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No place embodies the magic and mystery of Morocco more than Marrakesh. Surrounded by crimson-colored ramparts, the imperial city is at once intimidating and intoxicating. According to local legend, the mighty minaret of Koutoubia mosque was planted in the heart of the city, bathing it in blood and painting it distinctive ochre red. The ancient city comes to life when the sun goes down, especially the massive central square known as Djemaa el-Fna. Rows of open-air food stalls offer grilled meats, vegetable salads and fresh-squeezed juice, as well as more exotic fare like sheep's heads and steamed snails. Crowds gather around folk musicians, ...

No place embodies the magic and mystery of Morocco more than Marrakesh. Surrounded by crimson-colored ramparts, the imperial city is at once intimidating and intoxicating. According to local legend, the mighty minaret of Koutoubia mosque was planted in the heart of the city, bathing it in blood and painting it distinctive ochre red. The ancient city comes to life when the sun goes down, especially the massive central square known as Djemaa el-Fna. Rows of open-air food stalls offer grilled meats, vegetable salads and fresh-squeezed juice, as well as more exotic fare like sheep's heads and steamed snails. Crowds gather around folk musicians, acrobatic animals, storytellers and snake charmers. Radiating from the Djemaa el-Fna, the narrow streets of the medina form a barely navigable network of winding alleys and hidden passageways. This tangled web contains the city's various souqs, where you can haggle for leather goods or woven carpets. Meanwhile, in the modish ville nouvelle, well-to-do Marrekshis and European expats shop in fancy boutiques and sit at trendy cafés, a world away from the mysteries of the ancient medina.

Mara Vorhees
About the Expert

Mara Vorhees has written or contributed to many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including Brazil and Morocco.

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Now Happening in Marrakesh

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Northern Africa along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. City located slightly West of central Morocco
  • Language: Arabic, Berber Dialects, French
  • Currency: Moroccan Dirham
  • Research: Marrakesh
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring or autumn; Marrakesh hosts a fantastic folk festival, National Festival of Popular Arts, every year in June or July