The Imperial City Of Marrakech, The Pearl Of The South Of Morocco

The imperial city of Marrakech, the Pearl of the South of Morocco

The imperial city of Marrakech is one of the most important and beautiful cities in Morocco. Colloquially it is called Medina Al-Ham’rá, “Red City”, for the color of its buildings and the predominant tones in the environment. But it is also the “Pearl of the South.” 

The imperial city of Marrakech was founded in the year 1062.  It was first a military camp and over time it became one of the most important points of the North African trade routes. It became the capital of the Benimerine dynasty and is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco, along with Fez, Rabat and Meknes.

The imperial city of Marrakech , tourist capital

This is one of the most beautiful, suggestive and visited cities in Morocco. What is not to be missed in Marrakech?

1. Medina of Marrakech

Mosques of Morocco
Marrakech – alex7370

The Medina, declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, is the old city. Its always lively streets, its souks, its squares, its mosques and its madrasas stand out. It is in it where the main attractions of the city are found.

It is surrounded by a fantastic wall 19 kilometers long, with a height of between 8 and 10 meters. It has a striking red color, which changes color according to daylight. The highlight are some of its 19 gates, especially the Bab Agnaou Gate, which on the southwest side of the city allows access to the old  Kasba.

2. Jemaa el Fna Square

Located at the entrance of the Medina This is the main square and the most famous place in the city of Marrakech. It rises a few meters from the Koutoubía mosque, so it is dominated by its minaret. Surrounding the square there are also several mosques, more modest, that accompany the Koutoubia.

Jamaa el Fna Square – TDway

Everything in Marrakech revolves around Yamaa el Fna. Thousands of people gather in this public space, filling it with life and color. A whole sample of the culture, traditions and even the art of Morocco.

People crowd the square and its adjacent streets to stroll among its stalls, among which can be seen from snake charmers to poets or dentists. An animation that does not decline when night falls, since its food stalls remain open until the wee hours of the morning.

A place as striking as it is surprising that, of course, you have to visit. In fact, in 2001 Unesco included this square in its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

3. El Badi Palace

It was built at the end of the 16th century by Sultan Saadí Ahmed al-Mansur.  Thus was celebrated the victory over the Portuguese army in 1578 in the Battle of the Three Kings. A jewel of Arab art very influenced by the Alhambra in Granada.

El Badi Palace in the imperial city of Marrakech
El Badi Palace – Bartek / Flickr.com

The palace complex consisted of a large rectangular courtyard 135 meters, in the center there was a pool and fountains. Surrounding this large central pond, two houses facing each other: the Pabellón de Cristal and the Pabellón de las Audiencias.

The palace was built with the richest and most luxurious materials of the time. Unfortunately, today you can hardly imagine what it was like, since there is hardly an immense esplanade of gardens, planted with orange trees and surrounded by high walls.

4. Dar Si Said Museum

Dar Si Said Museum in the Imperial City of Morocco
Dar Si Said Museum – my Life, the Universe and Everything / Flcikr.com

This museum officially called the Museum of Moroccan Arts, is  one of the most visited venues in the imperial city of Marrakech. It exhibits objects and crafts from the region, such as typical clothes, copper elements, fabrics, weapons and Berber jewelry, as well as some archaeological finds.

It is the oldest museum in the city. Before becoming a museum, it was the residence of Si Said Ben Moussa, minister of war during the regency of his brother, Vizier Bou Ahmed. It has several patios and the upper floor does not exhibit works but rather shows cedar wood furniture.

Menara Gardens

Menara gardens in the imperial city of Marrakech
Menara Gardens – damian entwistle / Flcikr.com

They are the best known gardens in Marrakech. They were created in 1870 on an old Almohad pond by the Almohad Caliph Abd al-Mumin. Next to it rises an imposing building from which the name of the gardens comes. Menara  derives from the small green pyramid ( menzeh ) on the roof of the pavilion.

The central building that presides over the lake was commissioned by Sultan Sidi Mohammed and is said to have formerly been the place of love affairs for the sultans of the city.

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