Sunday, June 21, 2009

On the Road in Morocco: Marrakech

Back to Morocco...

...after lunch at El Jadida we turned inland to Marrakesh and the next World Heritage site on our check list, the medina of Marrakech.

I was frankly lost in the history of all the invaders of Marrakech, the Almoravids, Almohads, Merenids, Saadians, the Alawites. Let's just say the medina, or fortified city, has been around for a long time, through thick and thin, decay and restoration, ever since the Almoravid Berber Youssef ben Tachfine built walls around some camps here almost a thousand years ago.

We were lucky to get a nice riad inside the medina, an old style Moroccan house with a court yard in the middle and breakfast on the roof, thanks to Tetsu who booked us in Dar Belida.

First off, we checked out the center of the medina and the largest square of its kind in the world, Place Jemaa-el-Fna (say "Jem-af-na"), an open air market very lively at night, filled with outdoor grilling, produce of Morocco, snake charmers, musicians,

and, as Jennifer found, monkeys.

We had the following full day to see the medina, not enough time to see everything but enough to appreciate the Moroccans are very into color, pattern, and architecture.

I liked that the streets were too narrow for cars.

Photo by Jennifer

Radiating out from Jemaa-el-Fna are streets with hundreds, maybe thousands of souks, like this spice shop...

I never figured out what these guys were. At first I thought maybe a dried elephant trunk (gasp!), or maybe a gourd. For what could it be used?

And I wondered about this souk for dead bikes.

Everywhere were very old, historic places. The date of this famous bronze door of the Ben Youssef Medersa - 1564. Plymouth Rock was not even a twinkle in the Pilgrim's eyes.

Inside the same Medersa, a school for the Qu'aran.

The Koubba B'Adiyn, part of a mosque, found in 1948 and excavated, had been built by Ali Ben Youssef in 1106.

Jennifer found refuge inside the pavilion, amazing architecture in the Islamic style.

Everywhere were patterns and texture.

In the floor and walls of the harem chamber of the Dar Si Said.

Providing respite for Jennifer and a curious kitty in the Palais Bahia.

We were seeing stars by the end of the day.

Next stop tomorrow, Jardin Majorelle on the way out of Marrakech.


Anonymous said...

great memories!

Pat said...

All I can say is, "WOW!"

Katharine said...

Yes, Marrakech is as exotic as its name.