The name Marrakech derives from “mur akush“, an expression whose meaning in Berberis something like “divine land”. As such, it becomes one of the most popular tourist destinations in Morocco – Africa. After all, how can you not be seduced by its colours? Visiting such a vibrant and colourful city is good for the mood. At least for those who are open to receive not only the colours but also the tastes, smells and sounds of Marrakesh. All very accentuated.
The stunning colors of the Souks
The souks of Marrakech are the largest in Morocco and world-famous as some of the most exotic shopping markets in the world. For first time visitors, it can be a bewildering experience as they are a labyrinth of colours, smells, flavours, and eye-catching vendors. But most of all, what really drives you crazy after a while exploring the souks, are the motorcycles that move endlessly and freely between the narrow corridors.
However, as the sustainable tourists that we are, we respect the local culture and will not fixate on the negative side. Besides, we will never let details disturb our mood in a “sacred” moment that is a trip. So it’s best to enter the maze of alleys and passages that make up the bazaars of Marrakech. They will lead you into a world filled with multicoloured carpets, pashmina, spices, antiques, lanterns, pottery, jewellery, and many trinkets. So the best way to approach the sensory overload of Marrakech’s souks is to take a deep breath and dive in.
The magnificent colors of the Majorelle Garden
Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased the Jardin Majorelle to save it from destruction at the hands of hotel developers. They then decided to live in Jacques Majorelle’s villa, which they renamed Villa Oasis.
Today, the Majorelle Garden, covering over 9,000 m², is one of the most enchanting and visited gardens in Morocco. Created over forty years, it is surrounded by bold colours that blend Art Deco and Moorish architectural influences.
French painter Jacques Majorelle conceived this lush garden as a sanctuary and a kind of botanical laboratory, with exotic specimens from the far corners of the world.
It is truly a beautiful place, so don’t be intimidated by the huge lines to enter this garden. Just relax and enjoy yourself with tourists from all over the world. Most of the people who do tourism in Morocco come to Marrakesh to visit it.
The fragrant colors of the herb market
The Rahba Lakdima – also known as the Herb Square, or herbal markets, is certainly the epicentre of the medina in Marrakesh.
Full of indescribable energy and high-voltage colours, in the market we find everything from mysterious herbalists to spice merchants selling everything from snake skins to rose petals to Ras el hanout (the famous Moroccan spice blend).
The busiest movement is around 4 pm when the vendors come down from the mountain villages.
In the midst of the herbs, we still find vendors selling carpets, woven baskets, and hats. It is a true spectacle that can be watched in a relaxed way from one of the surrounding cafes.
The delicious colors of flavors
The colourful landscapes and the aromas of dried spices in the souks and the plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables in the streets make it clear that this city has many culinary surprises waiting to be discovered.
The Secret Colors of Jemaa el-Fna
The Jemaa el-Fna is the central square in Marrakesh and has been delighting visitors and locals for a millennium.
There are musicians, vendors, magicians, snake charmers, animals, games, in short, a party. But everything has a price. If you want to take a picture or a photo, immediately someone from the group comes to charge you. The musicians, the moment you are watching them, someone appears on your side and asks you for money. The most aggressive ones were the snake charmers. They came at us in a gang and cussed a lot because I said I wasn’t going to pay because I didn’t have a decent picture. I was even planning to make a video, which I would pay for without any problems if they were nicer. With that authoritarian attitude, I won’t pay.
The precautions we must take
The only time in Marrakesh and I felt threatened was when one of these women offering henna tattooing tried to steal my wedding ring.
I was in the central square at night when she approached me and offered the service. I said no and she insisted. I insisted again and she grabbed my hand and tried to pull the ring off my finger. In a quick reflex, I elbowed her and she disappeared.
These women cover their faces with a veil so as not to be recognized. In other words, they are crooks. So all you have to do is threaten them by saying that you are going to call the police and they will disappear. No need to elbow them.
That same night a pigeon tamer tried to put a pigeon on my head to make some money. My husband who is 6’2″ said, “I don’t know why these things only happen to you. I with my 1.67 just looked up at the top of his head and asked, “why don’t they try to put a pigeon on your head?”
The bright colors of the Secret Garden
Many people discover this garden by chance, as it is not included in many guidebooks. Despite this, it is very popular because it is located inside the Medina and is extremely pleasant. A true oasis for a little relaxation from the crowded souks. The garden is inside one of the oldest Riads in Marrakesh and keeps its structure intact.
The Hidden Colors of Riads Hotels
If you want to have a complete experience in Marrakesh, I advise you to stay in a Riad. They are houses or palaces with a garden or courtyard inside. Along with the beautiful architecture, the atmosphere of these places is magical. Furthermore, the Riads are usually small, family-run, and immediately bring the peace you need to relax after a busy day.
Caution! Some Riads are actually in the middle of mazes in the Medina. Ours required us to walk 3 minutes between alleys which can be a bit unpleasant. So it’s better to ask about the distance and if the area is safe before booking.
Another thing that happened was, the Riad staff informed us that there was a taxi service to meet us at the airport. When we arrived the driver was indeed waiting for us. What we were not told was that we would need to pay for this service, which cost $25.00. So, ask everything to avoid unpleasant surprises.
The vibrant colors seen from the terraces
One of the most typical things in Marrakesh are the terraces. After all, they are in the Riads, stores, houses, cafes and restaurants. The terraces in Marrakesh are really a sensational space to relax in the late afternoon, eat something regional, and enjoy the view.
What clothes should I wear?
It is quite common for us Westerners, when visiting an Arab country, to have doubts about what to wear. After all, when we think of Arabs, we think of women wearing burqas and men wearing Thoba.
Marrakesh is relatively an open city, being one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, it welcomes people from different cultures.
You can dress normally, comfortably, with common sense. I believe that nobody needs to expose their body when visiting a country that people don’t. It is a matter of respect. In this case, a T-shirt with short sleeves, long pants are still the best option for men and women. Women can also opt for a comfortable dress or skirt.
The Brazilian singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso popularized the expression “Prá lá de Marrakesh” in the song “Qualquer Coisa”. This was in the 70s and the meaning then was insanity, craziness, being crazy, off the rails.
I confess that after getting to know the city, the expression makes sense to me. Marrakesh pushes our senses to the limit, and to exceed them is certainly a kind of madness. But a good kind of madness. Next time I come to Morocco, I want to go there from Marrakesh. Literally. Go to the Sahara desert and probably freak out about the place.