day Marrakech, the medina consists of intertwining alleys and passageways filled with colourful stalls and shops.

As the historical city centre, the medina is home to many palaces and mosques including the famed Koutoubiya Mosque. Another highlight of the medina is the main square called Djemaa El-Fna. Often described as an open-air theatre, the square is steeped in Moroccan traditions and vibe.

The souks

You can’t travel to Marrakech without at least one trip to the souks. A souk is a traditional Moroccan market consisting of connected alleyways filled with stalls selling a variety of merchandise. Goods include souvenirs, local crafts, spices, handmade shoes, pottery, leather, rugs etc. There is no set price there, so be prepared to bargain!

An authentic Moroccan experience by all means!

El Badi Palace ruins & Saadian Tombs

Today, only little remnants bear testimony to the splendour of the El Badi Palace. Originally built in 1587 for the Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur, it was torn apart in the 17th century.

The palace is said to have consisted of 350 rooms, numerous courtyards, gardens and a pool. Today, the beautiful maze-like gardens are used to host the National Popular Arts Festival each year. The city’s famed Saadian Tombs also date back to the era of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur. Discovered in 1917, they are known worldwide for their rich decoration which combines marble, mosaics and stucco. Sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty have been buried there including the sultan and his own family.

Ben Youssef Madrasa

What was once the largest Islamic college in Morocco is now a tribute to past Moroccan architecture. Founded in the 14th century, it closed down in 1960. Today, tourists can enjoy a peaceful stroll around the historical building and its courtyards. They will discover elegant interiors decorated with fine materials, intricate zelliges and designs. A peaceful haven within the busy medina.

Koutoubiya Mosque

Located 200 metres away from the Jemaa El Fna souk, a prominent market place, the Koutoubiya Mosque is the largest in Marrakech. The beautiful 12th-century architecture has been well preserved amidst rose gardens. Considered one of Marrakech’s most famous landmarks, the Mosque’s 77-metre minaret can be seen from a 29-km distance!

Bahia Palace

Built in the late 19th century for the grand vizier of the sultan, the Bahia Palace is considered one of the finest in Marrakech. A tribute to both Islamic and Moroccan styles, the palace is framed by a series of gardens. The lavish interiors combine delicate tile works, floor-to- ceiling decorations and intricately carved panels.

Dar Si Said Museum

This 19th century palace is a tribute to Moroccan craftsmanship. The museum contains an extensive collection of crafted objects from Marrakech and southern Morocco. Elegant furniture with refined ornamentations, leatherwork and Berber jewellery are some of the many wonders on display at this palace steeped in Moorish splendour.

Majorelle gardens & Islamic Art Museum

The Majorelle gardens are a key attraction of Marrakech. Designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle, the gardens are opened to the public since 1947. With a total surface area of 12 acres, they are home to more than 15 bird species endemic to North Africa.

The garden also houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech where visitors can admire traditional North African textiles, ceramics and jewellery as well as paintings by Majorelle himself. One of garden’s characteristics is the signature cobalt blue theme (named Majorelle blue) that is used throughout the garden and museum.

Lalla Takerkoust Lake & Amizmiz

Departing from the Royal Palm or from the centre of Marrakech, a short drive will take visitors to Lalla Takerkoust and its artificial lake. The lake offers plenty of possibilities, whether it be swimming or taking out a pedal boat or kayak. The lake also provides the perfect backdrop for a picnic or casual meal in one of the many small restaurants that are on offer. Many excursions departing from the lake are also available to explore the surroundings.

Further away, 55 km south of Marrakech, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, lies the Berber village of Amizmiz. It is the perfect place to experience true Berber lifestyle and enjoy exciting treks and hikes. The region is also well known for its local market held on Tuesdays where many beautiful souvenirs can be found.

Ourika Valley

The luxuriant Ourika Valley lies in the foothills of the High Atlas, 30 km south of Marrakech.

Lined with charming Berber villages, the scenic route features many interesting stops on the way. One of them is the typical village of Tnine Ourika famous for its remarkable gardens and eco-museums. The road stops at the end of the valley at Setti Fatma but the more adventurous can continue on foot to discover its seven mesmerizing waterfalls.

Information can be modified without prior notice.

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