North African tourism has grown in popularity in recent years and none-more-so than in Morrocco where thousands flock each year to it’s beach resorts for beautiful weather and a cultural experience. The city of Marrakech is one of the places that has seen a sharp rise in tourism recently and the walled medieval city is a place like no other, there is so much to see and do and walking in the city feels like stepping back in time. Here are some reasons why you should be heading to Marrakech this year.
The markets or ‘souks’ as they are locally known is still the place where locals do both their trade and their weekly shopping. The souks are filled with local foods such as olives, meats, fruits, vegetables and spices along with locally produced crafts. The leather in Morocco is seen as some of the World’s best and there are countless stalls in the souks that sell bags, belts and leather clothing. The souks also house plenty of handmade clothing, ornaments and crafts. The art of haggling is a fun experience as you barter with the tradesman to get the best price that you can. One thing to be mindful of in the souks is that everyone and I mean everyone wants to sell you their wares and they don’t like taking no for an answer. Be vigilant in the souks and be forthright with your answer.
One of this city’s real charms is in it’s chaotic way of life, once you acclimatise to the craziness of the streets, the markets, the traffic and people then you will find it strangely comforting. There is a certain energy in Marrakech that will actually tire you out as you come to terms with the madness. On the face of it, it is difficult to see how anything actually gets done in the city with such a chaotic way of life but you soon realise that that is in fact how everything gets done, with a zany and frenetic pace.
The Main Square
The main square in Marrakech is home to it’s grandest souk and it is also where several events take place. On a normal day however you will see snake-charmers, dancing monkeys, birds of prey swooping over your head and local food being cooked and sold. This, for me, is a glimpse into the real North African culture and probably looks no different to how it did 100 years ago. Just walking around the main square is amusing and eye-opening and you can enjoy the local music playing with a cool refreshment and watch this crazy world go by.
There is a rule in Marrakech that no building can be built higher than it’s main mosque, the mosque isn’t very high which means that the city has a very quaint and open-aired feel about it. As a result of rules like these, most of the hotels and rental properties are based in old traditional buildings. These buildings, whilst slightly modernised, still carry the charm and intricacy of colourful Moroccan design. There are some ultra-modern hotels in the city but if I were you then I would avoid them in favour of some of the traditional locations on offer to truly embrace the Moroccan culture on your stay in Marrakech.