Marrakech The Red City, where anything is possible
Displaying ochre façades, this beautiful city relies on a troubled past to roll out a fabulous heritage, in the shade of historic riads.
It took almost a millennium to build the city, in turns capital of an empire and residence of sultans, caliphs and kings, yet commercial and cultural metropolis since always. A thousand years and several dynasties helped shape the multiple faces of Marrakech.
Fourth largest city in Morocco, it has always leant on craftsmanship and trade. Today, it stills grows due to the exponential dividends of tourism. Culture, arts and singular architectural heritage spread all over town. It is located 80 km from the High Atlas mountain range, a majestic natural site where you can practice many activities. From downhill skiing to bivouacking in the Agafay mineral desert, which offers white dunes of rocks, there is something for everyone. Closer to the High Walls, you may prefer windsurfing on an oasis (at Lake Lalla Takerkoust) or golfing for an entire round in the city, in the steps of Winston Churchill.
You have multiple choices of activities in Marrakech, from wandering through the souks to visiting Saadian tombs (which steles are made of cedar woof and stucco). You can also recharge your batteries in the poetic blue hues of the Majorelle Garden, discover a madrasa (Koranic University dating back to the 16th century) which displays wonders of Arabic and Andalusian architecture. To get some rest, hotels amidst the Palmeraie offer surprising design.
At the level of the tall Koutoubia minaret, you will love strolling in the palaces. Their gardens house olive and orange groves, as well as plants of diverse varieties and scents. Wander around the different neighbourhoods in town, from the terraces of cafés to restaurants offering Moroccan, French and fusion cuisines, before immersing yourself in the warm nights of the Hivernage district.
Since the late 1960s, Marrakech has become a privileged spot for the jet-set, soon adopted by Yves Saint-Laurent. And why not, with its fabulous riads in the Medina, its golf courses and universities. Plus, it now also offers a film festival and a private campus in addition to its traditional attractions: high quality craftsmanship, blazing colours, lively music and spellbinding fragrances.
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© Text and photography courtesy of EnVols