Introduction to Marrakech
Es salaam alaykum ('peace be upon you')! Welcome to Marrakech, a history-clad city drowning in hospitality and multiculturalism just waiting for you to explore. Here, you will find everything from extravagant gardens to Moroccan architecture at its best, all at the foothills north of the sometimes snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Marrakech is located about 320 kilometres southwest of capital Rabat and accessed easily by train, plane and bus.
Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and once the most important of the country’s former imperial cities and again, now a hub of culture and religion. Full of Berber farmers in Neolithic times and then founded in 1062 by Abu Bakr ibn Umar, it is also known as the ‘Red City’ owing to the city’s red walls built in 1122 and various red sandstone buildings. It has Andalusian-style madrasas (Koranic schools) and mosques built by Almoravids in the 12th century. The most iconic, due to the minaret, is the Koutoubia Mosque.
Today, the old town, known as a medina, continues to shine with vendors and stalls lining the fortified area and the traditional Berber market, known as a souk, selling crafts and modern gadgets. The market is the largest in the country. Marrakech's modern quarter, Gueliz, features everything from ice-cream shops to luxury shops and is a great day trip.
Wealthy Saadian sultans built impressive palaces like El Badi Palace in the 16th century before Sufi pilgrims came here to visit the entombed bodies of Morocco’s 7 saints in the 17th century. The French took over from 1912 to 1956 with the reestablishment of the country’s monarchy. The city continues to reinvent itself in other ways; Marrakech Mayor Fatima Zahra Mansouri is the country’s second female mayor. Marrakech continues to experience growth and places a strong emphasis on tourism and crafts. Let Marrakech seduce you with old-world charm and world-renowned hospitality.